The Honolulu City Council has approved spending $4.7 million to settle two lawsuits brought by three city police officers who alleged they were victims of racial and sexual discrimination, retaliation and a subsequent cover-up by top police brass.
The Council unanimously green-lighted the expenditure Wednesday near the end of a daylong hearing at Honolulu Hale. The settlement doesn’t involve any admission of liability by the city or the Honolulu Police Department.
Councilman Ikaika Anderson from Waimanalo said despite the high price tag, he was worried the taxpayers would be on the hook for even more money if the case went to trial.
Hawaii has struggled for years to enact meaningful police reform.
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“What really concerned me was the city’s potential liability if we went to court and lost,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Councilman Trevor Ozawa said in an emailed statement Wednesday that he’s concerned about the high cost of the case.
The Council has already approved spending nearly $1 million in legal fees. The first lawsuit was filed in 2010 in federal court, and a second was filed in 2013.
“As this was one of the most costly settlements, I plan to discuss with HPD representatives to explore and gain insight on what remedies have been pursued in light of this settlement,” Ozawa said.
The Honolulu Police Department hasn’t disciplined any of the more than one dozen officers who were defendants.
The defendants include Police Chief Louis Kealoha, who recently received an “exceeds expectations” review from the Police Commission even though he is the subject of an FBI investigation into possible corruption.
Read Civil Beat’s previous coverage of the case below: