Menlo Park woman gets prison for driving incident that injured two cops


A San Mateo County judge has sentenced Hifoileva Langi Maufualu, 24, of Menlo Park to three years in prison plus financial penalties and restitution for her involvement in a November 2009 car chase that left two East Palo Alto Police Department officers injured and two patrol cars damaged, prosecutors said.

In the April 8 sentencing of Ms. Maufualu, who pleaded no contest to felony assault with a motor vehicle and felony drunken driving, Superior Court Judge Susan Etezadi required her to pay $19,600 in restitution to officers injured during the incident, with further restitution to come and fines of $340, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said in a report.

Under state law, because Ms. Maufualu's used her vehicle as a weapon, she loses her California driving privileges for life, Mr. Wagstaffe said.

The judge allowed Ms. Maufualu credit for time served in jail of 229 days. Credit can exceed the actual number of days spent in jail if the defendant is cooperative.

The incident began with Ms. Maufualu, who was driving a black Ford Explorer, colliding head on with an East Palo Alto patrol car; the collision resulted in a total loss of the vehicle and "major laceration injuries" to police Sgt. Jerry Alcaraz, who was inside, prosecutors said.

Ms. Maufualu got out of her vehicle to check for damage, but got back in and fled when another officer arrived on the scene, prosecutors said. A chase ensued at speeds that reached 60 mph through residential streets and included flying sparks after a front tire blew on the Explorer.

As she cut through a McDonald's parking lot, police blocked her in. She "spoke at" them and "suddenly accelerated" into the passenger-side door of a patrol car, prosecutors said. An officer sitting in the passenger seat suffered minor injuries.

Now penned in, Ms. Maufualu exited her vehicle at gunpoint while taking two swigs from a Gatorade bottle that contained alcohol, prosecutors said. In a blood test three hours after her arrest, Ms. Maufualu had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16, twice the legal limit, prosecutors said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 9, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Its time the police stopped chasing people through residential neighborhoods, endangering every child that lives on their path. Kids are not collateral damage. Its not worth it!

Like this comment
Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Good for EPA police at least they caught the wretch! We're still waiting for Menlo Park Police Department to bring us the head of Shannon Fox who while drag racing in Menlo Park killed Lisa Xavier, her parents only child.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Fred, she's grown woman, not a kid. she could've killed someone. While some of the high speed chases are just ridiculous, this may not have been one of them, given her intoxication level and that she was in a large vehicle. Clearly, her judgement was impaired, given the number of poor chases she made that night, starting with her drinking.

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Good for EPA & the court systems..They should make her buy 2 new police cars and anything else that was damaged !

Like this comment
Posted by epa resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Just because she lost her driving priviledges for life, means she can still drive, without a license, no insurance..they should put an ankle bracelet on her foot to monitor her

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 10, 2010 at 9:15 am

So if you don't want the cops to chase bad guys, why have them at all? Why not politely ask the criminals to turn themselves in after their crimes? That would save the cities money with the need for only a few cops, the prisons would be empty, etc. Yes chases are dangerous but if the bad guys know that all they have to do is flee and they will get away, we will be over run with criminals. We have handcuffed our police enough already. Chase on...just catch them and for God's sake be careful.

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