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HPD, SHOPO praise judge’s decision; Sykap family ‘upset’ in light of ruling, attorney says

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 9:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Department along with the police union praised District Court Judge William Domingo’s decision not to bring the case of 3 HPD officers accused of murder to trial.

HPD supporters outside the Downtown Honolulu courthouse cheered after the culmination of the lengthy preliminary hearing.

“We’re grateful for what the judge decided and it just proves that our officers made the right decision. We put our lives on the line every day and we relied on our training — and the circumstances that happened, they made the right decisions,” SHOPO President Malcolm Lutu said.

HPD’s Interim Chief Rade Vanic also issued a statement saying, “We are pleased with today’s decision. This has been challenging for our officers, the department and many in our community. Throughout this time, our officers have continued to serve with pride and professionalism. I thank the HPD ohana for their support.”

Attorneys for the three officers — Geoffrey Thom, Christopher Fredeluces and Zackary Ah Nee — presented written statements to the media, expressing their gratitude for community support leading up to the judge’s decision.

The statements on behalf of officers Ah Nee and Fredeluces read in part, “It is continued hope that the community can recognize that supporting the officers and understanding their actions can coexist with a feeing of deep sympathy for the loss of the Sykap family.”

Another statement on behalf of officer Thom ended with, “Now that the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney has failed before both the grand jury and the court, we hope that these baseless accusations will never be repeated.”

Meanwhile the attorney for the Sykap family said Wednesday’s ruling left them “upset,” insisting Iremamber posed no threat to officers.

“They are upset and do not understand why the officers will not face a criminal trial for shooting a 16-year-old boy in the back eight times when he posed no actual threat to them. I have explained to them that this ruling in the criminal case has no impact whatsoever on our litigation and certainly cannot be justified based upon the standards that apply to the claims we will now be pursuing,” attorney Eric Seitz said.

Also weighing in was Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi who hoped the larger community would be able to look to the future now that the case has concluded for the time being. Prosecutors still have the option to appeal.

“I support our police officers, who face difficult and potentially split second decisions each day they put on their uniform. While I do not involve my office in court proceedings, I am confident the facts in this case were fully vetted and the appropriate conclusion was reached. I understand this case was very difficult for everyone involved and I hope our community is able to heal and move forward,” Mayor Blangiardi’s statement said.

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