Two VicPD officers helped to stop a sexual assault in Hawaii this week. (Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS)

UPDATED: Man faces sexual assault charges in Hawaii after off-duty Victoria police officers stop assault

Victoria Police Chief Del Manak ‘very proud’ of officers

Victoria’s police chief says he’s “very proud” of two off-duty VicPD officers he says stopped a sexual assault while on vacation in Hawaii.

Chief Del Manak says Const. Hayley Swann and Const. Brent Keddell were out for a morning run on Dec. 31 in a park in Kona, on the Big Island, when they heard a woman screaming.

“As they get closer they hear a definite scream, they can tell it’s a cry for help,” Manak says. “They start running towards the woman.”

They found two women, one injured and in serious distress. Keddell noticed a man walking away and approached him.

The officers’ “instincts kicked in” – Keddell helping a witness speak with 911 dispatchers, while keeping his eyes on the suspect, and Swann, who works as a domestic violence investigator, helping to calm down the victims.

Police arrived and took Justin Michael Bardwell, 32, into custody. He was charged with open lewdness, fourth degree sexual assault and second-degree terroristic threatening and kidnapping. Before his arrest Bardwell was wanted by police in connection with the arson of a vacation rental home in Volcano.

READ ALSO: Drivers flee VicPD’s first impaired driving roadblocks of December

According to Black Press Media’s West Hawaii Today, the two women spoke at a preliminary hearing in Kona District Court on Tuesday. They both testified to coming across Bardwell masturbating on a public path.

When he spotted them he began to chase them, yelling “stop, obey me, I’m going to get you.”

The women said they ran but one of them fell down and Bardwell jumped on top of her, keeping her pinned to the ground. He threw rocks at her friend when she tried to help, eventually getting up and chasing her too. The women escaped him and made it to a group of people nearby who had heard their cries for help.

Keddell and Swan both gave evidence and will likely be called back for the trial, according to Manak. The police chief is extremely proud of how his team members responded, saying there were no two better officers to have been there in that moment.

“As a police chief I’m extremely proud of the actions these officers took, the fact they intervened, their level of professionalism and compassion,” he says. “They protected their own safety and prevented and stopped what was a really violent attack.”

“I’m really grateful they were there to help.”

READ ALSO: Drivers flee VicPD’s first impaired driving roadblocks of December



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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