Mother of injured son details how police say they mishandled investigation

In a meeting behind closed doors, the Honolulu Police Department told a family the prosecutor’s office is the last option to find out who’s responsible for their toddler’s injuries.

Peyton Valiente suffered a serious brain injury in January 2015. He was in the hospital for a month.

The toddler’s family believes the boy was hurt while at a day care run by the wife of a Honolulu police officer who recently retired.

Two years later, he’s doing much better, but his mother worries about his future.

Chelsea Valiente said, “He’ll always be at risk for seizures. It’s hard to say what the lasting effects of his injuries will be later down the road.”

So far, the 3-year-old isn’t asking questions about how he got the injury, but Chelsea Valiente is.

No one has been arrested yet, and the family tells us the department admitted it dropped the ball over how the investigation was conducted.

HPD spoke privately with Valiente about what went wrong during the investigation.

“There’s a lot of things that didn’t happen. It was confirmed they never even visited the site of where Peyton was injured,” Valiente said, “and that was appalling when I found out.”

Valiente says HPD’s top brass told her they weren’t happy with the investigation.

“One of the outrageous things I found out is that one of the three people that could have possibly hurt Peyton, or was capable of hurting him, was not even interviewed. Although there was an attempt made, it was never followed through,” Valiente said.

“Did they give you a reason for why it wasn’t followed through?” KHON2 asked.

“No,” Valiente said.

Valiente says on Wednesday, HPD offered one last option: to get the prosecuting office to assemble an investigative grand jury.

“I was told in their opinion, it’s very rare, but I’m a very half glass full type of person. With Peyton’s case I’m cautiously optimistic,” she said. “I just don’t like to be told nothing is possible if we haven’t reached the end of the road yet. I’d like to exhaust all possible options before you can make that conclusion.”

Valiente says HPD can no longer conduct interviews with witnesses because they’ve lawyered up.

But the family hopes HPD’s new leaders will pull through and bring justice for Peyton.

“It was a sincere apology on behalf of the department. At this point I feel like it’s too little, too late, you know?” Valiente said. “Now that these people are no longer cooperating. We might not have answers for Peyton, and that’s my greatest fear. The agony of having to tell Peyton once he starts to question what happened with his scar is I won’t have an explanation for my son.”

We asked for an interview with police, but they declined citing an active investigation.

In a statement, the department said “even though the policies and procedures were followed, the review showed areas where the investigation fell short of HPD’s investigative standards.”

“How can you have policies and procedures followed and the investigation did not meet standards?” questioned state Sen. Will Espero. “It seems like the comment should have been outright. ‘We did poor, sloppy work, and we apologize to the family and residents of Oahu.’ That should have been the comment. ”

Espero says he plans to follow up with the department to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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