HONOLULU (KHON2) — Three officers charged in the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy made their first appearance in court on Friday, June 25, and their arrival was surrounded by hundreds of supporters. Crowds shouted as the officers were led into court, “Free the three!”
The teenager, who was later identified as Iremamber Sykap, was shot and killed on April 5 while allegedly driving a stolen vehicle that police said was involved in a crime spree.
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The police officers union (SHOPO) was joined by other labor unions to support the officers. They also plan to be at the preliminary hearing in July.
The crowd filled the sidewalk outside the courthouse, waved signs and chanted in support of the three HPD officers charged with the shooting. None of the officers inside spoke at the hearing, which lasted just a few minutes.
“Good morning your honor, Richard Sing on behalf of Geoffrey Thom, present to my right, oh to my left,” Sing said to the judge.
“Good morning your honor, Thomas Otake on behalf of Zackary Ah Nee, who is present,” said Otake.
“Good morning your honor, Crystal Glendon on behalf of Christopher Fredeluces, who’s present,” said Glendon.
Prosecutors said video evidence does not match what officers said in the police report. Prosecutors charged the officers even though a grand jury declined to do so. This did not sit well with their supporters, who included State and City lawmakers.
“So I’m asking Prosecuting Attorney Alm to consider his ways, to consider what he’s doing here, there’s a lot of irregularities,” said councilmember Heidi Tsuneyoshi.
“I think this is a big injustice to the state and the city that we’re prosecuting the people that protect our families and our community,” said State Sen. Kurt Fevella.
Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm sent a statement saying, “If I, or a deputy prosecutor who worked for me, were suspected of committing a crime, I would not expect that person or myself to get a pass. Supporting HPD, while also holding accountable those few who break the law, is only fair and is the right thing to do.”
The officers’ attorneys released a statement saying, “It is clear that most in our community believe that filing these charges after an independent Grand Jury rejected them is concerning… we as their attorneys will do all that we can to prevent wrongful convictions in this case.”
A small group was there who said the officers should be prosecuted.
“With the summons being released we see very clearly what happened. These officers were not in danger, they lied about being in danger, they lied about pedestrians being around, they lied about the car ramming into the police cars,” said Lesley Gabrielle.
SHOPO said the large turnout sent a strong statement.
“It shows that the community cares, we have unions, we have individual people, and it’s a sight to see. I wanted the officers to know this is the support they have,” said SHOPO President Malcolm Lutu.
HPD Interim Chief Rade Vanic sent a statement saying, “We continue to trust the judicial system, and we ask for everyone’s patience as this case makes its way through the courts.” A spokeswoman says the officers police powers have been removed.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 20.