Breaking News

Breaking News


KPD investigated officers in alleged cheating scandal

LIHUE — The Kauai Police Department conducted an investigation into allegations that a number of its officers were involved in cheating on a proficiency test and later covering it up.

The investigation was not completed for at least two months, and afterward, police refused to turn over the results to prosecutors until compelled to do so by a court order. Still, the hundreds of pages of documents related to the investigation remain sealed, and county officials will not comment on the matter.

In the last week, Fifth Circuit Judges Randal Valenciano and Kathleen Watanabe ruled that at least some of the documents detailing KPD’s internal investigation will be admissible as evidence in two separate, unrelated cases.

Whether the information will be publicly available anytime soon, however, remains an open question. Watanabe and Valenciano reviewed the KPD report submitted by prosecutors before ordering the documents to be sealed and instructing attorneys on both sides not to share them with any third party.

The court battle over information related to the internal police investigation began in December of last year, when the county Office of the Prosecuting Attorney sent a letter to a lawyer defending Cody Safadago, a Kauai man facing negligent manslaughter charges.

The letter stated that KPD had launched an investigation concerning officers involved in handling Safadago’s case but did not provide any details regarding the nature of the allegations, stating only that the investigation “concerns matters that may affect the credibility” of the following four KPD officers: Shawn Hanna, Jason Overmyer, Joseph Himongala and Arthur Caberto.

In February, prosecutors sent an almost identical letter to a defense attorney in a separate case, naming a another officer, Lt. Jon Takamura, and a third letter, sent last month, added a sixth name to the list of KPD officers involved, Isaiah Sarsona.

The third letter, dated May 2, was addressed to Honolulu attorney Michael Green, who represents Virgil Caday, a Kauai man facing charges related to a hit-and-run incident last year. That letter gave a brief description of the KPD investigation, saying the allegations involved whether Hanna gave Himongala a copy of a test before he took it and whether the other four officers “knew and covered it up.”

In a memo asking the court to compel prosecutors to release internal KPD documents, Green said the investigation involved “officers who were the subject of what appears to be crimes relating to their employment.”

According to Green’s memo, the information contained in the KPD’s report “may potentially affect whether the state will proceed to trial,” because the officers involved “are all potential witnesses in the Caday indictment, and their credibility is of paramount importance in resolving the case.”

In an interview last week Green said that if KPD officers were in fact caught cheating on the test, it could have wider implications as well, possibly undermining police investigations in other cases if their ethics are called into question.

The court battle over the KPD records has gone on now for over six months. Shortly after receiving the first letter in December, Safadago’s lawyer, Emmanuel Guerrero, filed a motion in court, asking Valenciano to force prosecutors to turn over documents related to the internal investigation.

For months, police ignored prosecutors’ requests. The letter sent by the prosecuting attorney’s office in December said it had asked police for the documents, but added, “to date, we have not received any.” Over two months later, prosecutors claimed police still refused to comply.

Prosecutors made some progress a short time later, after a judge ordered the release of certain records pertaining to the investigation, but the May 2 letter says despite requests for all police files on the matter, “KPD did not supply any such records.”

Court records give few clues about how the investigation was conducted or what it revealed. According to the minutes of a court hearing in February, Deputy County Prosecutor Peter Morimoto said a report of the investigation had been completed and was pending a determination to be made by the police chief at an administrative hearing to be held two weeks later.

The police department has declined to offer any information regarding the matter and was hesitant at first to even admit it existed. After repeated requests for a response to the allegations, a county spokesperson sent an email confirming an internal KPD investigation had been conducted, saying, “due to an ongoing personnel matter involved, we are unable to provide further details at this time.”

Unless the investigation documents are presented as evidence at trial, police may never have to disclose whether their officers were involved in a cheating scandal. Both cases are scheduled to go to trial in September.

•••

Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

10 Comments
  1. Knowitall June 27, 2019 12:57 am Reply

    Integrity is paramount in Law enforcement. . . If these gentlemen were cheating on exams then they must get fired. You cannot testify in court if you are a known liar and cheat. Fuethmore the Officer that was given the test received and promotion and a pay raise he shouldn’t have got. He should be prosecuted for theft


  2. Dirty Pig June 27, 2019 5:04 am Reply

    Dirty pigs will always play in the mud and get filthy.


  3. jake June 27, 2019 6:17 am Reply

    If we’re handing diplomas to students with almost zero reading comprehension, then why are we surprised to find out that semi-literate police officers are cheating on tests? There’s no way that half of Kauai’s drivers could be licensed. You need to be able to read to take the exam to get a license. I have three local neighbors, all “high school graduates” who can understand the directions on the side of a paint can. How did they get driver’s licenses? Who do they know at the DMV? Who are they related to? Who is illegally handing out licenses?


  4. ruthann jones June 27, 2019 6:43 am Reply

    No surprise here…I have experienced a couple of these thugs first hand.


  5. Steve June 27, 2019 8:05 am Reply

    This looks like a leadership test for Chief Todd Rayblock. He is following a long tradition of covering up police misconduct. He is not willing to deal with systemic police corruption.


  6. LMat June 27, 2019 8:15 am Reply

    KPD is a complete JOKE.
    Idiots too stupid to pass a test by themselves out running people over in the streets and getting away with it. Getting away with lying, cheating, stealing, MURDER.
    I grew up with Officer Manuel coming to my school as the DARE officer and I remember being so in awe of him. Now, I teach my kids to NEVER trust a cop.


  7. harryoyama June 27, 2019 1:38 pm Reply

    All these comments are valid and I’ll to add that cops should be random tested for drugs and have bi-annual psychological evaluation to prevent psychotic behavior of rogue cops who beat and shoot innocent victims by an outside facility not connected to law enforcement.

    Too many times you hear a cop’s excuse that “I felt threaten by the victim” and shoot him/her?


  8. CommonSenseish June 27, 2019 2:39 pm Reply

    I have to agree with KPD being a joke. We don’t have to like them, we can talk crap about their incompetence all we want. Our kids hear it… we all know. BUT we must teach our kids to show a general respect to them, as with anyone. It would be unfortunate if your child got pulled over for something small, and then got arrested for being disrespectful and unruly.


    1. LMat June 28, 2019 9:10 am Reply

      Since when is being disrespectful against the law? Although I guess nowadays it is grounds for getting a beatdown or even shot.
      I gotta teach my 6 year old that playing with toy guns outside can get you killed. He likes playing ninja or play-fighting, like all little boys, but I tell him cops shoot little boys with sticks that look like knives…
      My high school-aged son knows enough to “comply or die”, but never trust.
      That’s what we gotta teach our kids nowadays…


  9. WestKauai June 27, 2019 4:16 pm Reply

    While I’m not surprised at the cheating or the coverup, I’m appalled that the KPD could get away with holding back the investigation documents from the officers of the court. I suppose they feel they (KPD) are above the law.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.