The department’s Professional Standards Office has completed its investigation into the incident.

The four Honolulu police officers who face criminal trial in August for their alleged roles in a 2021 pursuit in Makaha that injured six civilians have retracted their requests for taxpayer-funded legal representation.

The officers notified the commission that they would be rescinding their requests on Tuesday and Wednesday, Honolulu Police Commission Vice Chair Kenneth Silva said, reading an announcement during Wednesday’s commission meeting.

Officer Joshua Nahulu was charged in March with “collisions involving death or serious bodily injury,” a class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The other three officers, Jake Bartolome, Robert Lewis III and Erik Smith were charged with “hindering prosecution in the first degree,” a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

The three were also charged with a misdemeanor for conspiring to hinder prosecution, which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence. The four officers pleaded not guilty.

Makaha Crash
The officers are alleged to have engaged in a high-speed police chase at the corner of Farrington Highway and Orange Street on Oahu that resulted in injuries to six civilians in 2021. (Hawaii News Now)

Their trial is scheduled for Aug. 21.

The Commission was, before Silva’s announcement in the first minutes of the meeting, originally scheduled to hold contested case hearings Wednesday to discuss the officers’ requests. The hearings could have allowed people besides the officers to testify.

The Honolulu Police Department Professional Standards Office, meanwhile, has completed its investigation into the incident that occurred in September 2021, Deputy Chief Rade Vanic said Wednesday.

The PSO was able to finish the work “as a result of the Prosecutor’s Office turning over their independent review to us,” Vanic said. The investigation has now been sent to the Administrative Review Board, he said.

HPD will then hear the case July 6 and make recommendations to the police chief “as far as any actions against all of the officers involved,” Vanic said.

Honolulu police officers Jake Ryan Bartolome, Robert Lewis III, Joshua Nahulu and Erik Smith are scheduled to face trial August 21. (Provided: Honolulu Police Department)

HPD had previously completed its administrative investigation and scheduled a hearing, but it fell on the same day the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for the officers’ arrest, Vanic said.

The PSO decided more interviews were necessary, and a follow-up report was then submitted, he said.

Further action depends on the chief’s timeline to review HPD’s recommendations but could take two to three weeks, Vanic said. He estimated there are thousands of pages to review.

The commission later took public testimony.

Jahan Byrne, coordinator of Secrecy Hurts our Police Officers, a watchdog group, called in on speaker phone: “It’s just interesting to us that it took two months to get two interviews scheduled,” he said.

The July 6 hearing will mark 663 days since the incident, Byrne said.

“These officers need to be held accountable and judged by a jury of their peers,” Byrne later wrote in an email.

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