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Retired HPD trainer says officers in Sykap shooting case put themselves, others in danger

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 5:44 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A retired Honolulu police training officer is publicly criticizing the actions of three officers involved in the shooting death of 16-year old Iremamber Sykap in April.

John Frierson retired after 26 years on the force, and more than eight of those were spent at the police training academy.

He now lives in California but the city Prosecutor’s Office flew him in last month to testify at the preliminary hearing for Officers Geoffrey Thom, Christopher Fredeluces and Zackary Ah Nee after murder and attempted murder charges were filed.

Frierson, who reviewed the body camera videos, said that even though they were cleared of the criminal charges, the officers didn’t follow their training in the McCully shooting and put themselves and others in danger.

From the moment the chase ended on April 5, he said, there were issues with the officers’ orders.

“You’ve got somebody yelling, ‘put your hands up.’ You’ve got somebody yelling, ‘don’t move you.’ It’s supposed to be one voice, clear, concise instructions,” said Frierson.

“All you heard is everybody yelling, everybody yelling something different.”

Frierson said the officers then put themselves at risk by surrounding the stolen vehicle.

Thom was in the back, Fredeluces jumped over the hood of the car to get on the driver’s side, and Ah Nee walked up to the passenger’s door.

Frierson said they knew there were multiple passengers inside who were believed to be involved in armed robberies.

“The training is designed to set up in the rear of the vehicle and then extract one suspect at a time,” Frierson said, adding that would have also protected them from the car ― seen on surveillance video jerking forward, reversing, then moving forward again.

He said officers need to get out of the way instead pf putting themselves in the path of a moving vehicle.

Another concern: Frierson said Ah Nee had his gun in one hand as he tried to open the passenger door with the other. If the passenger had charged, Frierson said there could have been a fight over the weapon.

Frierson said he was also prepared to testify about Thom firing 10 shots into the back windshield of the car, loaded with passengers.

Frierson said there could have been people not involved in the reported armed robberies inside.

“We don’t know if they got picked up,” Frierson said.

“I need to know that everybody in that vehicle is a threat before I start firing into that vehicle.”

Frierson was not allowed to testify at the preliminary hearing because the District Court judge said the defense did not have time to prepare.

He would have only been allowed to take the stand if the defense team put their own expert on first, which they did not do.

Frierson said the reason he is going public with his analysis is that he hopes the department will use the body camera videos as a training tool to help officers with future critical incidents.

Rick Sing, Thom’s attorney, said in a statement that Frierson “attempted to insert himself into the case after the preliminary hearing was well underway.”

He added: “This case was about brave officers protecting our community from dangerous fleeing felons and nothing more.”

Both the District Court judge and a grand jury found no probable cause to send the officers to trial for the charges, they were cleared and all three are back on the street.

An administrative investigation is still pending.

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