Prosecutors defend pursuing charges against 3 officers

July 16, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu prosecutors maintained Thursday that there’s legal authority to prosecute three police officers in connection with a shooting that killed a 16-year-old Micronesian boy.

Prosecutors filed the charges after a grand jury declined to indict the officers for April 5 shooting killed Iremamber Sykap, who police said 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.

In a response to a motion by a lawyer for one of the officers seeking to dismiss the case, prosecutors laid out reasons why the law supports prosecuting the officers for murder and attempted murder.

Officer Zackary Ah Nee’s motion argues that the officers can only be prosecuted via an indictment. Attorneys representing fellow Officers Geoffrey Thom and Christopher Fredeluces have joined in the motion.

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

Prosecutors filed their response Thursday, saying felony prosecutions are allowed via several methods, including holding a preliminary hearing before a judge to determine probable cause.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, which is also when a judge is expected to consider the motion to dismiss.

After the shooting, a grand jury indicted Sykap’s two older brothers. They’re accused of assaulting and robbing a woman near a makeshift memorial for their brother. One brother was released on bond, while the other remained at large until he surrendered Thursday and was arrested. The brother who was arrested Thursday is also accused of robbing a man in a separate incident.