Civil Beat has been allowed to intervene in an ongoing battle over records detailing an arbitrator’s reasoning on why a Honolulu police officer fired for domestic violence should get his job back.

State Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey P. Crabtree’s ruling Thursday grants the news organization intervenor status in a lawsuit filed by Hawaii’s police union in May to keep secret the arbitrator’s decision to return Sgt. Darren Cachola to work.

Cachola was fired by the Honolulu Police Department after a September 2014 video surfaced showing him repeatedly beating his girlfriend inside a restaurant. Cachola appealed the decision to an arbitration judge who ruled the department was in error. 

Surveillance video shows Honolulu Police Department Sgt. Darren Cachola allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in Kuni Restaurant in Waipahu where she works.

After the city announced it planned to make the arbitration decision public, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, also known as SHOPO, sued the City and County of Honolulu to keep the records secret.

Civil Beat, which had sought the decision under Hawaii’s public records law, requested to be an intervenor in May. Now that the request has been granted, the news organization will move to file a motion to dismiss the SHOPO lawsuit.

A call to SHOPO attorney Vladimir Devens was not immediately returned.

In SHOPO’s original lawsuit, the union argued that the city’s decision to release the information had violated Cachola’s right to privacy. The arbitration decision was not released as a result of the lawsuit filing.

Civil Beat attorney Brian Black has argued that police officers do not have a constitutional right of privacy against disclosure of disciplinary records.

The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest is an independent organization created with funding from Pierre Omidyar, who is also CEO and publisher of Civil Beat. Civil Beat Editor Patti Epler sits on its board of directors.

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