Investigation sheds light on HPD domestic violence policy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Police Sgt. Darren Cachola has been stripped of his police powers as the department investigates an alleged assault that was caught on video. The big question for internal affairs: Why didn't the responding officers arrest Sergeant Cachola that night? The answer may lie in HPD's domestic violence policy.

“We have to see visible injuries, the complainant -- the victim themselves -- need to make the complaint,” Police Chief Louis Kealoha said at a press conference. “Last but not least, we have to see visible injuries.”

Loretta Sheehan, an attorney, said she doesn't understand the policy.

“As a policy, it makes no sense at all,” she said. “There are many, many ways to hurt somebody and not leave any visible marks. You can pull their hair, throw them against a refrigerator, kick them in the groin and you are not necessarily going to see anything.”

Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro agreed with Sheehan, saying arrests should not depend on a potentially terrified victim.

“A victim testifying that ‘I am fine' doesn't necessarily mean that a crime has not been committed,” Kaneshiro said, adding that arrests should be based on probable cause, the likelihood that a crime was committed.

“The officer has a duty to investigate all the circumstances, not just take a statement from the victim, but to take statements of witness to see whether witnesses saw a crime being committed,” Kaneshiro said.

“If they have this policy, it seems to me they better change it,” Sheehan said. “It's unconstitutional,” Sheehan said.

In other words, unfair, advocates say, since HPD's policy puts a larger burden on domestic violence victims than on victims of other crimes.

“They are deciding for a crime, where 99 percent of the victims are women, that they are going to enforce the law in a different way," Sheehan said.

HPD did not specify how long the internal investigation would take.

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