Ex-HPD chief admits she had no evidence of overtime abuse against union leader

Maafala sued for defamation, and critics say this is a blow to Ballard's integrity.
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 6:42 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2021 at 12:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, who is being sued for defamation, admitted she had no evidence of overtime abuses and mismanagement when she demoted former SHOPO President Tenari Maafala in 2017.

In a videotaped deposition last month, Ballard said she conducted no investigations into overtime claimed by any of the officers assigned to the HPD’s Peer Support Unit, which had been headed by Maafala since 2007.

Lyle Hosoda, attorney for Maafala, said in the taped deposition:

”Chief, isn’t it true that you had no information at all that Sgt. Maafala abused overtime prior to you taking over as Chief on Nov. 1st, 2017?”

Ballard: ”No, I did not have any evidence.”

In another exchange in her videotaped deposition, Ballard said she had no evidence of mismanagement.

Hosoda: “Isn’t it also true that you did not have any evidence in writing of any type of mismanagement by Sgt. Maafala of the PSU prior to the time that you took over as chief on Nov. 1, 2017?”

Ballard: “Yes.”

The admissions are a big victory for Maafala who sued Ballard and the HPD for defamation after he was transferred from the PSU unit to the midnight patrol watch in Waikiki.

Ballard told Civil Beat in a Dec. 22, 2017, story that she transferred Maafala because there were “overtime issues” with his unit, suggesting that Maafala was ripping off taxpayers. She also said the PSU unit wasn’t being run the way it was supposed to.

Ken Lawson of the University of Hawaii Law School said Ballard’s admissions are troubling given that her predecessor former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha was convicted of corruption and lying.

“In this case, what we actually did overnight is replace one liar with another,” said Lawson.

“When you are accusing one of your own with absolutely no basis in truth and the fact and you want to go publicly and spread these lies just to get rid of that guy -- that’s dangerous stuff.”

Ballard and the HPD declined comment, citing the pending litigation.

Ballard’s admission that she made false statements could be used against her when she’s called on to testify in future cases.

“Certainly at this point, Chief Ballard’s credibility is going to be undermined whenever she testifies in the future,” said attorney Eric Seitz.

“Mr. Maafala and I have never been on the same side of anything but he doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.”

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