HONOLULU (KHON2) — A deputy sheriff has been charged with assaulting another deputy sheriff at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. A spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety says the injured deputy was taken to the hospital.
The Department of Public Safety says the fight happened on Friday night. Officials say both deputies have been placed on paid leave while the case is under investigation.
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A spokesperson for the department says the injured deputy was taken to the hospital for evaluation and was released on the same day. The case has been turned over to the State Attorney General’s office which is now investigating the case. State lawmakers call the incident disturbing.
“I think everybody expects law enforcement to be held to a higher standard,” said Sen. Chris Lee, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Anytime you have incidents like these, it does raise questions of what happened and what can be done to prevent it in the future?”
State deputy sheriffs are in charge of law enforcement in and around the airport areas. So deputies had to arrest one of their own. Lee says it is especially troubling that the incident happened in such a public place.
“Especially as an entryway to Hawaii, you want to put on a good face,” said Lee. “Incidents like these raise questions about what can be done there, in a place where tensions are already high. Anybody traveling to an airport is stressed. The last thing you need is staff and law enforcement and others who are equally stressed and getting into trouble on their own.”
Sources within the department tell us that the deputy could ultimately be fired even if he isn’t found guilty of assault. It depends on what policies were broken within the department.
“We know that there are processes even for law enforcement officers at the county level to review and go through discipline if warranted or dismissal or whatever it may be,” said Lee. “We don’t have the facts yet but we know that it’s serious and it should be taken seriously.”
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A spokesman for the State Attorney General’s office says the deputy has been released from custody and sent a statement saying, the case “… was referred to our Investigations Division for follow-up and since it is an active investigation we will not be providing additional information at this time.”