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Probe finds Maui police chief accident handled properly

WAILUKU, Maui — The Maui Police Department properly handled an accident involving its chief backing his truck into a parked motorcycle at a shopping center, an independent investigation concluded.

The Maui Police Commission asked their counterparts in Honolulu to investigate whether then-Chief Tivoli Faaumu should face any charges for leaving the scene of last year’s accident and whether there was any misconduct.

The investigation found the department properly classified the accident at Queen Kaahumanu Center as a civil matter and followed police policies.

Members of the Maui Police Commission are scheduled to review the report at a meeting Wednesday and discuss it with the investigator, Honolulu Police Commission Executive Director James Yuen.

After the accident, Faaumu said he received an anonymous letter saying a copy of the surveillance video would be sent to the media and giving him a deadline to retire by the end of last year.

Faaumu said his decision to retire last month was unrelated to the incident.

Faaumu, who was shopping with his wife at the mall Nov. 7, told the investigator he didn’t see anything behind him when he reversed his white truck out of a stall and didn’t feel a bump before he drove forward and went home.

Faaumu said he learned later that evening that his truck had hit the 2019 Harley-Davidson motorcycle when a police officer called him after the motorcycle owner reported the accident and provided mall security video that showed the truck registered to Faaumu hitting the motorcycle.

Faaumu checked his truck and saw a small gouge on a plastic portion of his rear bumper. He called Deputy Chief Dean Rickard to advise him about what happened, according to the investigation report.

When the accident was reported, a rookie police officer volunteered to take the case to gain experience and responded with his field training officer toward the end of the shift. After meeting with the motorcycle owner, who works as a security guard at the mall and seeing the surveillance video of the accident, the officers learned the truck was registered to Faaumu.

The field training officer reported taking over the investigation and calling supervisors who told the officer to initiate a civil motor vehicle accident case. Neither of the responding officers interviewed Faaumu, who was called by a higher-ranking officer.

The investigation report said classifying the accident as civil and minor was proper because it occurred on private property and damages were less than $3,000 for each vehicle. Because Faaumu was off-duty and using his subsidized vehicle on his day-off, requirements for accidents involving subsidized vehicles didn’t apply, the report said.

The motorcycle owner told Yuen that he hadn’t gotten an estimate for damages to the motorcycle because the business he bought it from had been closed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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