No racial motive for assault at Waikele, both sides say
Gerald Paakaula is indicted in the Waikele assault
An Oahu grand jury has indicted a Waianae man accused of beating an Army soldier and his wife at the Waikele Center over a traffic incident.
Gerald D. Paakaula, 44, was indicted on two counts of second-degree assault against Andrew and Dawn Dussell in the Feb. 19 altercation, which flared after the couple's car struck the Paakaulas' sport utility vehicle while parking. Paakaula is also charged with being an accomplice to second-degree assault.
The defense maintains that although Paakaula's son made some racial remarks, the incident was not racially motivated and that Dawn Dussell started the physical confrontation.
The attorney for a Waianae man charged in the vicious assault on a military couple at the Waikele Center maintains the incident had nothing to do with the couple being Caucasian.
To suggest the attack was racially motivated is not what occurred that day, said attorney Todd Eddins, who represents Gerald Paakaula.
"It's reprehensible that this has been portrayed as a 'local versus haole,'" he said.
An Oahu grand jury indicted Paakaula, 44, yesterday with two counts of second-degree assault on Andrew and Dawn Dussell and being an accomplice to second-degree assault, all Class C felonies punishable by five-year prison terms.
The Feb. 19 altercation flared after the SUV that Andrew Dussell was driving struck the Paakaulas' parked car.
Eddins said the Paakaulas regret the incident and are grateful that the Dussells are OK.
While Paakaula's 16-year-old son uttered a phrase referring to the couple's race before the physical altercation, it was a generic reference to their behavior and not to their race, he said.
The teenager, who is being adjudicated in Family Court for his role in the attack, regrets what he said and is basically a good kid, Eddins said, adding that the Paakaulas are a hard-working, churchgoing family.
The Dussells never viewed the incident as being racial in nature, said deputy prosecutor Franklin Pacarro. But they remain fearful and do not understand why the incident happened. Andrew Dussell does not remember anything except waking up at the Queen's Medical Center, Pacarro said.
According to witnesses, Paakaula punched Dawn Dussell in the face and slammed her to the ground, causing her to lose consciousness.
Paakaula then struck Dussell's husband in the face and head, causing him to fall to the ground and also lose consciousness.
As Dussell lay on the ground, Paakaula's son and Paakaula allegedly took a turn kicking him, causing one of Dussell's teeth to fly out. Witnesses said Dussell began to convulse and stiffen as he lay on the ground.
Paakaula allegedly made threatening remarks to bystanders who stuck around and gave statements to police, Pacarro said.
From the outset, prosecutors said that although there were racial remarks directed at the couple by Paakaula's son, the assault was not a hate crime and the resulting charges were based on the facts of the case. The fender-bender is what precipitated the violence, prosecutors said.
Eddins contends Dawn Dussell provoked the physical confrontation by striking Paakaula's son.
Gerald Paakaula, who was returning with ice cream cones for his family, saw his wife struggling with Dawn Dussell and jumped in, believing his family was under siege, Eddins said.
The public's reaction has "devastated" the Paakaulas, who have received death threats, phone calls where a shotgun clicking can be heard, and have had two attempted break-ins, Eddins said. They filed reports with police, who could not immediately confirm them.