HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The mayor says the Honolulu Police Commission shouldn't take action against the police chief until charges are filed against him.
The remarks came a day after the police chief's newly-hired criminal defense attorney said he expects an indictment to be handed down in a federal investigation into the chief and his wife, a deputy city prosecutor.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said it's vital to give everyone involved in the issue a fair shake.
"I have absolute and complete confidence in the police commission that, should there be an indictment, they'll take immediate, strong and forceful action," he told Hawaii News Now.
On Wednesday, attorney Myles Breiner said he expects there will be a grand jury indictment in the case.
Hawaii News Now has previously reported that a federal grand jury has been investigating potential civil rights violations against poliec chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a politically powerful couple alleged to have used elite police units to investigate relatives while they were involved in a family financial dispute.
Breiner said the police chief will step down if indicted.
He added, "As the chief has said, as long as he is not been officially charged with any particular allegation, he is going to remain the chief of police, and I support that."
But others say the chief can't perform his duties with the case hanging over his head, especially now that his attorney has essentially removed any doubt that there is a federal investigation into the Kealohas.
"I believe that what is best for everyone at this stage is for the chief to step down and be temporarily reassigned until this problem or issue is resolved," said state Sen. Will Espero, who has been critical of the chief and backed a number of law enforcement reform bills in the legislative session that just ended.
Espero added that when officers come under investigation they usually have their police duties removed.
"I've had conversations with many ... police officers who say there's a double standard here," he said.
Silvert represents Katherine Kealoha's uncle Gerard Puana, who is a key figure in the investigation against the Kealohas. Puana alleges that he was arrested on bogus charges of stealing the Kealoha's mailbox because he was involved in a heated civil dispute with Katherine Kealoha.
Silvert said many of the witnesses called by the grand jury are police officers, who are fearful of testifying against their boss.
"It's hard for people to come forward," Silvert said. "I know people have been reluctant, officers have been reluctant and other people have been reluctant to step forward with information."