HONOLULU (KHON2) — The preliminary hearing for three Honolulu police officers charged in the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap resumed on Tuesday. The second day of testimony revealed that there were two gun replicas at the scene.
Prosecutors called several Honolulu Police Department (HPD) evidence specialists and determined that the bullet casings found at the scene were from the firearms assigned to the three officers charged in the case. They also determined the trajectories of the bullets fired.
During cross examination, defense attorneys revealed that two gun replicas were found at the scene, as well as two magazines — one of them had six bullets.
“Yes, the first photo is of a backpack,” Michael Lynch, HPD evidence specialist, said in court on Tuesday. “You can partially see a magazine with cartridges in it.”
“Did you find a 9 mm firearm in the car?” asked Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter.
“I did not,” said Lynch.
“Did you find any firearm in the car capable of having those magazines inserted and then fired?” asked Van Marter.
“No,” said Lynch.
“Did you find any firearm in the car at all?” asked Van Marter.
“Just the handgun,” said Lynch.
“The BB gun,” said Van Marter.
Van Marter pointed out that there were no real guns found, however, defense attorneys said at the time of the shooting, there was no way for police officers to know if the guns were real.
“In your training and experience, does that look like a real handgun?” asked defense attorney Thomas Otake.
“I would not be able to tell the difference,” said HPD Sgt. Adam Lipka.
“In other words, you would not be able to tell the difference between that and a real handgun?” asked Otake.
“It looks like a real gun to me,” said Lipka.
Defense attorneys also pointed out that by the time the officers responded to the scene, they were aware that Sykap and the other suspects were involved in an armed robbery.
According to police, Sykap was driving a stolen car that was linked to a crime spree before he drove it into the Kalakaua Stream on April 5. The others in the car ranged in age from 14 to 22.
Last week, a judge heard testimony from three witnesses to the fatal shooting, including a trauma surgeon, the medical examiner and a HPD patrol officer. Much of last week’s hearing dealt with the motions filed by the defense.
In May, his family filed a lawsuit against the City and police alleging that officers had been harassing and threatening family members. The lawsuit also seeks injunctive relief.
“They’ve been calling grandma and the mom. They’ve been going by their house and making threats,” Sykap family attorney Eric Seitz said during a news briefing in May. “Among them, threats that if the other brothers don’t turn themselves in and cooperate with the authorities, that they’re going to end up dead as well.”
Seitz said he believes the officers who were engaged in the shooting are legitimately concerned they may face criminal charges.
One officer is charged with one count of second-degree murder after prosecutors said he fired 10 rounds at Sykap through the rear window of the car. According to prosecutors, eight of the 10 shots he fired hit the teen in the back of the head, neck, back and left arm. The bullet that hit Sykap in the back of his head fractured his skull and entered his brain.
The five-year police department veteran fired the shots “without provocation” after the car came to a stop at an intersection, according to court documents. If convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of 20 years because of the kind of gun used in the shooting, which was a 9 mm Glock semi-automatic firearm.
The two other officers, who also opened fire, are charged with second-degree attempted murder. Prosecutors filed the charges after a grand jury declined to indict the three officers.
On Tuesday, prosecutors did not show any bodycam footage but made reference to one clip from an officer who testified about why she did not fire her weapon.
“Are you saying you didn’t fire because Officer Thom was in the line of fire?” asked Van Marter.
“I didn’t say the whole time,” said HPD Officer Chanel Price.
“So why didn’t you fire?” asked Van Marter.
“I didn’t have to,” said Price.
That video is expected to be shown on Wednesday when the hearing resumes at 1:30 p.m.