An off-duty police officer has been stripped of his duties and relegated to a desk after being caught on a restaurant surveillance camera repeatedly punching a woman said to be his ex-girlfriend.
But while the Honolulu Police Department has launched a full investigation, the victim told KHON-TV it was all a big misunderstanding.
Indeed, she told the station, she and the sergeant were just playing around, practicing kickboxing — and that she took swings at the 18-year police veteran as well in the Waipahu establishment.
A friend of the victim told KHON that the victim is the sergeant's ex-girlfriend and said police who responded to the incident couldn't do anything about what was happening.
“As they approached, [they said] ‘What’s up, sarge?’ So why would you want to make a report at this point? He’s there, amongst friends. Who is going to make a report?” the witness told the station.
Honolulu police also said they will look into whether proper procedures were followed, including by the officers who responded to the scene, KHON reported.
Police received the video Tuesday and confirmed the man shown was a member of the force, the station reported. While his gun and badge were taken, the sergeant hasn't been arrested, police Chief Louis Kealoha told KHON.
"We’re still collecting the evidence," the chief told the station. "We’re still interviewing witnesses. We just completed interviewing the victim so there’s a lot of things that we have to shore up.”
“It’s not true that every domestic violence case that we go to results in an arrest,” Kealoha said.
For that to occur, the victim must have visible injuries or the victim must make a complaint, KHON reported — but authorities have neither in this case.
“Looking at that video, the knee-jerk reaction from myself is that this guy needs to be arrested. He needs to be brought to justice as a police officer,” Kealoha told KHON. “But when you step back and you compose yourself and you think about what needs to be done, you have to look at certain things such as the law, that the evidence needs to be collected. We need to know exactly what happened.”
Kealoha said the police department is against all forms of domestic violence: “Any officer who is convicted of assaulting a family or household member will be disciplined and subject to termination."
Keahola told KHON he was "disappointed" when he found out the man in the video was on the Honolulu police force. "Even if it wasn’t a police officer, I was still disappointed because to see that kind of violence is unacceptable, whether you’re a citizen, especially if you’re a police officer, because we should know better," he said.
The witness KHON interviewed echoed the chief's sentiments: “He took an oath to protect and serve his community with honesty and integrity as a police officer. Nothing in this video shows honesty, integrity or protection."