Retired cop sues county, chiefs

LIHU‘E — A retired Kaua‘i Police officer has filed a civil complaint in 5th Circuit Court seeking damages for a punitive transfer and a meritless investigation.

Retired Vice Lt. Eric Shibuya filed suit last Thursday through the law firm of Richards & Zenger and named the defendants as the County of Kaua‘i, the police department, Chief Darryl Perry and Assistant Chief Mark Begley in their official and individual capacities.

Shibuya is suing for claims of relief, including civil conspiracy from acts and conduct of his leadership, and is seeking monetary damages at trial. He is also charging defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, intentional interference with contractual relations and invasion of privacy.

Perry said Monday that he is aware of Shibuya’s situation but had not been made aware of the civil complaint.

Beth Tokioka, county director of communications, said that because this is an active legal case, the county and the county attorney cannot comment on the matter.

According to the complaint, Shibuya is a Kaua‘i native who joined the police department in 1987. He served in the narcotics vice section of the Investigative Services Bureau as a patrol sergeant, a Property Crimes detective and a juvenile section detective until he became commander of the vice unit in 2007.

At the time Chief Perry took over in 2007, Shibuya claims to have been following a directive to complete a State of Hawai‘i Organization of Police Officers-approved update of standard operating procedures in the vice unit.

During a meeting regarding the new SOP, Shibuya alleges that Perry and Begley accused him of insubordination, dereliction of duty and transparency regarding SOP. He claims to have presented documentation and testimony that counters the allegations.

Shibuya alleges that retaliation from the department resulted in an internal investigation against him that was aimed at terminating his service. He was involuntarily transferred to the Patrol Services Bureau and had his office computer, records and files seized.

After filing a grievance with SHOPO, Shibuya claims further retaliation occurred in the form of an administrative investigation alleging he violated eight provisions of department standards of conduct. If proven, his job could have been terminated with the possible loss of retirement benefits.

In March 2010, Shibuya was reassigned to his position as commander of the vice unit with the investigation still pending. He said the department refused to produce documents to justify the previous transfer and investigation.

In December 2011, the Administrative Review Board dismissed all charges against Shibuya as meritless. He retired on Feb. 29, and stated that it was early and the result of the problems he experienced.

No hearing has been scheduled as of Thursday.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@ thegardenisland.com.

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