Iremamber Sykap's family has filed a civil suit against the department

By Chris Harris
June 17, 2021 01:11 PM
Iremamber Sykap
Iremamber Sykap
| Credit: Skyap Family

Criminal charges have been filed in Hawaii against the three Honolulu policemen involved in the April 5 shooting death of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap.

One of the officers, 42-year-old Geoffrey Thom, faces one count of second-degree murder, while Zackary Ah Nee, 26, and Christopher Fredeluces, 40, are charged with individual counts of second-degree attempted murder.

Thom joined the the police force five years ago. Ah Nee has been with the department for three years and Fredeluces is a 10-year veteran of the Honolulu Police.

The charges were announced on Tuesday by the city's prosecutor, Steven Alm.

All three officers face up to life in prison without parole if convicted, PEOPLE learns.

The three defendants could not be reached for comment, and it was unclear if they've retained legal counsel.

The men will appear in court on June 25, where they will be asked to enter pleas.

Sykap was fatally shot following a police chase.

The prosecutor alleges Thom shot Sykap 8 times. A total of 10 shots were fired during the deadly encounter.

In his account of the shooting, Thom alleged Sykap steered his car into the officer's cruiser, and that he shot the suspect to protect him and others. Prosecutors contend the evidence doesn't support Thom's claims.

In his report, Ah Nee claimed he saw what he thought was the butt of a firearm on the lap of the front seat passenger - Sykap's brother. Again, prosecutors counter that body camera footage - that has not been publicly released - shows the object the passenger had was not a rifle, and does not resemble a firearm.

Police have alleged the teen stole the car that he died in.

In a statement to KHON, interim Honolulu Police Chief Rade Vanic expressed surprise at the charges, noting a grand jury previously decided not to indict the officers. 

"This is highly unusual, and we are not aware of a similar action having been taken in the past," Vanic said in his statement. "While we await the court's decision, we will continue to protect and serve the community as we have always done."

The three officers have been placed on desk duty, KHON reports.

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Sykap was pronounced dead at the scene, after being shot in the head, the neck, upper back and left arm.

His brother survived the shooting, after being struck in the right shoulder and right hand.

Sykap's family sued the department, alleging negligence, assault and battery.

They seek unspecified monetary damages, as well as a declaration that the officers' use of deadly force was unlawful and unauthorized.