LIHUE — Former Kauai Police Department Chief Darryl Perry is suing the county.
Perry retired last year after a over a decade as chief of KPD. Now, a year later, he is suing for wrongful termination, defamation and several other claims related to an investigation into his conduct that his lawsuit says was inappropriate and intentionally designed to harass.
According to the lawsuit, filed Aug. 9 in Fifth Circuit Court, Perry was hired in 2007 “as a ‘change agent,’ and faced leading a department that was ‘factionalized’ and divided.”
What eventually turned into a protracted and very public dispute between Perry and former Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho began during a July 2010 meeting, “during which Mayor Carvalho was hostile, angry,” and “yelled out offensive curse words” at Perry.
“Carvalho’s face was flushed red and tense; he paced back and forth and stepped toward (Perry), pointing his finger with his voice raised and yelling and used the ‘f-word’ on more than two occasions,” the lawsuit says. “Saliva was coming out of his mouth and (it) looked like he was going to explode.”
In the suit, Perry says the meeting was the beginning of “conspiratorial and continued efforts” to terminate his employment and “ruin his reputation and standing in Kauai County and among the professional law enforcement community.”
Over the course of the next 18 months, a series of increasingly complicated, interconnected disputes arose within the KPD and the offices of the mayor and county attorney. Multiple complaints of harassment were filed by a female officer against high-ranking KPD officers, including Perry.
The two assistant chiefs accused in the complaints were placed on paid leave and the Police Commission chair gave Perry permission to work from home until an investigation into the matter was completed. According to the lawsuit, Carvalho ordered Perry to come into his office the following day, where his managing director reprimanded the police chief for failing to show up to work.
After he showed up to his office the following day, Perry was again summoned by the mayor, who notified him that he was being suspended for deriliction of duty and insubordination. Carvalho ordered that Perry’s police powers be revoked and that he be placed on leave until a new investigation into his alleged insubordination could be conducted.
The Police Commission then ordered Perry to return to work, but the county attorney and managing director ordered the acting police chief not to allow Perry to get his police equipment or access his office. About a month later, Perry was reinstated, based on a decision Carvalho said was based on discussions with his administration, legal teams and the Police Commission.
Perry’s lawsuit is the most recent of multiple legal actions spawned by the series of interconnected disputes that arose during this time frame within the KPD. Assistant Chief Mark Begley was reinstated in June, after more than seven years of paid leave.
In 2012, Begley filed a stress-based workers compensation claim, accusing Perry, his successor, former acting KPD Chief Michael Contrades and other senior officers of creating a hostile work environment. His lawsuit is still pending appeal in federal court.
The female officer who filed complaints against Perry and two of his assistant chiefs settled a case in 2015, when the county paid her $100,000 to drop a sexual harassment case. She was paid nearly $1 million in 2006 by the county to settle another harassment lawsuit.
Perry is suing for six different counts. The lawsuit alleges wrongful termination because Perry was forced to resign due to “continuing harassment, abuse” and discipline “throughout the entire course of his career.” He is also suing the county for interfering with his contractual relations and prospective business advantages, defamation, and publishing information that portrayed him in a false light.
Besides Carvalho, a number of other prominent former and current county officials are also named in the lawsuit. Here are some of them: former County Attorney Alfred Castillo, former Managing Directors Gary Heu and Nadine Nakamura — now a member of the state House of Representatives — former Deputy County Attorney and current Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar.
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.