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Honolulu police accused of excessive force in suit

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:43 a.m. HST, Sep 07, 2013

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 on 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 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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Kealii wrote:
Oops ... err ... aloha!
on September 6,2013 | 01:23PM
joseph007 wrote:
What!!! HPD officers are violent??? but they are the law... what a shock. bet these officers are promoted..... big time.
on September 7,2013 | 08:59AM
Shh wrote:
No it's... what happened to the Aloha?! Damn, that's just not right. Do they really have to be so vicious? I still remember the case of the guy and his little boy not too long ago that the father died after such an incident like this. The police said he stolen a car. I feel so bad for that family. Just a shame!
on September 6,2013 | 01:26PM
localguy wrote:
Hang on to your wallets, HPD is going to have to pay big for this fiasco they created. Hold the officer's accountable, do what needs to be done, pay the money and move on.
on September 6,2013 | 01:28PM
Grimbold wrote:
The extremely stupid officers in this case should be punished.
on September 7,2013 | 07:25AM
ryan02 wrote:
According to Deedy, all the cops have to do is say these guys tried to punch them, and the cops would have been justified in shooting them dead. They got off easy.
on September 6,2013 | 01:34PM
Kaimukirat wrote:
Not quite. Deedy said they were struggling over the gun, which is a little different.
on September 6,2013 | 02:15PM
islandboy1562 wrote:
If true - yes big $ will result, it sounds like something out of a FIVE-O episode, maybe hikers resembled WO-FAT and accomplice.
on September 6,2013 | 02:25PM
bumba wrote:
Most officers are professional. Some are just professional bullies. Gotta weed them out, get rid of them.
on September 7,2013 | 04:28AM
gmkhawaii wrote:
its funny how "some" people have personality changes when they are given a position of authority. when they interpret themselves to be outside the context of "law abiding" and consider themselves to be "the law" now, if they came upon these two persons, advised them that they needed to subject themselves to questions to ascertain their presence and reason of being on the trail, if they complied willingly without given the cops "sh--" then there should be NO reason for the beating. however if they gave "sh--" and didn't do what they were told to do then well, a couple slaps wouldn't really be out of the question....... ........
on September 7,2013 | 07:41AM
joseph007 wrote:
So, since you were there at the trail incident, can you give the full accounting to us please?
on September 7,2013 | 09:01AM
livinginhawaii wrote:
The responsible cops need to be terminated. This is outrageous and completely unacceptable.
on September 7,2013 | 07:43AM
cojef wrote:
To serve and protect the public interest is my opinion on how police should to react to any given situation. Anything resembling uncontrollable or wanton disregard for anyone's personal safety is conduct unbecoming a police officer, and appropriate action for dismissal should be pursued. There is no allowance for any other action, as only this manner can the integrity of the police department can be sustained.
on September 7,2013 | 08:43AM
pandadaddy wrote:
How did our bumbling officers ever pull this off without accidentally shooting someone in the back like they sometimes do, when their adrenaline gets pumping. HPD has a long history of officers with no college education that watch too many cop TV shows.
on September 7,2013 | 08:58AM
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