Friday, October 3, 2003

City rejects offer
in police suit

The City Council calls
Kenneth Kamakana's proposed
settlement "precedent setting"

The City Council has rejected an offer to settle a lawsuit filed by Kenneth Kamakana, a 29-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department who said he was retaliated against after blowing the whistle on alleged improper conduct by fellow officers and superiors.

City & County of Honolulu

"This is a very complicated settlement," said Councilman Romy Cachola, chairman of the Executive Matters Committee, which is made up of all nine Council members and considered the offer yesterday. "It's very innovative but it is a precedent-setting kind of settlement in which the city just didn't want to get into."

Cachola referred questions about details of the proposed settlement to city Corporation Counsel David Arakawa.

"There is some confidentiality and sensitivity in this," Cachola said.

Several calls to Arakawa yesterday were not returned.

Kamakana's attorney, William McCorriston, could not be reached for comment.

Kamakana, who has been involved in narcotics and organized-crime investigations for more than half his career at HPD, sued the city, Police Chief Lee Donohue and Lt. Milton Olmos in November 2000, claiming he was transferred from the Criminal Intelligence Unit because he reported to the FBI misconduct by officers in the unit, his superiors and administrators.

He also alleged that a subsequent investigation by Internal Affairs into his removal of files and materials from the unit were in retaliation for his "whistle blowing."

Donohue and Olmos, who was then acting captain of the unit, contend Kamakana was transferred because he wasn't a "team player."

"Loyalty and teamwork are paramount in CIU, a unit that performs sensitive intelligence operations regarding organized crime," they argued in court documents.

They claim that Kamakana's transfer was not retaliatory because neither Donohue nor Olmos knew he had spoken to federal agents when they made the decision to transfer him. They claim Kamakana was not harmed by the transfer since he maintained the same rank and benefits.

In the suit, Kamakana, currently a supervisor assigned to a state-federal drug task force, had asked to be reinstated to his former position in the Criminal Intelligence Unit. He also sought lost overtime, which he estimated at between $3,200 to $6,000.

According to the suit, among the incidents of misconduct Kamakana reported to the FBI was a July 2000 meeting and taped interview between Olmos and other CIU officers and a person who had been indicted on federal gambling charges. The FBI had notified a detective in CIU before the meeting that such an interview would be illegal since the defendant had legal counsel.

After denying the interview took place and refusing requests by federal prosecutors for a copy of the tape, police eventually turned over a redacted version, minus portions that some CIU officers and Donohue felt would be damaging to them, Kamakana alleged. Kamakana later provided the FBI with what he believed was an unredacted version.

Kamakana later admitted he removed confidential files and materials from CIU before he was transferred, an act of misconduct under department rules. The city claims the internal investigation against Kamakana was a result of his admission.

HPD was dismissed as a defendant in March 2002.


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