Friday, October 25, 2002

Hawaii County

Family sues in
slaying by cop

The suit says Hawaii County
did nothing to stop Albert Pacheco

By Leila Fujimori

The children of former police Detective Albert Pacheco, who was charged in the shooting death of their mother in January, have sued him and Hawaii County.

Albert Pacheco's stepdaughter Shannon Caceres, 24, filed suit on behalf of herself and her minor siblings, Rebecca Pacheco, 17; Caleb Pacheco, 7; and Josiah, 5. Pacheco's daughter Naomi Pacheco, 18, is also a plaintiff.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in 3rd Circuit Court in Hilo, contends that despite knowledge of Albert Pacheco's mental state and behavior toward his wife, Cathalene Pacheco, 42, the Hawaii County Police Department took no action.

The former Hawaii County police officer, 45, confessed to running his wife off the road on Jan. 4 near their Waikoloa home and then shooting her, fellow police officers said. The 42-year-old woman died from multiple gunshot wounds to the neck and head.

Caceres, who appeared yesterday at press conferences in Honolulu and in Hilo, issued a written statement that said: "We no longer have a mother, and we no longer have our best friend.

"I believe that Albert Pacheco and the County of Hawaii need to be accountable for the loss of our mother. I strongly believe that police officers must seriously address the code of silence that undermines efforts to hold police accountable for abuse."

Caceres, the eldest of Cathalene Pacheco's children, has cared for her siblings, the biological children of Albert and Cathalene Pacheco, since their mother's death.

The suit alleges that in 1999, Albert Pacheco started following his wife, a Realtor, during the day in his police vehicle. It further alleges that the Police Department knew he had anger management problems.

"Allegations are easy to make," said Lincoln Ashida, attorney for the county's Department of Corporation Counsel. Ashida added that the department has always taken care of issues regarding their personnel in a prompt, efficient and legal manner.

At least two officers, including Pacheco's supervisor, were aware of stress in Pacheco's marriage and his "erratic behavior in regard to his wife," according to the lawsuit.

Cathalene Pacheco told friends in February 2001 that she wanted to obtain a temporary restraining order against Albert, but was afraid because police officers all knew him, the suit said.

The suit also alleges that while Albert was in Honolulu between Christmas 2001 and Jan. 2, he called a police officer to follow Cathalene.

In the meantime she moved out of their home to a female friend's house down the street.

The suit alleges the county's failure to exercise care in hiring Pacheco, who had transferred from the Honolulu Police Department in the early 1990s.

"Bottom line, Albert Pacheco should not have been allowed, let alone required, to carry a weapon, and his employer, the Hawaii County Police Department, should have recognized this," said Dennis Krueger, the children's lawyer.

"Five young children would still have their mother today," he said, had the department addressed issues of domestic violence and emotional instability.

Pacheco is being held at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo. His trial is tentatively set for Nov. 4.

County of Hawaii

E-mail to City Desk


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