Hawaii Police Department Sgt. Thomas Chung-Ming has been honored for actions that, according to a police statement, “very likely saved the life of a woman who was in imminent danger.”
Chung-Ming was presented the county’s Haweo Award Tuesday in the County Council’s Kona chambers, and presented a lei and certificate signed by each council member.
On April 23, just before noon, Chun-Ming was conducting routine beat checks at the Kawaihae Boat Harbor. In doing so, he noticed a rental-type vehicle parked on the shoulder, but against the flow of traffic, with woman in the driver’s seat staring straight forward and a man outside the vehicle avoiding eye contact with the sergeant. When Chun-Ming completed his beat check he saw the car was still illegally parked with both individuals exhibiting the same avoiding-type behavior, but now the man was in the front passenger seat.
Chun-Ming stopped by the car, and the woman told him she was involved in a domestic incident with the passenger, 27-year-old Adam Kahekili Kepoo, police said. Chun-Ming reportedly observed a knife wedged between Keopp’s legs and the woman with cut wounds and bruises on her upper body and face.
Kepoo was arrested and charged with 12 counts of domestic abuse, three counts each of second-degree assault and first-degree terroristic threatening in the first-degree, two counts of second-degree terroristic threatening and single counts of attempted felony domestic abuse, felony domestic abuse, kidnapping, fourth-degree theft, open container of liquor in vehicle and unauthorized possession of confidential information.
Police say the woman had been held captive more than two weeks, during which she was raped, punched in the face numerous times, head-butted, slashed with a knife, emotionally abused, and provided minimal amounts of food and water. The victim reported that her main source of water was from drinking from the shower when allowed to.
The victim reportedly told detectives she felt she couldn’t escape the suspect and would eventually be killed by him if not for the actions of Sergeant Chun-Ming.
Kepoo remains in custody with bail set at $300,500.
This case was one of many occasions in which Sergeant Chun-Ming exemplified his professional and compassionate nature combined with great instincts and a strong work ethic, police said.
The award was presented by the council’s Parks and Recreation and Public Safety Committee, which earlier this year partnered with the police and fire departments to recognize employees that go above and beyond the call of duty. The name of the award, “Haweo,” means to glow or to be radiant.