HONOLULU (KHON2) — Monday afternoon, Jan. 30, a jury ruled that former State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers [SHOPO] President Tenari Maafala was not defamed by the former police chief with comments she made about him in an interview.
Maafala sat silently in circuit court as the clerk read the jury’s verdict in his defamation lawsuit against former Police Chief Susan Ballard.
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“The first question: did the plaintiff prove that one or more of the statements made by Miss Ballard about plaintiff on Dec. 22, 2017 to the Civil Beat Reporter were false? Answer, no,” said the court clerk.
The decision, not what Maafala and his family were hoping to hear after five long years dealing with the backlash of the statements he claims slandered his name.
“I believe we proved above and beyond a preponderance of evidence and even clear and convincing,” Maafala said. “I would even go as far as beyond a shadow of a doubt, that in fact what she did, was what she did. You know, you cannot refute what the media, especially when you record it verbatim.”
The lawsuit filed by Maafala stated that in December 2017 , then HPD Chief Ballard said Maafala, and the Peer Support Unit [PSU] he lead for over a decade, had quote: “issues with overtime” and did not “follow along with the spirit of the unit’s mission” and that the PSU had “lost its way” under Maafala’s leadership.
Maafala claimed in the court documents he suffered “damages” and “mental and emotional distress” due to the comments made by Ballard.
Ballard claimed she had been taken out of context.
The lawsuit claimed Ballard’s statements injured Maafala’s reputation in the public’s eye.
“I believe we put on a great case, that anyone would really see the truth of the matter,” Maafala said.
“I may not agree with the jury’s verdict, but my family and I will do the best we can in the days ahead as we continue to heal,” they explained.
“This was as process,” said Lyle Hosoda, Maafala’s attorney. “And, I think that it helped in terms of healing and closure. So, we thank everyone in the community for this time.”
Hosoda said HPD needs more men like Maafala and that it’s been a privilege fighting to defend his name.
In a statement SHOPO said:
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“This was Mr. Maafala’s personal litigation of which SHOPO was not a party. As such, SHOPO has no opinion on the case.”
Ballard’s attorneys declined to comment.