3 Honolulu Police Officers Charged With Murder of 16-Year-Old Iremamber Sykap
Warning: Some people may find imagery in the following article disturbing.
The Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s office charged Tuesday one Honolulu police officer with murder and two others with attempted murder for the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap on April 5.
According to police, Sykap was driving a stolen car in April that was linked to an armed robbery, burglary, purse snatching and car theft. He allegedly then led officers on a car chase, which ended on Kalakaua Avenue and Philip Street, where police fatally shot him.
The officers facing charges:
- Geoffrey H.L. Thom, 42, was charged with one count of murder in the second degree. He is a 5-year veteran of HPD. If convicted, Thom will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.
- Zackary K. Ah Nee, 26, was charged with one count of attempted murder in the second degree. He is a 3-year veteran of HPD. If convicted, Ah Nee will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.
- Christopher Fredeluces, 40, was charged with one count of attempted murder in the second degree. He is a 10-year veteran of HPD. If convicted, Fredeluces will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.
"If convicted, the officers will each serve mandatory minimum prison terms of 20 years without the possibility of parole due to their use of semi-automatic firearms in connection with the alleged offenses,” the press release said.
Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Van Marter said in court documents that Thom fired 10 rounds into the rear window of the car “without provocation.” Eight of the shots hit Sykap. Fredeluces fired one shot but did not hit Sykap, he said.
Van Marter said that while Thom claimed the Honda rammed into his patrol car, body camera footage didn't show that. Thom's patrol car sustained “a few minor paint chips and some black scuffmarks," Van Marter said.
He said Ah Nee fired multiple times at Iremamber's brother who was also in the car. Mark Sykap suffered gunshot wounds in his right shoulder and right hand.
Police have not publicly released officer body camera footage from the shooting.
The complaint said Sykap sustained one gunshot wound to the back of the head, two gunshot wounds to the back of the neck, four to the upper back, and another to the left arm.
A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Thom said he was not taking calls. Listed numbers for Ah Nee and Fredeluces could not immediately be found.
An initial court appearance in District Court is set for June 25. That will be followed by a preliminary hearing where evidence such as body camera footage and ballistic reports will be introduced. It will not be released to the public before the hearing.
The charges come after a grand jury last week declined to indict the same three officers in the shooting that killed Sykap. Malcolm Lutu, president of the police union SHOPO, said the ruling reinforced the decision-making process made by the officers.
Interim Honolulu Police Chief Rade Vanic said he was surprised by the prosecutor's decision to seek charges after a grand jury decided not to indict.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The officers will have their police powers removed, and they will be assigned to desk duty.
Matt Dvonch, special counsel to Honolulu prosecutor Steve Alm, said it's not unusual for prosecutors to ask a judge to find probable cause that a crime has likely been committed after a grand jury has declined to indict a person.
He said the prosecution wasn't bringing any new evidence for the case that they didn't have when the case went before the grand jury.
Eric Seitz, an attorney representing Sykap’s family in a civil lawsuit, said he was gratified prosecutors were pursuing the case.
“We have suspected from the beginning when we began to get information about how the events unfolded, that the shooting was entirely unjustified,” he said. “Now that we’ve seen the further evidence that’s contained and attached to the charges, there’s no question in our minds that this was an event that could have been and should have been prevented.”
Sykap’s family has sued the city and the police officers, alleging negligence, assault and battery. The suit asks a state court to award damages, reimburse costs and declare that the officers’ use of deadly force was unlawful and unauthorized.