The victim of a hit-and-run case that involved an off-duty police officer is speaking out.
Earlier this week, we told you the case had been dismissed because prosecutors couldn’t get a hold of witnesses, who were in the car Sylvester allegedly hit, needed to prove the case.
That meant charges against Honolulu police officer Brent Sylvester had to be tossed out and cannot be filed again.
Prosecutors told us they made several efforts to get the witnesses to appear in court, but the victim told us Friday he never heard from them.
How could that have happened?
The Honolulu prosecutor’s office says it was never able to serve the subpoena, which has to be done in person.
Phone calls were made to try to reach the victim and his passengers, but it’s not clear whether they ever received them.
“When he hit us, our car kind of went at an angle, but it was still moving in a forward motion. It didn’t veer off towards the way that we were facing,” said Reupena Ah-Key, the alleged hit-and-run victim.
Ah-Key says he was driving eastbound on the H-1 Freeway when his car was smashed by a driver who then took off. He and his two passengers followed him and called police which led to the arrest.
That was in April and on Tuesday, a judge dismissed the charges because witnesses never showed in court.
“I was just very angry. How could they just drop this case?” Ah-Key said.
Ah-Key says nobody ever notified him, so we asked the deputy prosecutor who handled the case and he said there were many attempts to subpoena Ah-Key, which has to be done in person.
“The process server went out at least three times, talked to the father that was at the residence, left him a card saying to contact me, I need to serve him a subpoena,” said deputy prosecutor Derrick Wong. “Process server never got any contact from the father or Mr. Ah-Key.”
Wong says investigators then went back to the house and tried a few more times, left their business card, and left a message with Ah-Key’s grandfather, who was home.
“Grandfather said, ‘Oh yeah, he doesn’t live here. He lives in town.’ The investigator noticed that his card was still on the refrigerator door, so he asked hey, did you even tell the grandson? He said, ‘Oh yeah, I told him about it,'” said Wong.
“Did your grandfather ever tell you anything?” KHON2 asked Ah-Key.
“No, he didn’t,” Ah-Key replied.
“Do you think he ever got the message?” KHON2 asked.
“Well if he did, it might have slipped his mind. He’s an old man,” Ah-Key said.
Prosecutors say they had four different phone numbers for Ah-Key and left several messages on each of them.
“We can only call so many times and leave so many voicemails,” said Wong.
“I’ve had the same cell number ever since and it’s been on all this time. I’ve never had any missed messages, no missed calls from anybody,” said Ah-Key.
We checked with prosecutors to make sure they had the right phone number, and they did.
Ah-Key’s attorney says prosecutors should have sent a notice by mail. That’s what police did, and Ah-Key received a letter about the investigation.
“So if they’re able to address a letter to him, certainly the prosecutor’s office could have done the same thing,” said attorney Myles Breiner.
But prosecutors point out that subpoenas have to be served in person, so they cannot be mailed.
Prosecutors say they tried contacting Ah-Key’s passengers and had no luck with them either.
We did ask the prosecutor’s office about mailing a letter saying they’re trying to reach the witness. A spokesman said leaving a business card could be considered a form of mail.