HONOLULU (KHON2) — Three officers with the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) have been charged with multiple offenses relating to the officer-involved shooting at Kalakaua Avenue and Philip Street.
The 16-year-old, who was later identified as Iremamber Sykap, died in April after officers found him in operation of a stolen car and a chase ensued.
The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney announced the charges on Tuesday, June 15.
On Wednesday, June 9, the Prosecutor’s office presented evidence to an Oahu grand jury seeking indictments of the officers, however, the jury declined to return any of them. The following day, SHOPO held a news conference to comment on the decision.
“This is the first time ever since I’ve been an officer, which is 30-plus years, I’ve never seen a case go to Grand Jury prior to the case being wrapped up — closed — so this is new territory for us,” said SHOPO President Malcolm Lutu.
If convicted, the officers will each serve mandatory minimum prison terms of 20 years without
the possibility of parole. The Prosecutor’s office said this is due to the officers’ use of semi-automatic firearms in connection with the alleged offenses.
Below are the charges:
- Geoffrey H.L. Thom, 42, was charged with one count of Murder in the Second Degree. If
convicted, Thom will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.
He is a 5-year veteran of HPD.
- Zackary K. Ah Nee, 26, was charged with one count of Attempted Murder in the Second Degree.
If convicted, Ah Nee will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of
parole. He is a 3-year veteran of HPD.
- Christopher J. Fredeluces, 40, was charged with one count of Attempted Murder in the Second
Degree. If convicted, Fredeluces will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the
possibility of parole. He is a 10-year veteran of HPD.
Here are more details:
According to the complaint, the officer charged with murder, Geoffrey Thom, shot Sykap 8 times. The complaint states that Thom wrote in his report that he shot to protect himself and others. He said the white Honda “rammed” into his patrol car but prosecutors say that is not seen on the body-worn camera videos. Also, the patrol car had only a few minor paint chips and scuff marks.
Officer Zackary Ah Nee, charged with attempted murder, wrote in his police report that he saw what he thought was the butt of a firearm on the lap of the front seat passenger. Prosecutors say it appears the passenger has a thin, square object on his lap which does not resemble a firearm, based on the body-worn camera video.
Law expert Doug Chin tells KHON2 there are two ways prosecutors can introduce a serious crime into the justice system.
“One way is to have the Grand Jury decide that there’s probably cause. Another way is for a judge to make that decision that there’s probable cause to go forward,” said Chin.
The officers could face life in prison with the possibility of parole if convicted.
“There’s a saying that I think everyone tries to believe in, which is ‘equal justice under the law.’ And that’s the idea that no one is above the law, whether or not you’re a regular person on the street, or police officer, or government official, this would seem to support that idea that no one is above the law,” Chin said.
Interim HPD Chief Rade Vanic issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“We are surprised by the Prosecuting Attorney’s announcement to seek charges against the officers after a grand jury comprised of citizens decided not to indict them. This is highly unusual, and we are not aware of a similar action having been taken in the past. While we await the court’s decision, we will continue to protect and serve the community as we have always done.”
The Prosecutor’s Office has declined an interview at this time.
The three officers are scheduled to make an initial court appearance on June 25. A preliminary hearing is set at a later date when evidence such as bodycam footage and ballistic reports will be introduced but will not be released to the public before then.