POSTED: 4:17 pm HST January 5, 2004 |UPDATED: 9:36 am HST January 6, 2004
Police Dept. Sends Family Letter Promising Review, Help For Officers
HONOLULU -- The Honolulu Police Department has settled a lawsuit with the family of a teenager killed by a drunken driving off-duty officer three years ago, KITV 4 News has learned.
The Honolulu Police Department is not saying it was in any way responsible for the death of Dana Ambrose, but KITV 4 News was told that the department is promising it will try to do more to identify and help officers who have alcohol or drug problems. Veteran police Sgt. Clyde Arakawa was drunk when he ran a red light at the corner of Pali Highway and School Street and struck the car Ambrose was driving. Arakawa is serving 20 years for manslaughter.
Ambrose's family sued Arakawa and the bars that served him, but they also sued HPD partly because Arakawa seemed to get friendly treatment by officers at the scene and also because they believed the department knew Arakawa was an alcoholic after he passed out in a stranger's house and was arrested in 1993. Arakawa apparently received some kind of counseling then, but remained on the force and continued to drink until he killed Ambrose.
The Police Department and city will apparently not have to pay any money to the Ambrose family, but it has written a letter, which admits no wrongdoing. The letter says HPD's current policies cannot prevent all tragedies, but also promises review codes of conduct and work with its union to do a better job of identifying and helping officers with alcohol or drug problems.
The Ambrose family, along with attorneys: Rick Fried and Eric Seitz, have scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon to announce the settlement and talk more about what they hope the Police Department will do.