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Thursday, October 12, 2000

Police reports
indicate Arakawa
was DUI

Donohue says the veteran
police officer did receive
'courtesies' after the
fatal accident Saturday

By Debra Barayuga

There was probable cause to believe Clyde Arakawa was driving under the influence of alcohol, according to police reports submitted to the state Judiciary's Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office.

Based on Arakawa's refusal to take a sobriety test and police reports from the scene indicating alcohol use, chief adjudicator Ronald Sakata yesterday revoked the officer's driver's license for one year, effective Nov. 8.

The 48-year-old Arakawa, a Honolulu police officer for 25 years, was off duty when his car broadsided a Honda Civic shortly before midnight Saturday at an intersection on Pali Highway near School Street.

Nineteen-year-old Dana Ambrose, who was driving the Honda, was pronounced dead at the Queen's Medical Center about 30 minutes after the 11:50 p.m. collision.

Arresting officer Kurt Ng's report notes that Arakawa, on the advice of his attorney, refused Sgt. Robert Green's request that he submit to a field sobriety test at 1:20 a.m. Sunday, nearly 90 minutes after police responded to the scene.

During the 90-minute period, David Gierlach, an attorney for the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, was contacted by telephone and advised officers on scene that Arakawa should not make any statements until he had a chance to consult with the suspect, says a report submitted by officer Brian Taniguchi.

Gierlach arrived on the scene at about 1:20 a.m. and met with Arakawa, the report said.

Until yesterday, when the department faxed a late-afternoon statement from Chief Lee Donohue to the media, police administrators have publicly denied Arakawa received any special treatment.

But in the statement, Donohue confirmed Arakawa did receive some "courtesies."

"Today, I learned that courtesies were extended to Officer Arakawa in the early stages of the investigation that are not afforded to every suspect," Donohue said.

"These courtesies have had no impact or bearing on the investigation but should not have happened. We will take steps to insure that this does not happen again. If disciplinary action is warranted, we will take action."

Donohue, who has asked for a review of the way the Arakawa case has been investigated, did not specify what the "courtesies" were, but they appear to have occurred before the suspect refused the sobriety test.

The chief was unavailable for comment.

Ng arrested Arakawa at 1:25 a.m. for DUI. In describing the suspect's condition, he noted, "At this time I had detected an odor resembling an alcohol-type beverage on his breath and that his eyes were red and glassy."

At the main police station receiving desk, Arakawa signed an administrative revocation of drivers license form at 2:05 a.m., acknowledging that he was aware of the sanctions for refusing sobriety testing, says Ng's report.

In Green's report, the sergeant said he arrived at the scene at 12:08 a.m. and after conferring with a lieutenant, it was agreed at 1:15 a.m. that Green request Arakawa take a sobriety test. "Arakawa told me that based on the advice of counsel, he was refusing the test," Green said in his report.

Under "demeanor" in his report, Green concurred with Ng by noting: "While speaking to Mr. Arakawa, I could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath. I also saw that his eyes were glassy and bloodshot."

Taniguchi reported Arakawa "was sad about the situation" and asked several times about the condition of the other driver.

In his report, Taniguchi says Arakawa stated he was heading mauka on Pali Highway and had a green light, so he proceeded into the intersection, and that he did not know where the Honda came from. Arakawa suffered an abrasion to his left forearm and twice refused medical attention.

He was arrested for negligent homicide and DUI and released pending further investigation. He was on vacation Saturday and is still on vacation. The Internal Affairs criminal section has been monitoring the investigation, which is being conducted by traffic vehicular homicide officers.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle says all evidence will be reviewed -- independently, if necessary -- when police submit the case for determination.

"We'll look at this thing under a microscope, no ifs, ands or buts," Carlise said. "If there's evidence of extended courtesies, we'll need to know what it was and why."

Arakawa has six days to contest the revocation ruling by requesting a hearing.

The state has ordered Arakawa to report to the Division of Driver Education and make an appointment for alcohol assessment.

By law, refusal to submit to Intoxilyzer or blood tests is a reason in and of itself to revoke a person's driver's license, Sakata said.

Star-Bulletin reporter Rod Ohira
contributed to this report.

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