Grand jury declines charges against HPD sergeant accused of assault
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A grand jury declined to indict a Honolulu Police Sergeant caught on surveillance video punching his girlfriend.
The video, taken on September 8 at a Waipahu Restaurant, shows Sgt. Darren Cachola hitting the woman. She testified on his behalf Wednesday morning saying they were just playing around.
Her attorney, David Hayakawa, says she is a kick boxer and that the two do this often.
Cachola's attorney, Howard Luke said there is much more to the 24 second video than what was released to the media.
"When all the evidence came in, the grand jury and their wisdom realized that the evidence was insufficient to return an indictment against officer Cachola," said Luke.
Police sources who have seen the whole thing say the woman is the aggressor, she hits and slaps the Cachola, even jumps on him. They take off their shoes and square up. Cachola eventually starts hitting back and that's the clip released. After the 24 seconds, the two laugh and walk out of camera view.
HPD Chief Louis Kealoha also mentioned the full video after announcing that Sgt. Cachola was not being arrested.
"I feel like we made a good decision going in from the beginning, knowing the controversy and the issues that would come up and all the backlash from the public and the politicians, but we had to make the right decision not the popular decision," Kealoha said.
Grand jury proceedings are secret but we do know that at least 8 people were present and they heard testimony for several hours from people at the restaurant that night before making the decision.
But after HPD kicked the case to the city prosecutor, why did Keith Kaneshiro, who could have dropped the case himself, bring in the grand jury?
Longtime attorney Victor Bakke says he's never seen a misdemeanor abuse case like Cachola's go before a grand jury.
"This was his way of punting the decision. Instead of saying they're not going to support charges, they simply gave it to a neutral body and said, 'Well if they don't charge then it's their fault,'" Bakke said.
He believes Kaneshiro, who is an elected official, was trying to avoid a political backlash.
"By sending it to the grand jury, he was simply able to wash his hands of it and say, 'Well we tried.' But that really shows no confidence in the chief of police's ability to evaluate a criminal case." He said.
Perhaps surprisingly, there are no hard feelings among victims' advocates.
"I think that is probably our best take away...is that we are now in dialogue with the Honolulu Police Department in a way that we hadn't been before," said Nanci Kreidman, Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic Violence Action Center.
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