Saturday, January 10, 2009

KPD Blue- Chapter 23: KPD Time Bombs



KPD Blue

By Anthony Sommer

Chapter 23: KPD Time Bombs

While Baptiste played king and Rapozo pretended he was Joe McCarthy, new lawsuits were stacking up against the Kauai Police Department alleging incompetent and unethical cop conduct.

Both Baptiste and Rapozo were posing as KPD “reformers” but the fact was that when the local officers on KPD were burned, neither made any speeches about the lack of discipline or professionalism on the department.

Their “reforms” were limited to getting K.C. Lum out of office.

(The author had retired and moved from Kauai before these events took place. The information on these cases came from published news reports.)

In January 2006, an elderly couple filed a lawsuit against two KPD officers and Kauai County for allegedly throwing them to the floor and pointing guns at their heads in a marijuana raid on March 15, 2005.

Problem was, officers Scott Kaui and Damien Mendiola had the wrong house.

They then raided a second house, which also turned out to be the wrong house. The occupants of that house filed a claim for damages with Kauai County.

At the third house, they finally got the right place and arrested three men.

William and Sharon McCulley of Omao claimed in their lawsuit that Kaui and Mendiola watched a man in a Toyota truck pick up a box believed to contain marijuana from the post office and drive to a private road that has access to seven different houses.

The KPD officers didn’t actually see the box being delivered, so they guessed the box was delivered to the house where the McCulleys were babysitting their grandchildren.

They guessed wrong.

Sharon McCulley claimed the officers burst into the house and Mendiola threw her to the ground, handcuffed her and pressed his gun to her head.

William McCulley, who walks with the aid of a walker, was thrown to the floor by Kaui. That set off an implanted device that is supposed to alleviate his back pain by sending an electric shock to his spine. The device went off repeatedly sending McCulley into uncontrollable spasms.

The two KPD officers then tried the second of the seven houses on the road and guessed wrong again.

The third time was the charm. They found the box and arrested David Hibbit who later pleaded guilty to first-degree promotion of marijuana, according to press accounts.

In November 2006, the Kauai County attorney asked the County Council for yet another $200,000 to hire outside lawyers to defend the county and the KPD in two separate cases.

The Council took up the request in executive session because the lawsuit involved a county employee and the matter thus qualified as a personnel matter, under the county attorney’s logic.

The lawsuit stems from one of two similar cases in which the KPD allegedly planted drugs and drug paraphernalia on innocent people.

Prosecutors dropped the criminal charges in both cases after acknowledging KPD Sgt. Danilo Abadilla planted crystal methamphetamines in a car and two separate homes.

According to The Garden Island, the local newspaper on Kauai, Abadilla had been demoted but was still working as a patrolman on Kauai in 2006. The drug planting incidents took place in 2004 and 2005.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in June 2006 by Dominador Lopez, Anastacia Lopez, and the estates of Jovencio Lopez and Analyn Manzano.

The lawsuit claims KPD searched the home of Rizal Balgos in July 2003 and seized crystal methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia.

Balgos then agreed to become a confidential informant for the KPD and worked for Abadilla, a member of the vice squad.

According to the press account of the lawsuit, in April, 2004, Abadilla ordered Balgos to plant drugs in Michael Olivas’ car and then executed a search warrant for Olivas’ vehicle and home.

Olivas was charged with second-degree promotion of a dangerous drug and possession and use of drug paraphernalia.

The case was continued at the request of prosecutors until November 2004 when county prosecutors offered Olivas a plea bargain in which he would admit guilt to a reduced charge of third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug.

Olivas rejected the deal and requested a preliminary hearing but the court session never took place. Instead, prosecutors suddenly dropped all the charges against him.

The second instance of Abadilla allegedly planting drugs and then exercising a search warrant to seize them came in June 2004, according to the press account of the lawsuit.

Again, Abadilla allegedly used Balgos to plant drugs and paraphernalia in a vehicle and the home of Dominadar Lopez and then signaled KPD officers to execute the search warrant they already had obtained.

The lawsuit claims KPD officers went into the home with guns drawn and seized the drugs that allegedly were planted.

As in the Olivas case, Lopez was offered a plea bargain in which he would admit to third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug but Lopez, like Olivas, demanded a trial.

A week before the trial, the charges suddenly were dropped. According to the lawsuit, a prosecutor told the Lopez family the drugs had been planted by Balgos.

The lawsuit contends the KPD knew of this and other cases where officers had illegally planted drugs but failed to discipline the officers involved.

Balgos, meanwhile, disappeared. Sources said he was a major drug dealer himself and had fled to the Philippines.

Once again, the Lap Dancing Incident was connected.

Abadilla was a defense witness for Randy Machado in his 1996 trial.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Of the lawsuits talked about in this chapter (the first one in particular - the wrong house episode) one that I know of has finally been settled. The plaintiff used all his resources to make good his claim, and as a result of the county's deep expense pockets ($200,000???), and over 4 years of messing around, finally got a settlement - Attorneys got nearly half and the plaintiff is still bummed. Justice served?