HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A recently-promoted Honolulu Police Department sergeant with a history of domestic violence accusations is under internal investigation after a security surveillance video surfaced showing him apparently beating up his girlfriend in the Waipahu restaurant where she works.
But the girlfriend told police investigators and Hawaii News Now it was a "misunderstanding" and the two were "just playing around."
The video showed off-duty HPD Sgt. Darren Cachola --- an 18-year police veteran -- appearing to assault the woman, who says her name is Deberah.
She's a manager at Kuni Restaurant in Waipahu that had closed for the night when the incident happened about 10:20 p.m. Monday.
The video showed him repeatedly punching her as they moved through at least two rooms at the restaurant. Co-workers can be seen coming to her aid.
HPD has temporarily removed Cachola's police powers and started an investigation after a citizen provided HPD the video Tuesday.
"The knee-jerk reaction for myself was, this guy needs to be arrested, and needs to be brought to justice as a police officer," said HPD Chief Louis Kealoha. "But when you step back and compose yourself, then you think what needs to be done."
But his girlfriend told police internal affairs investigators Wednesday afternoon this was all a misunderstanding.
"I hit him first and we were just playing. There was no danger, no injuries, no problem," Deberah told Hawaii News Now.
She told officers who were called to the restaurant she did not want to file a police complaint.
She said she stayed at his house the night of the incident at the restaurant.
Sources said the internal affairs investigation will focus on Cachola's actions but also on whether the responding officers failed to do their jobs, since if there was probable cause such as injuries or surveillance video, the officers should have arrested Cachola and initiated an assault case, which didn't happen.
"For this type of action, a serious conduct violation, discipline can be up to and including termination," said HPD Assistant Chief Susan Dowsett.
HPD said Cachola was just promoted to sergeant in July and is assigned to the patrol division out of the Kalihi police station.
He's in the middle of a routine six months of probationary status in his higher rank following his recent promotion.
Cachola's ex-wife, with whom he had three children, filed two petitions for temporary restraining orders against him in 2002 and 2009. Both were dismissed at hearings in 2002 for lack of evidence and in 2009 by mutual consent.
Both Cachola and his ex-wife admitted putting false information in opposing TRO petitions.
He filed for divorce in 2009, she was awarded custody of all three children.
Cachola's ex-wife claimed in TRO documents that he threatened he would kill her if she called the police on him. But she called the cops anyway and made several complaints against him, including harassment.