Lawsuit: 2 HPU employees falsely told police that colleague planned campus shooting

Lawsuit: 2 HPU professors falsely told police colleague planned campus shooting
Published: Jun. 8, 2016 at 10:21 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 9, 2016 at 2:49 PM HST
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EAST HONOLULU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A former Hawaii Pacific University professor has sued two of his colleagues, claiming they conspired to falsely tell police that he was planning a shooting at the school.

The story is stranger still given that one of the women he's suing is a well-known former Honolulu Police Department detective.

In a lawsuit filed this week, former HPU professor Gordon Knowles says the false allegations against him have affected his career and his reputation.

One of the women he's suing is former police officer Sheryl Sunia, a longtime former HPD detective who helped investigate a number of high-profile workplace shootings, including the Xerox shooting in 1999.

Also named in the suit is Human Resources Acting Vice President Diana Niles-Hansen.

Knowles said Sunia and Niles-Hansen weren't just trying to sully his name. They were trying to get him killed.

In the suit, Knowles alleges that the professors conspired to create a situation where police officers might consider him dangerous and draw their weapons.

"They were trying to orchestrate an event where I would be shot and killed by police by informing police I was carrying a weapon," Knowles said. "(They alleged) I had an arsenal of deadly weapons in my apartment and I was planning an active shooter event."

Knowles, a military police Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, had taught sociology at Hawaii Pacific University for 17 years.

He said he never had a problem until a new administration took over. That's when he says human resources personnel started questioning him about having a second job at University of Hawaii.

Within a few months, he was fired.

But Knowles says that was just the beginning.

Last September, he said, he had a run-in with police outside his home near Fort Street Mall. Knowles said the officer believed he was armed and was planning a shooting at HPU.

"The officer put his hand on his weapon and said you need to sit down immediately," Knowles said. "And I sat down and he goes, 'Where's the weapon?'"

Knowles wasn't carrying any weapons, but was arrested anyway.

Then, the day after his release, a team of officers came to his home in search of weapons. They found his only gun, he said, which was legally registered.

Knowles said he later found out his two former colleagues had filed restraining orders against him. He alleges Sunia also looked up his gun records, which are supposed to be secret.

Myles Breiner, Knowles' attorney, said Sunia used her former position at HPD to "contact someone within the records division, who was ultimately suspended for violating Mr. Knowles' rights to privacy."

In March, HPD sent Knowles a letter apologizing for the records search and admitting there had been a violation of department policy.

Hawaii News Now reached out to Sunia for comment. She said only that "she filed that temporary restraining order for fear of danger to herself and others at the university."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified general and punitive damages.

Former HPU professor files lawsuit

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