HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) -The city has reached a tentative settlement in a domestic violence lawsuit against a Honolulu Police officer, agreeing to pay his estranged wife $320,000.
The suit alleged that officer Darren Cachola choked his wife in 2017 then pushed her against a wall and terrorized two years later after she filed for divorce.
The city is on the hook because the suit alleges that HPD officers did not investigate her injuries and tried to talk her out of filing charges.
“Here’s the sad thing. This money is coming from taxpayers,” said Ken Lawson of the University of Hawaii Law School.
“When the HPD does not enforce its own rules and allows officers ... to come in and cover up for other officers in cases of domestic violence we end up paying for it.”
But Cachola’s attorney said his client did nothing wrong.
“There’s no admission of liability. He’s taken the position from day one that he did not do anything to his wife," said attorney William Harrison.
The HPD has said it now investigates all domestic violence cases involving officers. It also has said that officers are being provided training to avoid stressful confrontations in their households.
Part of the reason the settlement was so large is that there’s a history of domestic violence complaints against Cachola and there’s a history of allegation that officers covered up for him.
Back in 2014, he was caught on surveillance cameras fighting with his then-girlfriend in an empty Waipahu restaurant.
The responding officers did not arrest Cachola and did not file reports. A grand jury also declined to indict. Cachola was later fired but was reinstated.
“When you commit crimes as a police officer, not get prosecuted, get fired and get your job back because of arbitration and not be punished ... what’s the deterrent from continuing to engage in misconduct," said Lawson.
But Harrison said Cachola did nothing wrong then, too.
“You can pretty much indict a ham sandwich before the grand jury, right? And they looked at the videos at the other cases and they found there was not enough,” Harrison said.
“That case was dismissed but it continues to haunt him.”
The settlement still needs to be approved by the City Council before it becomes final.