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Oahu teen shot by police had pellet gun inside car

  • CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO ZACKARY INSTEAD OF ZACHARY - Honolulu Police Officers Geoffrey Thom, right, Christopher Fredeluces, second from right, and Zackary Ah Nee, third from right, sit in Judge William Domingo’s courtroom before a preliminary trial begins, Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Honolulu. The judge was scheduled to hear from witnesses to determine whether there is probable cause for murder and attempted murder charges against the three Honolulu police officers in a shooting that killed a 16-year-old Micronesian boy. (Cory Lum/Honolulu Civil Beat via AP, Pool)

HONOLULU — A pellet gun that looked like a firearm was found in a car driven by a 16-year-old boy in Hawaii, a police evidence specialist testified Tuesday in an ongoing hearing to determine whether there is probable cause of murder and attempted murder charges against three officers in the teen’s shooting death.

A judge began hearing testimony from witnesses last week about the April 5 shooting that killed Iremamber Sykap. Authorities said he was driving a stolen car linked to an armed robbery, burglary, purse-snatching and car theft. Sykap led officers on a chase immediately before the shooting, police said.

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The judge will decide whether there’s a reasonable basis for believing that a crime may have been committed and that the case can go forward to trial. The hearing is scheduled to resume today.

Officer Geoffrey Thom is charged with murder. Prosecutors said he fired 10 rounds at Sykap through the rear window of the car after it stopped at an intersection. Officers Zackary Ah Nee and Christopher Fredeluces, who also opened fire, are charged with second-degree attempted murder.

Prosecutors’ decision to pursue charges has been fraught. A grand jury refused to indict them, so prosecutors are seeking a judge’s determination that there’s probable cause for the charges.

A BB-caliber gun was among the items found in the car Sykap was driving, according to testimony from Michael Lynch, an evidence specialist. The pellet gun was found on the floor of the front passenger side of the car, he said.

Lynch also found two magazines, one with real ammunition and one that was empty. But there were no real firearms in the car, he said.

Sgt. Adam Lipka testified that on the day of the shooting, officers were briefed about a stolen car that was involved in a purse snatching and an armed robbery where handguns were waved out of the window as the suspects were fleeing.

About 30 minutes before the shooting, the same vehicle was involved in an armed home invasion robbery, he said.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Van Marter asked Lipka whether the suspects in the car had physically hurt anyone and Lipka said he thought there was a report of a minor injury from one of the incidents.

Thomas Otake, Ah Nee’s defense attorney, asked whether “brandishing a firearm in broad daylight during a home invasion” is considered a violent act.

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“Most definitely,” Lipka said.

Otake showed Lipka a photo of the BB-caliber handgun and asked if he could tell whether it was a real firearm. “I would not be able to tell the difference,” Lipka said.

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