EXCLUSIVE: HPD sued over violent arrest caught on video

HPD arrests Jonah Kaahu
HPD arrests Jonah Kaahu

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hauula man has sued the Honolulu Police Department over the use of excessive force and claims the department withheld key evidence that would have kept him out of jail.

Thirty-year-old Jonah Kaahu's violent arrest on Aug. 22, 2012 was captured on video by friends and patrons at Giovanni's Shrimp Shack in Haleiwa.

"It ruined my life," Kaahu said. "These guys have so much power, they can go around and do whatever they like and it's nothing to them that they can ruin people's lives."

Kaahu was held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center for nine months before Circuit Judge Ed Kubo tossed his case last year due to police misconduct.

The judge found that police withheld more than 500 pages of documents, including witness testimony and cell phone videos of the beating taken by friends and tourist visiting Giovanni's.

"(Kaahu's) motion was granted in part as to the HPD officers accused of crimes of violence and dishonesty," Kubo's order said. "(Kaahu's) due process rights were violated, resulting in prejudice."

Prosecutors had charged Kaahu with terroristic threatening, assault against a police officer and criminal property damage.

Myles Breiner, Kaahu's attorney, said his client was the wrong man. Kaahu was doing routine maintenance work at Giovanni's when a dispute involving a co-worker broke out.

Kaahu allegedly told someone to call police before grabbing a shovel to protect his co-worker.

But after police showed up, amid the ensuing chaos, he tried to run away, and that's when police arrested him.

"One of the officers placed his handcuffs in his hands and beat him at the back of his head like brass knuckles," Breiner said. "Another officer reached in with pepper spray and put it right in his face."

Police ignored the pleas of people at the scene, who said Kaahu was not the instigator, Breiner said.

HPD officials had no comment. All five officers who took part in the arrest remain on the job.

Kaahu now lives on Maui, where he's recovering from the trauma of the arrest.

"It disturbed me my whole life. I lost my job. I got indicted on this stuff. It just ruined every part of my life," Kaahu said.

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