A Honolulu police officer charged with murder and two officers charged with attempted murder in connection with the April 5 deadly shooting of a 16-year-old boy arrived at Honolulu District Court to made their initial appearances this morning.
Police officer Geoffrey H.L. Thom, 42, was charged with one count of second-degree murder in Iremamber Sykap’s death, and officers Zackary K. Ah Nee, 26, and Christopher J. Fredeluces, 40, were each charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder via complaints filed in court by the Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney on June 15.
The officers donned in aloha shirts stood next to their attorneys before Judge Clarence Pacarro during the hearing that lasted approximately three minutes long. Attorney Richard Sing is representing Thom, attorney Thomas Otake is representing Ah Nee and attorney Crystal Glendon is representing Fredeluces.
Three Honolulu police officers charged in connection with the deadly April 5 shooting of a 16-year-old boy arrive in Honolulu District Court with their attorneys for their initial appearances to begin shortly @StarAdvertiser
— Rosemarie Bernardo (@RoseBernardo) June 25, 2021
Pacarro scheduled a preliminary hearing for July 20.
Attorneys for the officers issued a joint statement after the appearance: ”Geoffrey, Zack and Chris want to thank the community for the overwhelming outpouring of support. It is clear that most in our community believe that filing these charges after an independent Grand Jury rejected them is concerning, to say the very least. While we recognize the tragedy of this situation, we as their attorneys will do all that we can to prevent wrongful convictions in this case.”
A rally began ahead of the hearing, with members of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO), ILWU, Back Da Blue and Stolen Stuff Hawaii turning out to show support for the officers. More than 200 people lined the front of the courthouse from Richards Street to Alakea.
— Peter Boylan (@PeterBBoylan) June 25, 2021
“These people serve us in our communities each day, and they go out knowing they may not come back, and their families have to deal with that every day, and so we need to be there and whatever the outcome is, we’re praying and supporting each and every one of the officers and all of their families because we need to show ourselves,” said Cheryl Miram, who was at the rally. “We need to be there.”
The charges brought against the officers by Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm came six days after a grand jury declined to return an indictment against them.
The complaint alleges Thom, Ah Nee and Fredeluces’ use of deadly force “was unnecessary, unreasonable and unjustified under the law.”
“This is not the Mainland,” said Sen. Kurt Fevella through a bullhorn, facing the crowd with his back to the courthouse entrance. “You guys doing your job and you getting prosecuted for doing your job…this is wrong on every level. “
City Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi, Chair of the Council committee on public safety also addressed the crowd gathered in front of the courthouse. She said Prosecuting Attorney Steven S. Alm’s decision to charge the officers defies reasoning because a grand jury of citizens declined to indict the officers. “This is a very unusual circumstance for the officers in the line of duty. I’m asking Prosecuting Attorney Alm to consider what he’s doing here. Think about what you are doing….let’s hope the right thing happens for the officers. We need to come together to support our officers and support our community and move past this.”
Sykap was the alleged driver of a stolen Honda Civic that led police on a high-speed chase that began in East Honolulu and ended when officers opened fire on Kalakaua Avenue near Philip Street. The vehicle was linked to an alleged armed robbery, purse-snatching and theft, according to the complaint.
Thom, Ah Nee and Fredeluces are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.