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The 3 Honolulu officers charged for teen’s murder remain out of jail. Here’s why

Image from the scene of the shooting April 5.
Image from the scene of the shooting April 5.(HNN)
Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 2:54 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 3:13 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The three officers charged for murder in the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap are expected to make their initial court appearance June 25.

On Tuesday, Officer Geoffrey Thom was charged with one count of second-degree murder, while officers Zackary Ah Nee and Christopher Fredeluces were charged with attempted murder.

But they remain out of jail, at least until their initial court appearance at the end of the month.

Why?

The city Prosecutor’s Office said the court has the option to issue either a warrant of arrest, or a penal summons. In this case, a penal summons was issued, meaning the officers are given a date to appear in court and an arrest is not made before that point.

There are several factors that go into the decision of the court selecting either a warrant of arrest or penal summons:

  • A defendant’s criminal history: Thom, Ah Nee and Fredeluces lack a criminal record prior to this incident, and may not be considered an imminent threat to the public, especially because they are officers with the Honolulu Police Department.
  • Flight risk: Penal summons are often issued when the defendant isn’t considered an immediate flight risk.
  • Judge’s approval: For prosecutors to secure an arrest warrant, it would need to be signed off by a judge. Earlier this month, a grand jury declined to indict the three officers, meaning in their view, the officers responded within reason. If prosecutors sought an arrest warrant, there was a risk a judge could’ve denied it based on a lack of an indictment, and the above factors. Securing a judge’s approval to arrest is also a slightly lengthier process.

If convicted on the charges against them, the minimum sentence they face is 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole due to the semi-automatic firearms used in the shooting. The maximum sentence they face could be life behind bars with the possibility of parole.

On Tuesday, HPD removed police powers for Thom, Ah Nee and Fredeluces, and they have been reassigned to desk duty.

Between the three officers combined, they share 18 years of experience with the force.

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