A retired Hawaii County police detective is under investigation for allegedly assaulting another county official while still a member of the department in the vicinity of a building that houses government offices.
Ian Lee Loy, who’s married to Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, is being investigated in the incident, according to official sources. Police confirmed only a report of an assault on July 25 on the 100 block of Aupuni Street.
Ian Lee Loy declined to comment on the criminal case, referring questions to his attorney, Donald Wilkerson, who also declined comment Monday.
The coconut wireless has been abuzz with allegations about the case for some months, with the newspapers receiving telephone calls and letters from readers asking why there’s been no media coverage.
Lee Loy attributes an ongoing court case involving two other police officers who were indicted on charges of tipping off a gambling ring prior to a police raid as a possible reason for the buzz. He said he’s expected to testify in the case that’s scheduled for a hearing Jan. 6.
“Allegations of misconduct on my part and dragging Sue into it began to surface,” he said. “These guys are trying to discredit me before I testify.”
County Prosecutor Mitch Roth, when asked about the criminal investigation into Lee Loy, would say only that he’s “conflicted out” of the case and turned it over to another law enforcement agency. Roth wouldn’t say which agency. In a previous case involving a high-profile public official, Roth turned it over to the state attorney general.
Krishna F. Jayaram, special assistant to the attorney general, contacted Monday, said, “our office doesn’t confirm or deny with respect to investigations.”
Two anonymous letters reached the county Board of Ethics, which discussed them and then filed them without action at its Dec. 11 meeting.
The unsigned letters, which are public record, accuse county officials of “sweeping this under the rug,” because of the officials involved.
“It seems to me, in this county, there are different laws for different people. I am very upset about this and feel that this should be made public,” one Sept. 30 letter-writer said. “I am not signing my name for fear of possible retaliation by the police department.”
Ethics Board member David Wiseman, a former judge, was concerned about the letters. He wondered aloud if the board should look into the complaints.
“What we’re having is two letters raising an issue that’s professional misconduct,” Wiseman said at the meeting. “This shouldn’t simply go away. These are serious allegations.”
Roth, who was at the Ethics Board meeting on an unrelated matter, was circumspect in discussing the case in a public forum. He said he could talk about cases in general, not a specific case.
“Sometimes it takes us a while to charge these cases. … During these periods of time no information will be given out on any of these cases,” Roth said. “It’s very possible that the system is working. … Looking at these letters you can’t see what’s going on.”
Lee Loy said he’s concerned about unequal application of the law as well. In fact, he said, he appeared before the Police Commission on Dec. 20 with a complaint about the department’s policy of receiving and processing complaints from the public.
“Complainant alleged that an officer violated his rights by not allowing him to file a criminal complaint,” is how Lee Loy’s petition is characterized on the agenda. The matter was taken up behind closed doors in executive session, with the board then voting unanimously to refer the issue to the police chief for procedural investigation, according to Deputy Corporation Counsel Malia Hall.
Lee Loy retired July 31, less than a week after the incident, but both the detective and the councilwoman said Monday his retirement was being contemplated as early as last spring.
“My retirement has been a plan a long time coming,” Ian Lee Loy said. “It wasn’t a force-out as some people are trying to say.”
“I spoke with Sue,” he added. “I feel bad for her that she fields these types of questions.”
Sue Lee Loy, in a separate phone call, echoed her husband’s retirement plans.
“The retirement was planned before this. One has nothing do with the other,” Sue Lee Loy said. “It really was what was best for our family, and Ian addressing another personal matter that was way outside of my profession and his.”