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HPD: No criminal case for sergeant in abuse probe

    Lawmakers question HPD Chief Louis Kealoha, center, at informational briefing at state Capitol Tuesday.

The Honolulu Police Department has concluded there’s no criminal case against one of its sergeants who was investigated for domestic violence because of an incident with his girlfriend that was caught by a restaurant’s surveillance cameras. 

Chief Louis Kealoha said he was prepared to show the video at a Tuesday domestic violence hearing attended by lawmakers, the media and others. But state Sen. Will Espero asked that lawmakers first see the video privately before it’s shown to the public.

The police probe was triggered when surveillance footage surfaced earlier this month showing the sergeant punching his girlfriend at a Waipahu restaurant. The woman in the incident reportedly claimed it was horseplay, Espero said. 

“There wasn’t enough to bring a criminal charge,” Kealoha told reporters. He added some witnesses might have been reluctant to cooperate after the video circulated online.

Police turned over the criminal investigation to prosecutors, who could decide to take further action. Dave Koga, spokesman for the Honolulu prosecutor’s office, said it’s still under investigation whether there will be any charges. 

Kealoha told members of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs and the House Committee on Public Safety that an administrative review continues and the sergeant remains without any police powers. 

The video that was to be aired at the hearing “shows a complete picture,” beyond what’s seen in footage that was sent anonymously to Honolulu television stations. 

Concerns about how the department handles domestic violence calls was a main reason lawmakers called for the hearing. 

Lawmakers pressed Kealoha and other top brass on the department’s policies when it comes to domestic violence investigations involving officers. Officers who responded to the Waipahu incident didn’t file a report but should have. Deputy Chief for Patrol Operations Marie McCauley said those officers will be disciplined. 

Kealoha said the department is looking into what the responding officers knew about the incident. He said a 911 call that sent officers to the restaurant wasn’t for domestic violence but for a male employee reporting an argument between himself and an officer. 

There are about 50 cases a year involving domestic violence in the department’s Professional Standards Office, formerly known as Internal Affairs, said Deputy Chief for Administrative Operations Dave Kajihiro. He said there currently are three or four open cases.  

“I’m not saying we’re a perfect organization, but we’re one of the best in the nation,” Kealoha said. He added there is room for improvement when it comes to training and technology for all domestic violence cases. 

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