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Driver indicted in death of HPD officer during traffic stop

By Nelson Daranciang

LAST UPDATED: 03:59 p.m. HST, Oct 31, 2012

An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment this morning charging James Dorsey, 21, of Waianae, with negligent homicide in the death of Honolulu police officer Eric Fontes, 45, at a traffic stop near Ko Olina Resort last year. 

Dorsey admitted that he knew he was falling asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle and even called a friend to help him stay awake, said Vickie Kapp, deputy city prosecutor.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins set bail at $50,000.

The charge accuses Dorsey of causing Fontes’s death by operating a vehicle in a negligent manner in the Sept. 13, 2011, accident. 

Honolulu police have said that alcohol use was not involved, but that drug use and speeding may be factors in the crash.

The indictment also charges Dorsey with negligent injury for the injuries suffered by officer Herman “Sam” Scanlan.

Police said Scanlan had stopped a sport utility vehicle with an expired registration decal in the left westbound lane of Farrington Highway just before the Ko Olina off ramp. Four other officers, including Fontes, were on the scene to assist.

They said Dorsey’s pickup truck took an improbable path past some of the other officers and their vehicles before hitting Fontes.

Kapp said Dorsey fell asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle. His truck drifted from the left lane of the highway onto the grassy shoulder and glanced off the concrete medial separating eastbound and westbound traffic. It continued forward striking Fontes, who was standing between the line of police cars and the concrete medial, then hit one of the police vehicles which in turn struck Scanlan and the SUV which had been pulled over.

Police traffic investigators said Dorsey’s pickup hit Fontes in the back.

An ambulance took Fontes in extremely critical condition to Pali Momi Medical Center where he died. Scanlan suffered leg and other injuries.

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Rickyboy wrote:
Spread the blame equally among all. The driver who was pulled over, the officers along the median and the driver who collided with the others there. Each contributed to this unfortunate episode. Could have should have would have. Learn from this to help prevent future incidents.
on October 31,2012 | 01:56PM
Psyche wrote:
How the F do you figure the officers are to blame in this incident?!?! Seriously!
on October 31,2012 | 02:41PM
walaau808 wrote:
Amazing how some people think. Put the blame on everyone? Dorsey fell asleep at the wheel. If he hadn't done that, none of this would've happened. Blame belongs on the person who caused the death/accident. Man up rickyboy!
on October 31,2012 | 02:50PM
GeoDiva wrote:
Because it is standard procedure to pull over someone on the right side not the left. Also why do you need three cop cars for an expired registration?
on October 31,2012 | 03:16PM
Poipounder808 wrote:
Because sometimes routine stops turn in to felony arrests...stolen car, drugs and weapons. Sometimes drivers with expired vehicle registration have warrants for their arrest. But the main reason is police officers want to go home after their shift and not be second guessed by people who don't have a clue.
on October 31,2012 | 03:54PM
Pocho wrote:
Crazy spreading the blame. Speeding, drugs and starting to sleep behind the wheel? Next time pull over, park and sleep on it.
on October 31,2012 | 03:58PM
MANDA wrote:
good points, rickyboy
on October 31,2012 | 07:42PM
allie wrote:
Waianae has serious problems with drugs and it is costing lives. Seems like a superfluous place
on October 31,2012 | 02:49PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Another dumb generalization.
on October 31,2012 | 04:23PM
Shawn211 wrote:
Wow.......those 3 people in the picture on the medial strip.......aahhhhh...not too bright .......risking your life?????
on October 31,2012 | 03:13PM
sixthsense wrote:
No matter what, it's a sad time for all! The Fontes family has forgiven the Dorsey boy and now let the court system wreak havoc on the boy's life.
on October 31,2012 | 03:32PM
livinginhawaii wrote:
Our over-paid lenient prosecutors have done it again. Speeding while on drugs is not negligent homicide. Its intentional murder, simple as that.
on October 31,2012 | 04:14PM
Larry01 wrote:
No, it's neither intentional muder, nor simple. This guy is obviously guilty of a crime, but simplistic views like that end up being detrimental to society.
on October 31,2012 | 04:21PM
Poipounder808 wrote:
livinginhawaii...then talk to the people who make the laws, not the ones that enforce them.
on October 31,2012 | 04:34PM
967972005 wrote:
How many cops does it take to check on an expired registration sticker.
on October 31,2012 | 05:21PM
Poipounder808 wrote:
See my above post...then get a clue.
on October 31,2012 | 09:44PM
ejkorvette wrote:
Sad story. Prayers to the Fontes Ohana. 21yr old life is about to be changed forevers, by his actions. Everyone learn from this horrible incident/crime, and take better care of yourself and of others. If you are not 100%, then do not operate a vehicle. Take an alternate means to arrive home alive. Call a friend, take the bus, get some sleep, but do not put the life and welfare of others at risk.
on October 31,2012 | 05:27PM
Anonymous wrote:
on October 31,2012 | 08:34PM
sloturle wrote:
so how long does he stay in jail for?
on October 31,2012 | 11:28PM
sleepy wrote:
What a stupid place to stop someone for a safety check. A wiser person would have followed them to a safer area off the road.time and again you see this happening.
on November 1,2012 | 12:05AM
Psyche wrote:
James Dorsey, is that you??? LMAO
on November 1,2012 | 09:14AM
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