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Hawaii off-duty cop accused of punching ex-girlfriend

Honolulu Police Sgt. Darren Cachola

CBS affiliate KGMB

HONOLULU - The Honolulu Police Department is promising a full investigation of a sergeant allegedly caught on restaurant surveillance video physically attacking his ex-girlfriend. CBS affiliate KGMB reports the sergeant has been accused of domestic violence in the past.

The video showed off-duty HPD Sgt. Darren Cachola, an 18-year veteran of the force, apparently assaulting the woman, identified only as Deberah, around 10:20 p.m. Monday. According to the station, the girlfriend told investigators the whole thing was just a "misunderstanding" and that she and the officer were "just playing around."

The station reports Deberah is a manager at Kuni Restaurant in Waipahu, on the island of O'ahu. The restaurant had closed for the night when the alleged attack occurred.

The video shows a man repeatedly punching Deberah as the two moved through at least two rooms in the building. Co-workers eventually come to the woman's aid.

HPD has temporarily revoked Cachola's police powers and started an investigation into the incident after a citizen provided authorities with the video on Tuesday, KGMB reports. The investigation will also focus on why the responding officers did not arrest the sergeant on the night in question.

"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 HPD Chief Louis Kealoha. "But when you step back and compose yourself, then you think what needs to be done."

However, Cachola's ex-girlfriend told police internal affairs investigators Wednesday afternoon that the video was misleading, according to the station.

"I hit him first and we were just playing," Deberah told KGMB. "There was no danger, no injuries, no problem." She said she told officers who were called to the restaurant that she did not want to file a police complaint and wound up staying at Cachola's house later that night after the incident.

HPD Assistant Chief Susan Dowsett said, if it is determined that there was any wrongdoing, discipline against Cachola could include termination.

KGMB reports the Cachola's ex-wife, with whom he has three children, previously filed two petitions for temporary restraining orders against him in 2002 and 2009. Both were later dismissed. Both Cachola and his ex-wife admitted to putting false information in the TRO petitions. He filed for divorce in 2009 and she was award custody of the children.