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Judge declares mistrial in police bullying case

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 12:57 p.m. HST, Jan 26, 2011

A mistrial has been declared in a case involving a veteran Honolulu police officer accused of bullying a teenage motorist.

Circuit Judge Edward Kubo declared the mistrial this morning after the jury sent a message that they could not reach a verdict in the unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle charge against motorcycle patrol Officer Scott Jones Valdez, 43.

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

Prosecutors hope to try again to make their case. A retrial is scheduled for March 7.

Jeff Hawk, Valdez's attorney, said his client is disappointed with the decision.

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

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

Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bell said his office is weighing its options and preparing for the retrial.

Jurors were given the case yesterday afternoon after hearing arguments and testimony since Thursday.

Valdez is accused of illegally entering a 2007 Toyota Scion sedan driven by Matthew Smith, who was 18 at the time of the March incident.

Smith testified that Valdez yelled obscenities at him and shoved him twice before issuing a citation with a slew of violations totaling $1,687.

Valdez testified that he neither touched Smith nor acted improperly. The only time any part of him entered the vehicle was when he measured the tint of the vehicle's windows, he said.

Bell said Valdez pulled Smith over along the shoulder of the H-1 freeway after Smith threw up his hands when the motorcycle patrolman nearly brushed his car.

During his closing argument yesterday, Bell also noted that many of the violations Valdez issued were dropped by a district judge. 

Hawk noted contradictory statements made by Smith and his younger brother, Casey Smith. The driver, at one point, said he was punched, and then later said he was shoved, by Valdez.

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