Testimony resumes in Hawaii police shooting that killed teen

Posted at 6:55 PM, July 27, 2021 and last updated 8:12 PM, June 14, 2023


HONOLULU (AP) — A hearing resumes Tuesday to determine whether there is probable cause for murder and attempted murder charges against three Honolulu police officers in a shooting that killed a 16-year-old Micronesian boy.

A judge began hearing testimony from witnesses last week about the April 5 shooting that killed Iremamber Sykap. Authorities said he was driving a stolen car linked to an armed robbery, burglary, purse-snatching and car theft. Sykap led officers on a chase immediately before the shooting, police said.

Honolulu Police officer Geoffrey Thom, left, Gregory Fredeluces, and Zackary Ah Nee in court Friday, June 25, 2021, in Honolulu. Three Honolulu police officers appeared in court on Friday to face charges in connection with the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old Micronesian boy, the first cases of their kind against law enforcement in the city in more than 40 years. The officers were not asked to enter pleas during the hearing, when they were officially informed of the charges that they face. (Craig T. Kojima/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)

It’s unclear if the hearing will wrap up Tuesday or when the judge will decide whether there’s a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed and that the case can go forward to trial.

Officer Geoffrey Thom was charged with murder after prosecutors said he fired 10 rounds at Sykap through the rear window of the car after it stopped at an intersection. Fellow Officers Zackary Ah Nee and Christopher Fredeluces, who also opened fire, are charged with second-degree attempted murder.

Police supporters and a group called Back Dah Blue are expected to gather outside the courthouse again Tuesday, as they did last week with cheers and applause for the trio.

Those who decried the shooting also gathered at the courthouse last week. Some say it shows that Hawaii isn’t immune to racial injustice and police brutality that have prompted protests in other parts of the U.S. Some in the Micronesian community say the shooting highlights the racism they face in Hawaii, a place they expected to be more welcoming to fellow islanders.

Sykap was born in Guam, a U.S. territory, to parents who were from Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Prosecutors’ decision to pursue charges has been fraught. A grand jury refused to indict them, so prosecutors are seeking a judge’s determination that there’s probable cause for the charges.
Judge William Domingo denied defense motions last week to drop the case. One motion argued that’s illegal to pursue charges via a preliminary hearing after failing to convince a grand jury to indict the officers.

When the hearing paused last week, Domingo asked various witnesses to return Tuesday, including numerous police officers.