Police union: Grand jury made the right call in not indicting officers in fatal shooting of teen
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii’s police union says it supports a state grand jury’s decision Wednesday to decline to indict three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a teen.
“We are protecting our communities. I believe in the process, and I believe in the training our officers go through to make these hard decisions,” said Malcolm Lutu, SHOPO president, in a news conference Thursday morning.
Lutu said the media tends to report crimes being more violent in the public, but “what’s not being said is the violent crimes being done to our officers who are trying to address and protect our communities.”
Added Nicholas Schlapak, chair of SHOPO’s Honolulu chapter:
“The decision made by the jury reinforced the actions of our member officers on the day in question. The totality of the circumstances were taken into account, rather than misleading sensationalism.”
Meanwhile, the Honolulu Police Department said in a statement that an administrative investigation into the officers’ actions is ongoing and they could still be subject to disciplinary action.
When asked if the police union was in favor of disciplinary actions taken against officers, Lutu said, “we’re never in favor of disciplinary action, especially if the officer is right and doing in his job.”
Sixteen-year old Iremamber Sykap was killed in the April shooting. He was shot in the back of the head and shoulder, according to medical records.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the city Prosecutor’s Office confirmed that it presented evidence to an Oahu grand jury seeking indictments of the three officers.
City Prosecutor Steve Alm’s move to indict the officers indicates his office has concluded the teen’s shooting was not justified.
However, Alm has not yet spoken publicly, including to say whether he plans to go back to another grand jury on the matter.
Police body camera video obtained by Hawaii News Now shows one of the officers shooting ten rounds into the back of the car.
Civil rights attorneys urged Alm to release the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings, as well as the body camera video of the two other officers who fired the shots.
“We don’t know the circumstances which Mr. Alm sought to indict these officers. And more importantly, what evidence and what witnesses he relied on,” said Wookie Kim, legal director for the ACLU of Hawaii.
“A prosecutor can always go back and try to reindict.”
Added Eric Seitz, attorney for the Sykap family:
“Everything about the way this was handled and the lack of transparency raises red flags and until we get a transcript about what happened at the grand jury, we’re not going to know if this was a legitimate effort or not.”
“(But) when Mr Lutu says as far as he’s concerned he never supports discipline, that should be a tip off to this community that the police don’t care about what standards they adhere to and don’t believe they have any community responsibilities.”
This story will be updated.
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