HONOLULU — A policeman has been charged with murder and two officers charged with attempted murder in the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old boy, Honolulu prosecutors said Tuesday.
The charges come after a grand jury last week declined to indict the same three officers in the shooting that killed Iremamber Sykap on April 5.
Geoffrey H.L. Thom was charged with one count of second-degree murder.
Zackary K. Ah Nee and Christopher Fredeluces were each charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder.
Thom is a five-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department. Ah Nee and Fredeluces have served in the department for three and 10 years, respectively.
All three officers face up to life in prison without parole if convicted. A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Thom said he was not taking calls. Listed numbers for Ah Nee and Fredeluces could not immediately be found.
Police said Sykap was driving a stolen Honda linked to an armed robbery, burglary, purse snatching and car theft and led officers on a chase before the shooting. Medical records provided by an attorney representing Sykap’s mother and grandmother in a lawsuit say the teen was shot in the back of the head and shoulders.
Police have refused to release officer body camera footage from the shooting.
The Honolulu Police Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges.
Matt Dvonch, special counsel to Honolulu prosecutor Steve Alm, said it’s not unusual for prosecutors to ask a judge to find probable cause that a crime has likely been committed after a grand jury has declined to indict a person.
He said the prosecution wasn’t bringing any new evidence for the case that they didn’t have when the case went before the grand jury.
Eric Seitz, an attorney representing Sykap’s family in a civil lawsuit against the city and as-of-yet unidentified police officers, said he was gratified prosecutors were pursuing the case.
“We have suspected from the beginning when we began to get information about how the events unfolded, that the shooting was entirely unjustified,” he said. “Now that we’ve seen the further evidence that’s contained and attached to the charges, there’s no question in our minds that this was an event that could have been and should have been prevented.”
The family’s lawsuit alleges negligence, assault and battery. It asks a state court to award damages, reimburse costs and declare that the officers’ use of deadly force was unlawful and unauthorized.
Jacquie Esser, a state deputy public defender who is not involved in the case, said it’s critical that police be held accountable for when they do use excessive force and kill unarmed people or if they commit misconduct.
“This is a huge step towards accountability, which is critical for the community’s trust in their policing system,” she said.
The three officers were scheduled to appear in court on June 25.