Three HPD officers charged in fatal teen shooting hire private attorneys

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The three HPD officers charged in the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy have hired private attorneys, according to their union. They will have their first court hearing on Friday and are expected to plead not guilty.

Officer Geoffrey Thom has been charged with murder, while officers Zackary Ah Nee and Christopher Fredeluces were charged with attempted murder for the shooting in April that killed Iremamber Sykap.

“It’s really so that they’ll be able to see more evidence and to decide what their options are, perhaps to work out a plea bargain with the prosecutors,” said legal expert Doug Chin.

Prosecutors chose not to serve an arrest warrant for the officers, which Chin says is unusual considering the seriousness of the charges.

“It is unusual that you would have a murder or attempted murder charge where there’s only a penal summons that’s being issued. That’s unusual, but there’s other factors,” said Chin.

He adds that the officers are probably not considered a flight risk, and since HPD assigned them to desk duty, prosecutors determined that the officers are not a danger to the community. So they weren’t arrested.

While Friday’s hearing will be short, the next one, the preliminary hearing, could take a couple of weeks. Prosecutors will be present evidence to convince a judge that a crime MAY have been committed, otherwise known as probable cause.

“So that’s a very low standard, that is not the same as the ultimate trial that will happen somewhere down the road, if that’s where it goes, where the prosecution will have to prove the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt,”aid Chin.

With footage from 70 bodycams and 20 security cameras in the area, prosecutors will be able to show as much as they need to convince the judge that there’s probable cause.

Prosecutors have been criticized for charging the officers even though a grand jury declined to do so. Chin points out that defense attorneys can get the transcripts from the grand jury hearing, and use them to support their case.

“In other words, if one of the investigators that was in charge of the murder or attempted murder case said something different in front of the grand jury than what they said to the judge in the probable cause hearing, well then that goes to the credibility of that investigator,” said Chin.

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