Officer to get $1M
A 15-year veteran said her life was threatened after reporting a sergeant's alleged misdeeds
LIHUE » The Kauai County Council approved a nearly $1 million payout this week to settle a claim made by a Kauai Police Department officer who reported a sergeant was taking protection money from a drug dealer.
Darla Abbatiello, the 1999 KPD "Police Officer of the Year," alleged in her federal lawsuit that when she executed a drug search warrant in 2003 a female suspect told her she paid KPD Sgt. Irvil Kapua $6,000 to protect her and her boyfriend.
Kapua, who was one of the defendants on the lawsuit, retired last month. The two police chiefs also named in the suit, Wilfred Ihu and K.C. Lum, are also retired.
After Abbatiello reported the suspect's claim to her supervisor, Kapua allegedly screamed and threatened her life, the suit and a restraining order alleged.
Abbatiello, a 15-year KPD veteran, requested a temporary transfer to the patrol division to avoid Kapua. However, she was given a permanent transfer to patrol and her pay grade was cut, the suit contended.
No action was ever taken on the accusations Abbatiello made against Kapua, or his alleged threats at KPD headquarters and elsewhere.
Abbatiello, who remains with KPD, claimed that the demotion and lack of action against Kapua was a violation of the Whistleblower's Protection Act.
The settlement was for $1 million, with about $20,000 removed to pay for mediation.
Attorneys close to the case did not return phone calls seeking comment yesterday.