Arakawa indictment: It's in the court's hands
Given the history of the police negligent homicide investigation of retired Honolulu police officer Clyde Arakawa, it's not surprising that eyebrows were raised over the length of time it was taking the prosecutor's office to resolve the case.
Arakawa was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and negligent homicide after the car he was driving collided with another car driven by Dana Ambrose, 19, at the intersection of Pali Highway and School Street. Ambrose was killed.
Justice delayed, the saying goes, is justice denied. Because of a combination of circumstances, citizens can't be blamed for wondering if the cause of justice was being derailed:
- Seven months had gone by without charges.
- Unusual "courtesies" were extended by fellow officers to Arakawa after the crash.
- Arakawa had retired and moved to Oregon.
- Lawyers for the victim's family said they had witnesses who would testify that Arakawa had been drinking for hours before the crash, had been driving up the Pali Highway at an almost insane rate of speed, and had run the red light, causing the crash.
Allegations made outside of a courtroom, of course, are just that. Arakawa has maintained that he was not impaired by alcohol at the time of the accident, that he had the right of way when he entered the intersection and that Ambrose ran a red light.
But given the nature of the incident and all its attendant baggage, there is a sense of relief that an O'ahu grand jury last week handed up an indictment of Arakawa.
And it's notable that while the case police turned over to the city prosecutor's office was for negligent homicide, "apparently the prosecutors thought there was enough evidence to go with the more serious charge of manslaughter," said Lt. Greg Poole, of HPD's Internal Affairs Division.
The gravity of the charge now facing Arakawa should assure skeptics in the community that the delay in bringing charges was not because the local law enforcement community was trying to find a way to "get him off," but to make sure that the case against him was as solid as possible.
In other words, the indictment appears to have been well worth the wait.