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Honolulu officers testify in preliminary hearing for colleagues accused in shooting death of teen

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Honolulu police Sgt. Adam Lipka listens to questions from defense attorney Richard Sing, reflected in the plexiglass barrier, in the district courtroom of judge William M. Domingo during the third day of preliminary hearings for three Honolulu police officers in the killing of Iremamber Sykap, on Tuesday, in Honolulu.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Honolulu police Sgt. Adam Lipka listens to questions from defense attorney Richard Sing, reflected in the plexiglass barrier, in the district courtroom of judge William M. Domingo during the third day of preliminary hearings for three Honolulu police officers in the killing of Iremamber Sykap, on Tuesday, in Honolulu.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Supporters of the three Honolulu police officers charged in shooting death of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap rally outside District Court on Alakea before the start of day two of their preliminary hearing.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Supporters of the three Honolulu police officers charged in shooting death of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap rally outside District Court on Alakea before the start of day two of their preliminary hearing.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Family members of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap and their supporters stage a counter-protest outside District Court on Alakea before the start of day two of the preliminary hearing for the three Honolulu police officers charged in the teen’s shooting death.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Family members of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap and their supporters stage a counter-protest outside District Court on Alakea before the start of day two of the preliminary hearing for the three Honolulu police officers charged in the teen’s shooting death.

The stolen white Honda Civic driven by 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap was involved in an armed home-invasion robbery 30 minutes before officers tried to pull him over on April 5 when he led them on a high-speed chase, according to testimony in District Court in Honolulu this afternoon.

Honolulu police Sgt. Adam Lipka told the court that the three officers were part of the shift that received information that the car was identified by license plate as the vehicle connected to a purse snatching in Waikiki and an armed robbery the week before.

About 30 minutes before police found Sykap, his brother Mark Sykap, and their companions in the stolen car, a call went out over the police radios about an armed home invasion on Eisenberg Street, according to Lipka. Two “local males” were seen carrying firearms leaving the scene, he said.

”In your experience … is brandishing a firearm in broad daylight during a home invasion demonstrate a serious risk of death or grave bodily injury,” defense attorney Thomas M. Otake asked Lipka, a prosecution witness.

“Most definitely,” he responded.

Today was the second day of preliminary hearing, which began last Tuesday, for the three Honolulu police officers charged with murder and attempted murder in connection in the April 5 shooting death of Iremamber Sykap.

Before today’s hearing, supporters of the officers and counter-protesters demonstrated outside the Alakea Street courthouse.

Off-duty police officers and their family and friends were joined by firefighters, other public-sector union members and the “Back Dah Blue Hawaii” police booster group who called for the charges to be dropped and for officers to be respected.

Family members of Sykap joined community advocates and the group Refuse Fascism Hawaii to support the prosecution of the three officers.

Officer Geoffrey H.L. Thom, 42, a five-year HPD veteran, is charged with second-degree murder after allegedly firing into the back of the vehicle, hitting Sykap eight times, including in the back of the head and neck. Zackary K. Ah Nee, 26, who has been with the department for three years, and his partner Christopher J. Fredeluces, 40, who has 10 years of service with HPD, both face charges of second-degree attempted murder for firing their 9mm Glock sidearms into the car.

Inside the court, Judge William M. Domingo continued to hear evidence in the preliminary hearing for the officers.

Domingo will eventually decide if the trio should stand trial or the charges against them should be dismissed.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher T. Van Marter planned to call 11 witnesses, starting with Lt. Brandon Nakasone of the Honolulu Police Department’s Professional Standards Office, the division that investigates officers accused of crimes or side-stepping department policies.

Van Marter also has officer Chanel Price on his witness list. On April 5, Price pulled up behind the car driven by Sykap, drew her weapon but did not shoot. HPD evidence specialist and other officers were scheduled to reiterate their grand jury testimony and discuss the footage pulled from their body cameras.

Sykap had methamphetamine in his system when he was driving a stolen white Honda Civic that was allegedly involved in a series of crimes over two days before ignoring officers commands to pull over. The other prosecution witnesses scheduled to appear are evidence specialist Michael Lynch, Brittany Coop, Hideko Yoshihara, Jasmina Eliza, Greyson Alcosiba, HPD ballistics expert Curtis Kubo, Sgt. William Malina, Veronica DeMello and Lipka.

The prosecution is trying to prove that the officers fired into an idled vehicle and that Sykap — along with his brother Mark, who is free on a $50,000 bond connected to a robbery charge in a separate incident, and juveniles in the car — did not pose a threat near the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Philip Street.

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