Officer arrested at airport after arriving home
He’s charged with attempted perjury, other charges
A Maui police officer accused of sending text messages and making a phone call offering to help a woman he arrested for drunken driving was arrested as soon as he arrived at Kahului Airport on Monday afternoon.
Officer Brandon Saffeels, who had been on vacation, was taken to the Wailuku Police Station for processing after his arrest on a warrant at about 6 p.m. Saffeels faces charges of attempted perjury, attempted hindering prosecution in the first degree and tampering with a witness, police said in a news release Monday evening.
The warrant was based on information gathered thus far in an ongoing criminal investigation, police said.
According to a Hawaii News Now story that aired last week, the woman alleged that the officer sent her text messages and called her after arresting her for DUI in the early-morning hours of July 25. The officer invited the woman to his house and offered to testify in a way that would help her if her case went to trial, according to the news report.
Police said the Criminal Investigation Division obtained text messages and voice recordings that support the allegations against the officer.
In a video statement on the department’s Facebook page posted Monday, Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu said: “I will not tolerate any misconduct of my officers.”
“The Maui community has been devastated by the recent report of inappropriate conduct and abuse of authority by one of my officers,” he said. “I know many of you have come to question your trust in your police department. I hear you, and like you am disappointed in these revelations.
“Actions speak louder than words. We have taken action.”
He said that “it is with extreme regret that our community has to face this repulsive act. It has cut deep into the fabric of our department mission statement and the spirit of aloha.”
He hoped that the “healing process” would begin soon.
Faaumu also noted that the defendant has rights and protections afforded by the law, which considers individuals innocent until proven guilty.
Saffeels has been with the department for four years. His bail status and whether he remained incarcerated were unclear Monday night.
Court records show that charges were dismissed without prejudice last week against the 29-year-old Kahului woman who was arrested for DUI by the officer after a crash. She had been charged with habitually driving under the influence of an intoxicant, inattention to driving and not having automobile insurance.
Maui police have asked anyone who may have had similar experiences with Saffeels to contact Detective Matt Bigoss by email at Matthew.Bigoss@mpd.net.
* Lee Imada can be reached at email@example.com.