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More than 10 Honolulu police officers are under investigation for how they responded to a fight between a fellow sergeant and his girlfriend at a Waipahu restaurant last month.
Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha made the revelation during a press conference Friday in which his department released the full video from Kuni’s Restaurant that shows Sgt. Darren Cachola repeatedly striking his girlfriend.
The department also provided the media with a 911 recording in which the restaurant’s manager said he had been attacked by Cachola. The 911 operator is currently under investigation for being rude during the call.
Kealoha released the video and the recordings after repeated requests from the media, including Civil Beat. He said he “was taken aback” after watching the footage, but noted that the video provides context that previously leaked video did not show.
“It tells a different story,” Kealoha said. “They’re both engaging in combative behavior.”
He added that the scuffle between Cachola and his girlfriend was “totally inexcusable.”
Cachola’s case erupted publicly after surveillance video was sent to the media showing him taking multiple swings at his girlfriend inside Kuni’s. The video came out around the same time NFL running back Ray Rice was in the news for punching his girlfriend in a casino elevator. That incident too was caught on tape.
Reaction from Hawaii citizens and lawmakers was swift. Domestic violence victim advocates denounced HPD’s handling of the Cachola case and others involving abuse, while the Women’s Legislative Caucus and female members of the Honolulu City Council called for reforms.
There were also concerns HPD tried to cover up the incident. Cachola was never arrested and no reports were filed by the responding officers.
HPD did not push for criminal charges, saying there was not enough evidence. The case was also forwarded to Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, who convened a grand jury that did not indict Cachola.
On Friday, Deputy Police Chief Dave Kajihiro explained that the department is still conducting an extensive administrative investigation into the incident, and is looking into “everything” contained in the video.
He walked reporters through the footage, explaining the sequence of events, from Cachola taking swings at his girlfriend to her pulling him away from the restaurant manager, who was trying to call the police.
But even though the video demonstrates what appears to be domestic violence, Kajihiro said the lack of evidence, such as injuries to the girlfriend and witness statements, makes it difficult to charge anyone with a crime.
“It is a weird relationship,” Kajihiro said, “but there is no proof that domestic violence occurred.”
Kajihiro, who oversees HPD’s internal affairs division, admitted the handling of the situation was “not perfect” and said the department is taking the investigation “very seriously.” He expects the investigation to take a long time because of how many people are involved.
The officers under investigation face penalties ranging from a written reprimand to dismissal.
You can watch the videos from Kuni’s here: