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Kauai protesters accuse police of misconduct

Updated: 
April 15, 2017 - 8:12am

HONOLULU — Body camera footage of a recent protest that broke out over a sacred Hawaiian burial site and resulted in multiple arrests shows officers acted appropriately, Kauai Police Department Chief Darryl Perry said.

Some of those who attended the April 4 protest to protect the site from desecration in Wainiha accused officers of misconduct and said the arrests were unwarranted. According to police, four men had been blocking the entrance to the private property and were arrested for trespassing.

Perry said he is confident the department’s footage of the incident shows officers handled themselves professionally.

“They (the protesters) were just, in my opinion, harassing and antagonizing the officers. Kind of egging them on to do something. They’re putting the camera in our face, but now they understand that we’re filming them too,” Perry told KHON-TV.

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. suggested during a meeting in Wainiha the day after the protest that there is a way for community members to address the burial site issue without having to face arrest, the Garden Island reported.

“Somebody owns this property, but there’s also cultural significance to this property. How do we work it legally, so I don’t go to jail, you don’t go to jail,” Carvalho said. “We all can work together and set the example for the future.”

Perry said the protest is one of several instances where officers’ body cameras have helped clear them of misconduct allegations. “They understand right now that it not only protects the public and the recording of information, it also protects them against false allegations,” he said.

Kauai’s police force is the state’s only police department to have widely adopted the use of body cameras.

Maui and Big Island police have only tested the devices, while the Honolulu Police Department said it is working to launch its pilot body camera program by the end of the year.

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