Jul. 7—Attorneys representing three Honolulu police officers charged in the fatal shooting of a 16-year-old Micronesian teenager who led police on a high-speed pursuit after a two-day crime spree are seeking to have the allegations dismissed.
The charges of second-degree murder against officer Geoffrey H.L. Thom, 42, a five-year veteran of the force, and second-degree attempted murder against Zackary K. Ah Nee, 26, a three-year HPD veteran, and his partner Christopher J. Fredeluces, 40, who has 10 years of service with the department, should be dismissed with prejudice because prosecuting them by way of a complaint and preliminary hearing after an Oahu grand jury declined to return a true bill is "statutorily and constitutionally impermissible, " according to the motion filed Tuesday by attorney Thomas M. Otake, who represents Ah Nee.
"The whole point of the grand jury system is to provide protections to our citizens from the immense powers of the prosecuting attorney. The grand jury, made up of our citizens, cannot be a check on that power if the prosecutor is allowed to circumvent the grand jury's will. As Mr. Alm correctly states, 'no one is above the law.' That includes prosecutors, and this motion makes clear the law does not allow prosecutors to proceed this way, " Otake told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a statement.
Citing specific statutes of the Hawaii Constitution, the officers have the right not be tried and punished absent a grand jury indictment in this matter, according to the motion.
"The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney is reviewing the motion and will respond in court as appropriate, " Matthew S. Dvonch, an attorney and spokesman for Prosecuting Attorney Steven S. Alm, told the Star-Advertiser.
Richard H.S. Sing, who represents Thom and Crystal K. Glendon, counsel for Fredeluces, filed notice of joinders shortly after Otake filed Tuesday.
On Friday a judge granted a motion filed by the trio's attorneys to disclose the transcript of the June 9 Oahu grand jury proceedings when jurists declined to indict Thom, Ah Nee and Fredeluces.
"A preliminary hearing on the State's complaint is scheduled to occur on July 20, 2021. At that preliminary hearing, the State will take a second bite at the apple, taking advantage of a second opportunity, before a different decision-maker, to demonstrate that its evidence establishes probable cause to prosecute Officer Ah Nee on a charge of attempted second-degree murder of Mark Sykap. Having failed to convince a panel of grand jurors as to probable cause, the State now sets its sights on convincing just one person, the district court judge presiding over the July 20th preliminary hearing, as to probable cause—a sequence of events and an unusual procedural process that seems inherently suspect, " Otake wrote in his filing.
The officers believed that 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap, his brother Mark and others were in a stolen white Honda and committed an armed robbery, during which a firearm was brandished, about a half-hour before they led officers on the high-speed chase, according to the filing. They engaged the occupants of the vehicle with the understanding they committed other violent and reckless offenses, both during the high-speed chase and in days preceding it.
Iremamber Sykap was killed April 5 after Thom allegedly fired 10 rounds into the rear window of the Civic as it sat idling on Kalakaua Avenue near Philip Street. Eight of Thom's shots hit Sykap, according to the criminal complaint.
If convicted, Thom will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Ah Nee and Fredeluces were both charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder. Fredeluces fired into the driver's-side door above the handle, according to the complaint.
After the initial volley of shots, the Civic lurched forward and struck Ah Nee's patrol car. Ah Nee fired four shots into the car as it went over the sidewalk, through a fence and into a canal. The rounds hit Sykap's brother Mark, according to court documents.
If convicted, Ah Nee and Fredeluces face mandatory sentences of life in prison with the possibility of parole.