Ex-police detective is cleared of alleged misconduct in trial
A former Honolulu police homicide detective has been absolved of allegations that she lied on the witness stand and instructed a fellow detective to backdate a report, her attorney has confirmed.
David Hayakawa, attorney for Detective Sheryl Sunia, said she received a July 24 letter from the Honolulu Police Administrative Review Board saying the charge was "unsubstantiated, which is as good as it gets," he said. "She is very happy that she has been completely vindicated, and now she wants her original job back."
Sunia, the department's first female homicide detective, was stripped of her badge and gun in April 2005 after the police Internal Affairs Division received an anonymous letter containing the allegations during a murder trial in which she was the lead detective. The allegations stemmed from testimony she gave regarding a report submitted by another detective who claimed she asked him to backdate an evidence report.
Her badge and gun were returned to her in December, and she has since been working in the Criminal Investigation Division's Sex Crimes detail handling sex offender registration issues, Hayakawa said.
Early on, the state attorney general declined to prosecute Sunia for any criminal charges.
"Having her name dragged through the mud based on an anonymous letter before she had a chance to respond was a nightmare," Hayakawa said. "We cooperated completely, including successfully passing the polygraph exam. There was absolutely no merit to the accusations contained in the anonymous letter."
A spokesman for Honolulu police declined to comment on the board's decision because it is a personnel matter.
To this day, Sunia has no idea who wrote the letter and has not seen its entire contents, Hayakawa said.
"Sometimes we forget that police officers have rights and deserve due process," he said. "We're just fortunate that finally, after a year, justice has prevailed."
Sunia and two officers filed a federal suit against the department this year alleging harassment and retaliation after complaining about workplace conditions. That suit is pending.