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Ex-Big Island assistant police chief jailed for alleged assault

KAILUA-KONA, Hawai‘i — A former Hawaii Police Department assistant chief was in Circuit Court on Friday for his arraignment on charges stemming from a Sept. 22 altercation with his police detective ex-girlfriend.

Mitchell Kanehailua Jr., 57, of Hilo, pleaded not guilty and demanded a jury trial through his court appointed attorney, Ann Datta, at Friday’s proceedings in front of Judge Robert D.S. Kim.

Kanehailua was arrested on Sunday morning and charged Monday evening with violating a restraining order, first-degree attempted burglary, third-degree assault and third-degree attempted assault.

At around 5:14 a.m. Sunday, Kona patrol officers responded to a report of a possible domestic dispute in the 73-4000 block of Hawaii Belt Road in Kona.

According to court documents, Carrie Akina, a 41-year-old detective with HPD’s Area II Criminal Investigation Section, was awakened by a phone call at about 5:08 a.m. from her neighbor Tennille Howard.

Howard later told police that she had heard someone yelling outside between 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. and eventually approached him, telling him he wasn’t allowed to be there.

Akina, who according to the documents had been in a relationship with Kanehailua between 2016 and 2020, had previously obtained a protective order against him in March that prohibits him from coming within 100 feet of her.

In response to Howard’s remark, Kanehailua allegedly swung at her, but she was able to evade the attack, whereupon she called Akina.

Upon answering the phone, Akina heard Kanehailua’s voice in the background, prompting her to approach her front door.

At the front door, Akina allegedly witnessed Kanehailua shouting obscenities and kicking the door. He then approached a glass door on another side of the residence and shouted at it instead.

Akina later told police that she felt that Kanehailua would be an immediate threat to her and her two children if he were to break the glass door, so she went to retrieve her police service weapon from a safe in her bedroom, the documents state.

Upon her return to the front of the house, Akina saw her two nephews “confronting” Kanehailua, and eventually the two were able to “gain control” of him, according to the documents.

Akina retrieved her police handcuffs from her vehicle and restrained Kanehailua until other officers arrived.

Officers allegedly found the restrained Kanehailua shouting obscenities and seemingly not “in the right state of mind.”

Kanehailua initially was placed under arrest for the violation of the order of protection and harassment, but after conferring with the Department of the Attorney General, he was charged with the other offenses, and his bail was set at $9,000.

He appeared at an initial hearing in Kona District Court on Tuesday, where bail was maintained, and he remained in custody pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday.

However, Deputy Attorney General Elyse Oyama filed a felony information complaint, which negated the need for a preliminary hearing and sent the case to Circuit Court.

The case is being prosecuted by the State Attorney General because of a conflict of interest with county prosecutors.

Kim maintained bail at $9,000 and set Feb. 6, 2024 for a jury trial.

Kanehailua remained in custody as of press time Friday.

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West Hawaii Today reporter Laura Ruminski can be reached at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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