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Honolulu police used excess force against 2 hikers mistaken for robbers, suit claims

One man was thrown onto the ground, and the other was beaten, the plaintiffs allege

By Associated Press


A Hawaii musician and his friend visiting from Connecticut claim in a federal lawsuit that Hono­lulu police officers used excessive force when they were mistaken for armed robbers while hiking.

The Honolulu Police Department declined to comment Friday on the lawsuit filed this week by John Helm and his friend Jonah Wellins.

The lawsuit says Wellins was in town visiting when they went hiking Feb. 29, 2012, on Lanipo Trail in Hono­lulu. They noticed a police helicopter, with a pilot directing them to descend from the summit. They claim that as they were on their way down, they were accosted by eight armed officers in combat gear, who screamed profanities and ordered them to the ground.

Helm alleges he was violently shoved and that his face was slammed onto the ground so hard that he lost consciousness. Wellins also alleges the officers beat him.

The officers "threatened plaintiffs on the way down at gunpoint, causing plaintiffs to fear for their lives," according to the lawsuit.

The officers told them witnesses identified them as armed robbers, the lawsuit states, and the two men were driven in separate cars to police headquarters. They were nearly there when their cars turned around and headed back to the trail without any explanation.

They were released after it was determined they didn't match the description of the lone robbery suspect.

After the incident, Helm and Wellins filed complaints with the Police Commission, which found all of the officers engaged in "conduct unbecoming officers," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims, however, that the department failed to punish the officers.

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peanutgallery wrote:
Typical HPD, unfortunately. Lousy public relations. Heck, no public relations
on September 7,2013 | 02:50AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
I hope they sue for big bucks and win. Abuse of police authority cannot be tolerated in civilized society. Police chief needs to resign or be replaced.
on September 7,2013 | 05:46PM
false wrote:
Like Deedy, HPD cannot be judge and jury. Everyone of us, and our sons, fathers, cousins, uncles are entitled to due process.
on September 7,2013 | 05:55AM
Makua wrote:
This is one of those "book em dano" events that went sour. You couldn't pay me enough to be a police officer that basically puts his life on the line everyday. I understand why the police did what they did to supposed "robbers". You dominate the take down, you stand a better chance of going home whole. I understand the visitor from Connecticut feeling overwhelmed and abused. Not to mention their bad press about Hawaii. I guess it all comes down to get a lawyer and sue for $.
on September 7,2013 | 06:00AM
eoe wrote:
There is no possible justification for this. Read the Hawaii News Now article. This was not dominating on the take down, this was beat the s*** out of someone on a remote trail, who did not remotely match the description of the perp and then try to intimidate them into silence.
on September 7,2013 | 06:46AM
BluesBreaker wrote:
The inevitable result when poorly educated individuals are given virtually unlimited power.
on September 7,2013 | 06:28AM
Wazdat wrote:
Good job HPD
on September 7,2013 | 08:14AM
DABLACK wrote:
How much they to settle out of court ?? There goes some more tax money for some stupid HPD official's decision. And nobody held accountable ??? The current HPD Chief must be relieved , PERIOD !!
on September 7,2013 | 08:53AM
awahana wrote:
HPD. P stands for pathetic.
Many do not have pride in their work. They listen to their iphone, and text while on construction duty, with traffic and accidents right in front of them. Do they care? Just collecting some extra duty pay...no need to get involved. Numbness is blissfullness.
Sadly. The union SHOPO exacerbates this, and the training academy is a joke. It all starts at the top.
HPD was a force to be reckoned with many decades ago. Not anymore. Not even a good police state.
They need a psych profile prior to employment, but alas, that would mean few recruits.
One level above joining the military.
on September 7,2013 | 09:17AM
allie wrote:
sad, keystone cops. Pathetic.
on September 7,2013 | 05:00PM
Macadamiamac wrote:
Hope the lawsuit vitiates the SWAT budget. We don't need no jack-boots here.
on September 7,2013 | 09:27AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
They should all be terminated from HPD, abuse of police authority cannot be tolerated in society. Does the Police commission not have any authority to discipline? Why then do they even exist? Just for show.
on September 7,2013 | 05:44PM
localtodamax808 wrote:
Pretty sad....slap on the wrist punishment. They should be demoted...that's where it hurts them....their pocketbook. The police commission is like the UH Regent...they don't stand for what's right...they're like a rubber stamp. good luck to the plaintiffs...hope you get big bucks.
on September 8,2013 | 01:15AM
juke wrote:
thoses who know me know i walk the walk.if its wrong.stand up and do something about it.over the years i have been on tv radio in the news paper.at meetings for the way hawaii is run.so its easy to post all the stuff you write.make big statements.but get off your butt.get out their.do something about the hpd.and outher wrongs in hawaii.make this a good place again.
on September 8,2013 | 04:54AM
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