A Honolulu police officer is being investigated after video footage from two separate incidents appears to show the officer assaulting his girlfriend.
In the first video to emerge, which was recorded last Monday, off-duty HPD sergeant Darren Cachola repeatedly punches his girlfriend before her co-workers attempt to intervene. The assault took place after closing time in a Waipahu restaurant where she works. The grainy footage is disturbingly similar to surveillance video showing National Football League star Ray Rice punching his girlfriend in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.
Cachola’s girlfriend told Hawaii News Now it was all a misunderstanding, and that the two were “just playing around.”
A second surveillance video, recorded less than an hour before the restaurant incident, has also surfaced and shows the couple fighting in a Waipahu shopping center. The girlfriend appears to jump on Cachola’s back, at which point he backs into a wall and they both tumble to the ground.
The girlfriend appears to be in physical pain, grabbing at the back of her head. Witnesses say the couple was arguing over her cell phone.
The girlfriend told Hawaii News Now that she won't press charges, but HPD has launched a full investigation. Cachola, an 18-year police veteran, has been stripped of his gun and badge and was placed on desk duty.
“The knee-jerk reaction for myself was, this guy needs to be arrested, and needs to be brought to justice as a police officer," HPD Chief Louis Kealoha told KITV. "But when you step back and compose yourself, then you think … We need to know exactly what happened.”
The sergeant's recent domestic dispute puts the integrity of the Honolulu Police Department into question and draws attention to prior transgressions. Since 2000, according to Honolulu Civil Beat, 23 Honolulu police officers have been suspended for domestic violence incidents; an additional three were fired, but were later reinstated or allowed to resign.
The HPD is also under scrutiny after three separate incidents in the past month involved Honolulu Police officers accidentally firing their guns.