The officers, who have yet to stand trial, can now officially lodge a grievance over any internal decisions.

Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan has decided what discipline to mete out to the four officers charged with felonies for their alleged role in a 2021 pursuit in Makaha that injured six people, but he has yet to make it public.

Logan has sent letters to the officers indicating his decisions, officially beginning the grievance process, he announced at a Honolulu Police Commission meeting Wednesday.

Logan said he would not go into further detail because of civil service rules and the HPD collective bargaining agreement that provides for confidentiality.

“My decision is only initial,” he said. “Things can change within those processes.”

Makaha Crash
The crash at the center of the investigation allegedly occurred after a high-speed police chase at the corner of Farrington Highway and Orange Street. Four officers have been investigated over the incident. (Hawaii News Now)

A corporation counsel for the City and County of Honolulu concurred with the chief that he should keep information about his decisions confidential until he is required to disclose it to the Legislature in the HPD’s annual report.

The officers can appeal any decision to the director of human resources and can then take it to an arbitration process should they remain unsatisfied.

The men are scheduled to stand trial on charges related to the crash later this month, but that may be delayed following a status conference Friday.

Officer Joshua Nahulu is charged with “collisions involving death or serious bodily injury,” a class B felony for which he faces up to 10 years in prison. The other officers, Robert Lewis III, Jake Bartolome and Erik Smith are charged with “hindering prosecution in the first degree,” a class C felony that carries a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Lewis, Bartolome and Smith also are charged with a misdemeanor for conspiring to hinder the prosecution, which carries a one-year maximum jail sentence.

All four have pleaded not guilty.

Commissioner Ann Botticelli, a former local news reporter and longtime public relations professional, pressed Logan for more information given the lack of transparency around the internal investigation and its slow progress.

“Is there any way to say broadly, ‘There were four people, there were this many of this type of discipline, this many of another type of discipline,’ and not violate that collective bargaining?” she said.

“I just ask because I think there’s obviously a lot of concern by both this commission and the community that it’s taken so long and we don’t have any kind of information about what kind of judgment has been made,” Botticelli said.

The city’s attorney said he didn’t know.

Commission chair Doug Chin acknowledged Logan’s adherence to the collective bargaining agreement.

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

“It would be unfortunate if for some reason the disciplinary action that you recommended or that you’ve finally come to, gets overturned because of some sort of violation of the collective bargaining agreement,” Chin said. “So we’re trying to respect that.”

Logan previously disputed news reporting that said a review board recommended the officers be fired.

“With the internal investigation complete, Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan will determine whether to accept the recommendation or reject it,” Hawaii News Now reported in mid-July.

But at the last police commission meeting, Logan called that story “not accurate.”

“We’re not going to just tell the media this is wrong and here’s why it’s wrong,” Logan said. “I want to make sure that the individuals that are impacted have a copy of the information so they know what’s coming, so they don’t hear it on the news.”

Jahan Byrne, a police watchdog, wrote in testimony for Wednesday’s meeting, that Logan appears more concerned about the officers than the investigation’s extensive delays and the six people the officers allegedly injured.

Logan indicated that the next step will largely depend on what the officers decide to do.

“Now the ball is in their court to follow either civil service rules and/or collective bargaining rules towards grievance processes.”

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