A Kona man who was put under surveillance and harassed after he criticized retired Big Island Police Chief Wayne Carvalho for rigging police promotions is suing Carvalho and the County of Hawaii for defamation and violations of his First Amendment rights.
Man sues Hawaii
County, ex-police chief
By Debra Barayuga
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii filed suit yesterday in U.S. District Court on behalf of Jack Brunton, who criticized Carvalho for his involvement in the department's promotions-cheating scandal and sought his removal.
According to the complaint, Brunton alleged that the surveillance by the department's Criminal Intelligence Unit and statements Carvalho made publicly that he was suspected of illegal activities, including illegal use of the Internet, were intended to intimidate and tarnish his reputation in the community.
Brunton had set up a Web site in June 2000 where he exposed what he felt were improprieties in the department and the Police Commission's failure to investigate Carvalho.
After Brunton reported the surveillance to the Police Commission, Carvalho admitted he initiated it because Brunton had threatened to file a lawsuit. ACLU attorney Ed Kemper called the actions of Carvalho and the department "an egregious abuse of police power" that was further compounded by the county's failure to stop it.
"The collusion on all levels to intimidate and harass a law-abiding citizen exercising his First Amendment rights shows a level of disregard for the Constitution that shocks the conscience," Kemper said.
Brunton, in a written statement, said he was appalled by the department's tactics.
"I have the same First Amendment rights as anyone else to criticize the police and other governmental officials without risking their surveillance and harassment."
Nineteen current and former police officers had sued Carvalho in 1997, accusing him and others of helping certain officers cheat on promotions examinations beginning in the late 1980s, while he was a deputy chief.
In December 1999 a jury found Carvalho guilty of fraud and other wrong acts. Carvalho's appeal is pending. He retired in October 2000.
Gale Ching, Carvalho's attorney in the promotions fraud case, said he had not seen the complaint and declined comment. Carvalho also could not be reached for comment.
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