A man found guilty of killing a Honolulu police officer in a fiery crash four years ago learned his fate Wednesday.
Before a packed gallery, Scott Ebert received a one-year prison sentence for negligent homicide.
In January 2012, officer Garret Davis had stopped to help a driver with a blown tire on the H-1 Freeway when Ebert’s truck slammed into the back of Davis’ patrol car, killing the 28-year-old. Ebert had been driving more than 80 miles per hour.
He faced Davis’ family and fellow officers in court Wednesday.
“I will have to find a way to live with this, with this torment and guilt, for the rest of my life,” Ebert said. “I apologize to the Davis family and to the Honolulu Police Department.”
For the first time since the crash, Davis’ sister, Amanda Stevens, got a chance to speak to Ebert.
“I wished I had a way to make you feel the way I had felt so many times these four and a half years as waves of grief wash over me,” she said. “Just when I think maybe things are starting to be okay, however joyous the occasion is sparked by sadness.
“My brother was a family man too. The difference is that he did not get to continue to live in his 40s, to grow his family as you have,” she said. “My family was destroyed because of you, destroyed! I want to find the words, excuse me, which not only describe the incredible brother, friend, son, father and officer that was lost when you killed Garret, that words which can make you feel and appreciate the void that has been in my heart and our lives since January 21, 2012.”
Ebert was tried on a manslaughter charge, but a jury ultimately convicted him of third-degree negligent homicide, which carries a lighter sentence.
“I often think about the amount of pain the family and friends of Officer Garret Davis have been forced to absorb of losing their beloved son and their brother, father and friend. These daily thoughts come crashing over with grief and shame knowing I was involved with the passing of their loved one,” Ebert said in court.
In the end, the judge sentenced Ebert to one year in jail, the maximum sentence for the misdemeanor.
Ebert has worked as a firefighter and emergency medical technician, and is currently a safety officer with the Navy.
“So in this matter we have a good man who made extremely selfish, stupid decisions that had lethal consequences. So the court not only imposes the sentence for purposes of punishment, but also to demonstrate to the community that this kind of conduct will not be allowed,” said Oahu Circuit Court Judge Colette Garibaldi.
“We obviously had hoped the conviction would be for more than a misdemeanor, but I think it’s important that the court gave a message, that distracted driving does kill, that good people can make bad decisions that cost lives, good lives,” Stevens said.
Now, in the wake of Davis’ death, Hawaii has the “move over” law. Drivers are required to slow down and move over a lane, if possible, when coming up on emergency vehicles.