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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 31, 2002

Arakawa OK to drive, pal says

By David Waite
Advertiser Staff Writer

A friend testified yesterday that he drank with former Honolulu police officer Clyde Arakawa for more than seven hours on Oct. 7, 2000, and just before parting company near midnight, asked Arakawa if he could drive home safely.

Arakawa asked the same of him, as was his custom during the five or six times a year the two friends would meet at a bar to drink, talk story or throw darts, Hilario Martin testified at Arakawa's manslaughter trial.

After the two men assured each other they were OK, they shook hands and went their separate ways, Martin said.

A few minutes later, Arakawa, 50, was involved in a fatal collision at the intersection of Pali Highway and School Street.

City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle maintains that a drunken Arakawa was traveling at more than twice the speed limit and ran a red light before his 1993 Ford Thunderbird collided with a 2000 Honda Civic driven by University of Hawai'i student Dana Ambrose.

Carlisle told the jury during the trial's opening on Tuesday that Arakawa drank 10 to 11 beers and one shot of hard liquor.

Arakawa's lawyer, Michael Ostendorp, claims that Arakawa was not drunk, that he had the right of way and that Ambrose, 19, was speeding home from work when she ran a red light, causing the collision. She died of injuries received in the crash.

Martin, 42, yesterday estimated that Arakawa drank six to eight beers and a shot of hard liquor.

He testified Arakawa had called him earlier in the afternoon and suggested the two meet at the Tropic's Diner in the Ala Moana Farmers Market Building on Auahi Street. He said he met Arakawa in the parking lot outside the diner at about 4:30 and had "five or six beers" over the next three hours while Arakawa drank four or five beers.

He said he then went with Arakawa to Side Street Inn on Hopaka Street near Ala Moana Center, where he had two or three more beers and a shot of Crown Royal whiskey, while Arakawa drank one or two more beers and also had a shot of hard liquor.

After they returned to the parking lot in front of Farmers Market, where Arakawa had left his car, the two decided to go back to Tropic's for a final beer, Martin said.

He said he and Arakawa each finished the final beer. Martin, who had to work the next morning at 7:30, said he decided to head home because it was nearing midnight.

"We asked each other, 'How are you?' and we both said, 'Fine, fine,'" and the two of them headed home, Martin said.

In response to questions from Ostendorp, Martin said that Arakawa did not appear to be intoxicated when the two left for home and that Arakawa was steady on his feet.

But three police officers who responded to the fatal crash each testified yesterday that Arakawa showed signs of alcohol impairment.

Sgt. Madeline Morikawa, who arrived at the scene minutes after the collision, said Arakawa refused medical treatment; told her that he was a police officer and that he had the green light; and asked her to find witnesses for him.

"He told me he didn't know where (Ambrose) had come from until it was too late," she said.

She said Arakawa was standing "just a couple of feet away" and she could smell "an alcoholic beverage" on his breath.

Police Sgt. Robert Green said other police officers told him that they smelled alcohol on Arakawa's breath. Green said that on the basis of his observations and what others had told him, he asked Arakawa at about 1:20 a.m. to take a "field sobriety test."

Green said a police union lawyer, whom he did not name, who was standing next to Arakawa, told him: "Based on the advice of his attorney, (Arakawa) is not going to take the test."

Green testified that he told the lawyer he had no right to be at the scene and that Arakawa, acting on his attorney's advice, then said he was not going to take the sobriety test.

Green testified that in the report he filed the day after the crash and in an interview with police internal affairs investigators four days after the crash, he reported smelling an alcoholic beverage on Arakawa's breath and noticing that his eyes were blurry and bloodshot.

In his internal affairs interview, Green told investigators that from his observations of Arakawa, "it would be my educated guess that he had been drinking."

Police officer Kurt Ng said he arrested Arakawa on suspicion of "driving under the influence" after Arakawa refused to take the sobriety test. He said he jotted down notes that indicated Arakawa's eyes were red and bloodshot and that Arakawa "appeared to be a little unsteady on his feet."

In response to the police officers' testimony, Ostendorp suggested that the alcohol smell on Arakawa could be from mouthwash or aftershave and that his watery or bloodshot eyes could be an allergic reaction.

Reach David Waite at dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8030.