HPD discipline report reveals cellblock beating in which officers were fired, suspended

The Honolulu Police Department reprimanded, suspended, or fired 22 officers for 14 incidents last year, according to the agency.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 6:02 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2023 at 4:05 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Department reprimanded, suspended, or fired 22 officers for 14 incidents last year, according to the agency’s annual officer discipline report to the Legislature.

In one disturbing case, multiple officers were allegedly involved with, or allowed, a beating in a police cellblock.

The mandatory report released Tuesday comes amid national attention on police conduct following Tyre Nichols’s killing in Memphis.

Four of the total number of officers listed in the report were discharged.

The cellblock incident stands out because it involved at least eight officers in an “unreasonable use of force” case.

From the report’s descriptions, it’s unclear exactly where or when this incident happened.

The report also describes an officer’s efforts to remove a detainee’s clothing with multiple officers present.

Two officers, Thomas-John Kaanana and Judah Kekua, were discharged for alleged excessive force, injuring the detainee, and falsifying reports. Six other officers received 10- or 20-day suspensions for failing to intervene.

Seven of the officers are fighting the discipline; only one of the suspensions has been upheld so far.

Criminal justice advocate and University of Hawaii law instructor Ken Lawson said the involvement of so many officers should be a red flag for the chief.

“And the question becomes what training is being implemented to make sure officers know you need to pull your fellow officer back,” said Lawson.

“By allowing that to continue not only puts (the officer) in danger of losing his job, and someone being actually hurt — you losing your job, also.”

The report also includes a 2020 incident reported on Hawaii News Now, in which officer Corey Morgan was fired for roughing up a burglary suspect. His partner, Officer Matthew Ogoshi, was fired for allegedly covering up the incident. They, too, are fighting their terminations.

Overtime abuse during quarantine enforcement led to a five-day suspension of supervising officer Lt. Lance Yashiro, who allegedly let officers work extended hours while not ensuring they were doing their jobs.

Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan was not available to discuss Tuesday’s report.

Hawaii News Now asked the department for more details about the cellblock incident.

Logan is expected to discuss his department’s response to the killing in Memphis during a police commission meeting Wednesday afternoon.