HPD sergeant should be arrested, law professor says

Many are still asking why a Honolulu police sergeant has not been arrested after he was caught on video assaulting a woman in a Waipahu restaurant.

Police chief Louis Kealoha assured the public a full investigation was underway and said an arrest now would be premature.

The 18-year veteran of the force has been stripped of police powers and assigned to desk duty, Kealoha said Wednesday, “and the reason why is we’re still collecting the evidence. We’re still interviewing witnesses.”

The head of the police union agreed Thursday, saying a video is not enough to put someone behind bars.

“It wouldn’t be prudent for the officers to arrest just on the video. That’s not sufficient enough for them,” SHOPO President Tenari Maafala said. “Especially when you have the victim there saying, ‘Hey, I have no injuries. I don’t want to press charges. We were playing around.'”

But one legal expert KHON2 talked to completely disagrees.

“What else do you need to see? I mean, it’s clear as day she’s getting the hell beat out of her and he needs to be arrested. I don’t know how much clearer this can be,” said Ken Lawson, University of Hawaii law professor.

Kealoha said Wednesday that police either have to see visible injuries or the victim needs to make the complaint.

“The reason why they want visible injuries when they show up to a domestic violence call is that supports or corroborates the claim that somebody hit me,” Lawson said. “But when you have a videotape actually showing it, what do you need visible injuries for?”

Lawson also believes HPD’s reaction to this incident does not put the department in a very good light. He said the sergeant involved in the incident is receiving special treatment because of his position.

“Had this happen to any other man, any other man was videotaped, the situation would have been different?” KHON2 asked.

“I have defended domestic violence cases on way less evidence than this — way less evidence than this,” Lawson said.

The victim has not pressed any charges against the sergeant.

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