Legal experts say bodycam footage isn’t clear enough to show if HPD shooting is justified

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Bodycam footage released in court will determine if the three Honolulu police officers charged in the shooting death of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap will have to face trial, but legal experts say it’s still hard to say what the videos actually show.

Legal experts say the crux of this case comes down to whether the white Honda driven by Sykap was still moving when officers fired. They say from the videos shown so far, it’s hard to tell.

Prosecutors showed bodycam footage from three officers, two of them charged in the case. Legal experts who reviewed the footage can’t say for sure if the car was still moving when the officers fired.

“If you look at one of the videos, it does look like the car is moving and then the shots are fired. If you look at the other videos, it looks like the car is standing still,” said defense attorney Megan Kau, who is not involved in the case.

District Court Judge William Domingo will have to determine for himself when he makes a decision on whether the officers should go on trial. To do so, the judge will have to put himself in the shoes of an officer.

“Will a reasonable person in the shoes of the police officer believe that fellow officers were in danger, and therefore they had to use deadly force?” said former Circuit Court judge Randal Lee.

The defense is expected to call other police officers who were there to testify. Experts say in addition to emphasizing that officers’ lives were in danger, attorneys will focus on what police said was a crime spree involving Sykap and other suspects before the shooting.

“Who did they harm? What did they use did they use? A gun or a BB gun that looks like a gun? Did they cause serious bodily injury or death or the threat thereof?” said Kau.

That includes the high-speed chase with officers repeatedly telling the suspects in the Honda to pull over, and the suspects going through red lights and speeding through residential areas.

Experts also point out that in a preliminary hearing, prosecutors only need to show probable cause, which is the lowest standard. So it’s rare for a judge to dismiss a case. The hearing continues on Aug. 17.

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