Judge Rejects Charges for Hawaii Cops in Teen's Killing

Prosecutors filed murder, attempted murder charges after grand jury declined to indict
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 19, 2021 4:11 AM CDT
Judge Rejects Charges for Hawaii Cops in Teen's Killing
Honolulu Police Officers Geoffrey Thom, right, Christopher Fredeluces, second from right, and Zackary Ah Nee, third from right, sit in Judge William Domingo's courtroom before a preliminary hearing begins, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Honolulu.   (Cory Lum/Honolulu Civil Beat via AP, Pool, File)

A Hawaii judge on Wednesday rejected murder and attempted murder charges against three Honolulu police officers in the fatal shooting of a teenager, preventing the case from going to trial. District Court Judge William Domingo, in a ruling from the bench, said there was no probable cause that the officers committed the crimes they were accused of, the AP reports. He noted the teenager, 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap, led the officers on a high-speed chase immediately before the April 5 shooting, refusing commands to stop. He said the incident only ended after Sykap was shot and the car fell into a canal. Honolulu prosecutors filed charges against the three officers after a grand jury decided not to indict them, arguing a trial should be held regardless.

Officer Geoffrey Thom was charged with murder. Prosecutors said he fired 10 rounds at Sykap through the rear window of the car after it stopped at an intersection. Officers Zackary Ah Nee and Christopher Fredeluces, who also opened fire, were charged with second-degree attempted murder. "If there was no pursuit in the beginning, and there were just people in the car and officers just came up and started shooting from behind without any type of provocation—but that’s not what we have here,” Domingo said. Police say the Honda was stolen and linked to an escalating series of crimes in the days prior, including a purse snatching, a burglary, and an armed robbery. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Van Marter had argued in court that the officers weren't in danger at the time of the shooting.

(More Hawaii stories.)

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