FBI will investigate Waikele beating
At issue is whether the assault was a hate crime violating the victims' civil rights
The FBI is investigating the brutal beating of a military couple following a fender bender at a Waikele Center parking lot last week, U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo said yesterday.
"I have requested and the FBI has opened an investigation into the incident to determine whether any civil-rights laws were violated," he said.
If the FBI determines that the beating victims' civil rights were violated, Kubo said, he will prosecute the case; or the case could go straight to the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. , he said. "Only if the evidence warrants."
A 26-year-old Army soldier suffered a concussion and fractures to his jaw and an eye socket, police said. His 23-year-old wife also suffered a concussion and fractures to her jaw, nose and wrist in the assault. They were taken to the Queen's Medical Center, where they were treated and released.
Police arrested and charged Gerald Paakaula, 44, for second-degree assault. They also arrested Paakaula's 16-year-old son and turned him over to Family Court.
Witnesses said that before the alleged attack, the younger Paakaula called one of the victims a "f--ing haole."
City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle said the assault was not a hate crime under Hawaii law because it did not appear that the victims had been selected because of their race.
"There needs to be a targeting," Carlisle said. "It has to be about selection."
In this case it appears the victims were selected because of the accident, he said.
There is no separate hate crime offense under Hawaii law. However, if a judge determines the assault was a hate crime, he could double the ordinary prison sentence for the crime.
Kubo said that in some states, race does not have to be the sole intent of a perpetrator for his actions to be deemed a hate crime. He said he had not talked to Carlisle about the case.