Tuesday, July 29, 2014         

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Hung jury means retrial for officer

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


The mistrial declared yesterday in the case involving a Honolulu police officer means the case will need to be retried in March.

The jury in the case, which began deliberations around noon Tuesday, said it could not decide the fate of HPD motor patrolman Scott Jones Valdez, 43, who was accused of second-degree unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.

If convicted, Valdez faced up to five years in prison.

Circuit Judge Edward Kubo declared the mistrial after the jury sent a message that they could not reach a verdict.

The jury could also have found Valdez guilty of the lesser offense of second-degree unauthorized entry, a misdemeanor, but did not do so.

Valdez is accused of shoving and shouting obscenities at a teenage motorist during a traffic stop. Valdez denied any impropriety.

Both Jeff Hawk, Valdez's attorney, and Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell said they are looking forward to the retrial.

Hawk said his client was disappointed with the decision.

"He was hoping for an acquittal," he said.

Hawk said he intends to file a motion to dismiss the case by arguing that another jury also would not be able to find Valdez guilty.

The retrial is slated for March 7.

Motorist Matthew Smith said Valdez pulled him over on H-1 Freeway when he threw up his hands after the officer drove by on a narrow shoulder, nearly brushing his Toyota Scion. Smith said Valdez shoved him twice and yelled obscenities at him before issuing a citation with a slew of violations totaling $1,687.

Valdez testified that he remained calm throughout the stop, and that the only time he stuck his hand into Smith's car was to check the tint on the vehicle's windows.

Hawk tried to discredit Smith and his younger brother Casey, 14, and said the two wanted to get back at Valdez because of the expensive violations.

But Bell said it was precisely because of the Smiths' youth that Valdez thought he could get away with being what he described as "a bully with a badge."


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