Honolulu, HI — As the Free Thought Project has reported over the years, it is extremely rare for police officers in America to be charged with murder for killing people on duty. Even when those people are unarmed and innocent, cops in America are rarely charged with murder. This lack of charges for killer cops is the reason people were stunned in Hawaii in June after not one but three Honolulu cops were charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the fatal on-duty shooting of a 16-year-old boy.
Unfortunately, however, the paradigm of killer cops walking free remains unchanged — at least in Hawaii — after District Court Judge William Domingo dismissed the charges against Officers Geoffrey Thom, Zackary Ah Nee and Christopher Fredeluces this month.
Iremamber Sykap, the 16-year-old victim, was shot 8 times by the officers — through the rear window of his car — as he attempted to drive away. The teen’s brother, Mark Sykap was also struck by two bullets but survived.
According to police, the incident unfolded on April 5, 2021, after Sykap led officers on chase in a vehicle they suspected was stolen.
Thom, 42, was charged with second-degree murder for allegedly firing the shots that killed Sykap “without provocation.” Ah Nee, 26, and Fredeluces, 40, faced second-degree attempted murder charges for also shooting into the fleeing car. But none of the officers face these charges any longer.
“The court finds that there is no probable cause that Geoffrey Thom committed murder, that Ah Nee committed attempted murder, and Officer Fredeluces committed attempted murder,” said District Court Judge William Domingo.
After the decision, the officers hugged their attorneys and celebrated. According to the judge, the officers were forced to make quick decisions and didn’t have time to wait to see if the gunfire they heard was from Sykap or their fellow cops. It was from their fellow cops.
“I don’t think any reasonable person looking at the evidence would say, you know what you gotta wait a few seconds for us to really find out whether the shots are coming from inside the car toward you, so he shot back,” said Domingo.
Prosecutors disagreed however, and claimed that the officers opened fire “for no reason.”
“Do you see Thom on the back of the vehicle shooting for no reason? No one’s in front of the vehicle. He was definitely not in danger where he was,” deputy prosecutor Chris Van Marter said. “No one’s in front of the car except for an empty patrol car. Still, no one in front of that car and even pedestrians — there’s no pedestrians. There’s no one around there.”
Statement from Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm on today’s decision on the Sykap case: pic.twitter.com/FdLs6SVQWW
— Sam Spangler (@SamSpanglerHI) August 19, 2021
According to KHON 2, after the decision, the three officers issued statements through their attorneys. Officer Thom said, “Now that the department of the prosecuting attorney failed before both the grand jury and the court, we hope these base-less accusations will never be repeated.”
From Officer Ah Nee: “It is our hope the community can recognize that supporting the officers and understanding their actions, can co-exist with a feeling of deep sympathy for the loss of the Sykap family.”
And from Officer Fredeluces: “The grand jury spoke first, and now the court has spoken.”
According to the original police report, officers claimed Sykap rammed their car and attempted to use the vehicle as a weapon. Police also claimed they saw a gun in Sykap’s lap. However, neither of these things were true.
Prosecutors say body camera video contradicts the officers’ claims that Sykap attempted to use the car to ram them, putting their lives in danger. All sides agree that Sykap was not complying with officers’ demands but but never did he pose a threat, the complaints state.
As Hawaii News Now reports:
Ah Nee said he thought he saw a firearm on the front passenger’s lap, but prosecutors said body camera footage show a thin square object that does not look like a firearm.
Photos included in the criminal complaint showed the direction of the bullets that were fired. Sykap was shot in the back of the head and several times in the shoulder.
Thom’s body camera video shows him standing behind the car when he fired 10 times. The two other officers were on the side of the vehicle.
“There was no one in front of the white Honda, and there were no civilians on the sidewalk or anywhere in front of the white Honda,” the complaint stated. “The evidence confirms that Defendant Thom did intentionally or knowingly cause the death of Iremamber Sykap by shooting (him) eight times.”
Naturally, the police union disagrees and blames the public and the press for the prosecution of the “brave men” who executed a child as he fled.
“Our officers have given their lives for these communities that we protect. Tell me what profession does that and gets pounded by the media and keyboard warriors out there for doing our jobs protecting you,” union President Malcom Lutu said in a statement.
Apparently, according to Lutu, citizens are protected when cops kill unarmed fleeing children for running away — and the system agrees.