DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Former Honolulu police officer James Corn, left, appeared in court yesterday for threatening to kill a tire shop owner. He was with Edward Aquino, deputy public defender, and behind them were Corn's family members. CLICK FOR LARGE
Officer erupted at tire dealer, court told
A former Honolulu police officer threatened to harm a Waipahu tire shop owner and blow up his establishment after he was refused a free replacement tire, prosecutors say.
"Honolulu Police Department officers wear their badge on their chest," said Deputy Prosecutor Darrell Wong yesterday during opening statements. "Defendant HPD officer James Corn wears his badge right here, on his crotch."
But the defense says Corn made no such threats, neither by word nor by his actions.
The trial began in Circuit Judge Steve Alm's courtroom yesterday for Corn, 28, charged with first-degree terroristic threatening in the Feb. 21, 2005, incident at Larry's Discount Muffler Wheel & Tire in Waipahu.
Owner Larry Woodward, who had been operating his retail shop on Farrington Highway since 1988, testified yesterday that Corn became very upset when he told him it appeared a bubble on the tire was caused by running over a pothole -- a road hazard not covered by the warranty.
He diagnosed the problem after seeing a spate of similar problems around that time, Woodward noted.
Corn, who had requested an officer's discount when he first purchased the tires in December 2004, demanded that he get a replacement tire at no charge, but Woodward said he couldn't help him.
During the exchange, the irate Corn was getting "right in my face" and informed him that he was a police officer and could do whatever he wanted to, Woodward said.
Woodward, a former police officer on the mainland, responded that police officers didn't conduct themselves the way Corn was behaving and told his assistant manager, Michanne Miller, who was watching the confrontation, to call police.
Corn allegedly responded, "Go ahead and call the cops. I am the cops," Miller testified.
Corn also said something to the effect that he could blow up the building and kill everyone in the building -- words that struck fear in her, Miller said.
Woodward repeatedly asked Corn to show his badge to prove he wasn't lying, she said.
In response, Corn grabbed his private area and said, "This is my badge," Miller said. Corn also pulled out a plastic ID holder and flashed it a few inches from Woodward's face.
Deputy public defender Edward Aquino said Corn paid $175 each for four high-performance tires, plus an additional $100 each to have them installed, but was never told of the warranty restrictions.
Aquino said Woodward, not Corn, initiated the physical confrontation by grabbing him by the shoulder when Corn started making his way to the back of the shop to look for the manager he had dealt with when he initially purchased the tires.
The only act Corn is guilty of is "sticking finger" at Woodward and uttering an expletive, Aquino said.
Corn, an officer for 4 1/2 years,* left the department in August 2006. He is currently in federal custody, serving a 2 1/3 -year term for possessing a firearm as a user of an illegal drug. In 2005, he was arrested for accepting $1,000 to provide protection in a drug deal at Starbucks in Ward Centre. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser firearms charge after admitting he was addicted to cocaine and had sold small amounts in 2004.
Friday, June 22, 2007
» James Corn was a Honolulu police officer for four and a half years, ending in August 2006. A Page A4 article yesterday incorrectly said he was an officer for 4 1/2 months.