Cop won't be charged in videotaped beating of girlfriend, who says they were 'playing around'

A Honolulu police officer with a history of domestic violence won’t be charged in a videotaped apparent assault on his girlfriend.

Sgt. Darren Cachola is shown on the video repeatedly punching the woman Monday night at the restaurant where she works as a manager.

Surveillance video from Kuni's Japanese Restaurant appears to show the woman throwing a punch at Cachola, an 18-year department veteran who was recently promoted to sergeant.

Cachola strikes her again and again, and the woman’s co-workers rush to her aid after she falls to the ground.

The girlfriend told police and reporters the incident was just a “misunderstanding.”

"I understand how it looks,” the woman said. “We train all the time together. We do kickboxing together, and we were playing around.”

She told officers who were called to the restaurant that she did not want to file a complaint.

“I hit him first and we were just playing,” she said. “There was no danger, no injuries, no problem.”

The woman said she spent the night at Cachola’s house following the incident.

Cachola’s police powers have been temporarily suspended during the investigation, which was launched Tuesday after a citizen turned over the video to police.

The officer has not been charged in the incident.

“The knee-jerk reaction for myself was, this guy needs to be arrested, and needs to be brought to justice as a police officer,” said Honolulu police Chief Louis Kealoha. “But when you step back and compose yourself, then you think what needs to be done.”

An internal affairs investigation will focus on Cachola’s actions and determine whether responding officers acted appropriately when they declined to arrest the sergeant or initiate an assault investigation -- which police said they should have done if they had probable cause such as injuries or video evidence.

"For this type of action, a serious conduct violation, discipline can be up to and including termination," said Assistant Chief Susan Dowsett.

Cachola remains under a routine six-month probationary status after his promotion in July.

The officer’s ex-wife, who is the mother of his three children, filed two petitions for temporary restraining orders against Cachola in 2002 and 2009.

She claimed in court filings that Cachola had threatened to kill her if she called the police on him.

Both petitions were dismissed at hearings – the first for lack of evidence and the second by mutual consent.

Cachola and his ex-wife each admitted to putting false information in opposing petitions for temporary restraining orders.

He filed for divorce in 2009, and his ex-wife was awarded custody to all three children.

Watch this video report posted online by KGMB-TV:

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