By Jacob Nakamura
More information continues to come to light about the puzzling series of events leading to and following the destruction of Jerry's Kitchen in Tamuning.
Depending on the source of information, either three or four women were in the red Jeep that rammed into the restaurant around 1:30 a.m. February 25. The Pacific Daily News published surveillance footage of the Jeep speeding around cars on the left-turning northbound lane of the ITC intersection before turning left, passing between concrete poles, going airborne into the plaza, then ramming the restaurant store front.
Chief of Police Stephen Ignacio told Kandit that responding police officer Chris Champion neither administered any sobriety test, nor reviewed nearby surveillance footage prior to determining whether to arrest anyone, or close the case as a simple, 'Auto Ran Off Roadway.'
"Officers are trained to assess the scene, take statements from the parties, and make a proper determination of what's happened," Mr. Ignacio told Kandit in defense of Champion's actions.
Mr. Ignacio confirmed one of his off-duty police officers was a passenger in the Jeep, after the Office of Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje lied to Kandit that the senator's granddaughter, GPD officer Joneen Terlaje, was not on the scene of the crash until after it happened. The police chief also confirmed no video surveillance was reviewed to verify that Ms. Terlaje was not, in fact, the driver of the Jeep.
Jerry Li, the owner of the restaurant, told the Pacific Daily News that the crash report does not name any of the occupants of the Jeep. Mr. Champion was supposed to have written that information into the report.
Despite these facts, the police chief has NOT yet ordered an internal affairs investigation into the conduct of both Terlaje and Champion. He has instead ordered the traffic investigation to be reopened, and assigned GPD's Highway Patrol Division to it.
It has been 10 days since the crash happened. That means it has been 10 days since GPD knew or should have known about the conduct of Officers Terlaje and Champion. That means, according to Guam law, there only are 50 calendar days left for the police chief to take administrative action that holds these officers to the appropriate standards of conduct required by the government of Guam.
Possible motives suspected for coverup emerge
Guam Fire Department spokeswoman Cherika Cruz confirmed to Kandit that no medics responded to the scene of the crash, though a fire station sits just 300 feet from the restaurant. Asked whether any 911 calls were placed to respond to the crash, Ms. Cruz responded, "One 911 call reporting an auto off roadway across ITC." GFD has not responded to Kandit's Thursday request for more information, including who placed that call, what time the call placed, who the reporting person was, and why medics were not dispatched as they normally would in an incident such as that.
The GFD response that "one 911 call" was placed matches source information within GFD that has indicated that nobody from inside the red Jeep that crashed - including Officer Joneen Terlaje - called 911 to report the accident.
Only a bystander called 911; but when the call was made, officers were already on the scene, according to this source. Upon GFD confirmation of the source information, this could only mean that Terlaje or someone else in that vehicle called the Guam police dispatch directly, or possibly the precinct themselves to avoid any 911 call; hence, the Champion response to the scene without a medic in sight, and with ambulances parked just 300 feet away.
No medics responded to the scene.
Why would the passengers not want a medic to respond to check them out and make sure they are okay? That would leave a paper trail of their physical condition; and if they were transported to GMH to be checked by a doctor then urine and blood tests would be drawn as well. A police officer, like Joneen Terlaje, would know these protocols.
Further, Ms. Terlaje was recently sworn in to the U.S. Air Force and has yet to leave for basic training.
If blood or urine tests were taken at GMH, and those tests revealed a person recently-sworn into the military was under the influence and arrests were made, then that person would most likely be kicked out of the military before even being allowed to leave for basic training.