by Andrew Walden
Should Police Commissioners keep HPD’s secrets?
Does retired HPD Captain Ben Mahi have a story to tell?
Mahi, nominated March 22, 2021, to the Honolulu Police Commission by Mayor Blangiardi, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. His nomination will soon go before the County Council. (UPDATE: On agenda for April 14, 2021 pg 5)
Promoted to Captain by then-Chief Louis Kealoha on January 19, 2014, Mahi was the 2nd-highest-ranking officer of HPD Division 1, when a drunken Division 1 Sgt Anson Kimura accidentally shot waitress Hyun Ju Park. The shooting occurred at 1:45AM on April 3, 2015 in King's Sports Bar on South King Street, within the Division 1 patrol area. Two other HPD officers, Sterling Naki and Joshua Omoso, were allegedly drinking with Kimura. Ms. Park was shot in the abdomen and her wound was life-threatening.
Civil Beat, April 4, 2017, reports:
...(Park’s lawyer Eric Seitz said), after the shooting several members of HPD and the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers showed up on the scene while Naki and Omoso were allowed to leave. Seitz said it appeared that the sole purpose was to protect Kimura.
Seitz also alleged that none of the officers at the scene called 911 or sent for an ambulance.
“They did nothing to help the woman who was shot,” Seitz said in an interview. “They were more concerned about protecting their friend.”
At least ten unnamed officers received discipline which appears to relate to the Kimura shooting incident and cover-up as outlined in the 2016 HPD Misconduct Report reference numbers 16-009 through 16-019. This includes four officers each given a 10-day suspension for "failure to properly supervise his subordinates at scene of off-duty shooting incident."
Mahi retired from HPD July 31, 2016, after only 2.5 years as Captain.
On his nomination form, Mahi answers “No” to Question 12: “Are there any incidents in your past that may jeopardize your nomination?”
Is the Council looking for a police commissioner who will keep secrets even at the expense of his own career?