Day in court coming for KPD squabble?

A June hearing date has been set for a court order involving alleged acts of harassment made by a Kaua‘i Police Department officer against another officer.

Darla Abbatiello filed a petition for a protection order in Fifth District Court in September 2004. She claimed that she was harassed by co-worker Irvil Kapua, got a death threat, and that her personal firearm went missing from her locked office in KPD’s vice unit.

According to court records, the hearing on the protection order was rescheduled five times, with the last one to be held last June.

Court records show that Kapua’s attorney, William Harrison, asked that the hearing be rescheduled a year later, on June 8 of this year. He wrote that he expected a federal court order would be issued to stop the evidence-gathering process in Abbatiello’s lawsuit against the county.

No such order has been issued.

Harrison did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Margery Bronster and Daniel Hempey, Abbatiello’s attorneys, also did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Both Abbatiello and Kapua are still on the job.

Abbatiello claimed in the petition that the harassment and threats were made after she reported allegations to her superiors that Kapua had been paid money to protect a suspected drug dealer.

According to the petition, Abbatiello arrested a suspected ice dealer in December 2003. The suspect told her and another ofOBITUARIESficer that protection money had been paid to Kapua.

Abbatiello claimed that she told her superiors what the suspected dealer said to her.

In January 2004, according to the petition, Abbatiello claimed that Kapua swore and yelled at her, “You better get your facts straight before you investigate me. I’ve already taken down two cops.” Abbatiello alleged that two other incidents took place the same month. She was told one day by two supervisors that Kapua would not accept an internal-investigation notice. On another day, while having lunch in a crowded restaurant, Kapua walked in and swore at her.

Abbatiello claimed in the petition that Kapua stared her down on “numerous occasions” over the next several months.

Abbatiello alleged that she got what she viewed as a death threat. She was told to look in her office dictionary, and found her name written in red ink with a red arrow pointing from the word “death.” Abbatiello claimed that the death threat had not been made before her problems with Kapua started.

The petition shows that she was told by an assistant chief to find another route to get in and out of KPD headquarters, that would not take her past Kapua’s office. Kapua started punching the walls in his office after he had seen her walk by one day. The assistant chief told her that she had “messed up” Kapua by making him see her.

According to the petition, Abbatiello filed a claim with the county because she found out that her personal firearm was missing from her locked office.

According to court records, Kapua may use his KPD-issued firearms and ammunition while on the job. When he is not on duty, the firearms and ammunition will be locked up.

Abbatiello filed a federal lawsuit against the county on Sept. 14, 2004, the same day that she filed the petition for a protection order.

In the lawsuit, she claimed mental and emotional distress, that KPD was an unsafe workplace for her, and that she was demoted when she transferred out of vice to the Waimea substation.

Abbatiello also claimed that she was retaliated against under the state’s Whistleblower’s Protection Act for reporting the suspected drug dealer’s allegations about Kapua to her superiors.

Several KPD officers were named as defendants in the suit, including Chief K.C. Lum, former interim chief Wilfred M. Ihu, Assistant Chief Gordon Isoda, retired Lt. Dean Pigao, and Kapua.

The case is scheduled for trial in October.

County Attorney Lani Nakazawa has requested from members of the County Council $100,000 in county funds to be used to retain outside counsel to defend the county in the federal lawsuit.

Councilmembers have not yet made a decision on that request.

That matter could be on the council agenda on Jan. 26.

In court action related to that federal case, a Jan. 27 hearing is set to hear arguments about whether or not former KPD Chief George Freitas could also be named as a defendant.

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