Honolulu cops WON'T face charges in shooting of unarmed South African
Honolulu police WON’T face charges in fatal shooting of unarmed 29-year-old South African Idol contestant and Zulu ‘prince’: Prosecutors say force was justified and race didn’t play a role
- Honolulu City Prosecutor Steven Alm made the announcement Wednesday
- It was the result of a months-long investigation into the police shooting of South African Lindani Sanele Myeni
- Alm said there was no evidence the shooting was racially motivated
- Police were responding to a 911 call of a home invasion on April 14, after Myeni entered an Airbnb an Asian couple was renting
- Shortly after officers arrived, Myeni was shot dead amid a violent scuffle
- There was substantial evidence that Myeni was acting strangely the night of the shooting, Alm said, and was aware he was interacting with police
- Myeni continued to punch the responding officers despite being shot with a taser as well as once with a gun
- His family has sued the city for wrongful death
Three police officers in Honolulu won’t be charged for the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old unarmed Zulu ‘prince’ who also was a former contestant on South African Idol after prosecutors said their use of force was justified.
The officers had responded to the scene of a burglary call in April after the married father of two had entered a house and taken his shoes off – apparently alarming the occupants who called the police and reported him as suspicious.
When they arrived, police said they found Lindani Sanele Myeni, who is black, acting oddly: He eventually tried to open the door to a cop car and engaged in a violent scuffle, they said.
Police shot him dead. City Prosecutor Steven Alm said Wednesday they officers were justified in their shooting. He also said that after a months-long investigation, prosecutors had determined race wasn’t a factor in the shooting.
Doorbell and police bodycam camera footage had shown Myeni ignoring commands to get on the ground outside the house he entered, which was an Airbnb where an Asian couple was staying; the woman who called the police said she was worried about a recent uptick in anti-Asian crimes when Myeni showed up at the door.
The camera then shows a stun gun fired by police either malfunctioning or having no effect on Myeni.
Lindani Sanele Myeni, 29, left, a former contestant on South African Idol, was shot by Honolulu police when they responded to the scene of a break-in call. City Prosecutor Steven Alm, right, said the shooting was justified.
It also shows that an officer fired several gunshots at Myeni before identifying themselves as ‘Police!’
Myeni was taken to the hospital where he died. The exact time lapse between Myeni arriving at the Airbnb and the fatal shooting is not clear.
Alm, the prosecutor, said the situation was a tragedy, according to the Star-Advertiser.
‘A young man was killed. A family member was killed. This is serious stuff. It also ended with police officers having to kill somebody. And they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.’
Acting Deputy Police Chief Allan Nagata has acknowledged police did not initially identify themselves but said: ‘They were in the fight for their lives. They were very brave. They didn’t shoot or discharge the firearm right away. This was not a case of overreaction.’
Alm said officers tried to use non-lethal, non-deadly force before they fired.
‘Officer 1 was justified in shooting Mr. Myeni in self-defense. Officer 2 was justified in shooting Mr. Myeni in defense of another.’
The officers haven’t been named throughout the course of the investigation – or in Wednesday’s findings.
Honolulu City Prosecutor Steven Alm announced his office would not pursue charges against the officers who shot and killed unarmed 29-year-old African Idol contestant Lindani Myeni in April, saying they were justified in the shooting
Myeni on a beach in Waimanalo, Hawaii with his wife, Lindsay, and two children. Myeni, a married black father-of-two from the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa, was shot by officers responding to a 911 call of a couple who said he entered the Airbnb they were renting
Police had been responding to a 911 call on April 14 from Shiying ‘Sabine’ Wang who said Myeni had entered the Airbnb she was renting with her husband Da Ju ‘Dexter’ Wang in the Nuuanu neighborhood of Honolulu after he followed the couple in their car.
The 29-year-old’s attorney has said Myeni mistook the home for the ISKCON Hawaii Hare Krishna temple, which is next door to the Airbnb on Coelho Way. DailyMail.com contacted the temple for comment; its leaders didn’t respond.
Alm, the prosecutor, used police body camera footage from the responding officers in his presentation to indicate that they had little choice but to shoot Myeni, after attempting to subdue him by non-lethal means.
Among the findings, he noted that after the officers arrived, Myeni was acting strange and told them he ‘was not afraid’ of police, indicating that he was aware of who they were, after they told him to lie on the ground.
Alm used body camera footage from the responding officers to indicate that that the officesr had no choice to shoot Myeni. The officer yells repeatedly for Myeni to get on the ground. Shots ring out and then after a pause, an officer said, ‘police.’ Alm, however, said Myeni appeared to be aware he was dealing with law enforcement
Myeni was shot with taser and then once with a firearm, but continued to fight the officers. Alm said the officers were justified when they shot him another three times
Additionally, he said, Myeni was stronger than any one of the responding officers and was able to overpower them in the scuffle, with the most seriously injured officer suffering a concussion. He has yet to return to work.
Myeni continued to fight with the officers despite being shot with a taser and once with a firearm.
He was then shot another three times, killing him.
Myeni’s wife Lindsay Myeni, who was born in the US but met her husband while she was on missionary work in South Africa, told Hawaii News Now in April that she does not know what led him to visit the home.
Lindani Myeni, 29, a Prince from the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa and married father of two was fatally shot by police; he’s pictured with his wife, Lindsday
However, she dismissed the claims it was a burglary, describing him as the ‘most gentle person’ and suggesting different cultural norms may have meant his actions were misunderstood by the residents.
Myeni is from the Zulu Kingdom where it is customary for people to visit ‘anyone’s house’, she told the outlet.
‘In Zulu culture you can go to anyone’s house. You can knock on anyone’s door. It doesn’t matter if it’s 8 o’clock it’s not a big deal. Neighbor are neighbors,’ she said.
Lindsay added in April that the police account that he took off his shoes shows he believed he was showing the homeowners respect.
‘It says he took off his shoes. I’m sure he did that as a sign of respect,’ she told the outlet.
Lindsay said her husband had been on his way home to the house they shared with their two children just down the street from the now-crime scene.
He had been at the Pali Lookout earlier that day and seemed his usual self, she said, adding she had spoken to him less than 20 minutes before the incident unfolded.
Myeni’s death came one week after Honolulu Police officers shot and killed 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap (pictured) during a car chase on April 5
The shooting of Myeni, who is from the from the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa had drawn international attention, and had come nine days after Honolulu police shot and killed 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap.
Prosecutors had pursued charges against the officers in Sykap’s case.
Myeni’s wife, Lindsay, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, and her attorney Jim Bickerton said the announcement would not impact the civil case, and that the prosecutors’ conclusions had left many questions unanswered, Hawaii News Now reported.
‘Mr. Alm’s focus on the shooting ignored the first action of ordering an unarmed person to lie on the ground at gunpoint,’ Bickerton said in a statement. ‘When you avoid addressing the very first wrongful act committed, your analysis of what comes afterwards should not be accepted by the public.’
Meanwhile, an attorney for the woman who made the 911 call – Shiying ‘Sabine’ Wang – shared her side of the story last month with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser after he filed a complaint with the FBI on behalf of Sabine and her husband Da Ju ‘Dexter’ Wang.
The attorney, Scot S. Brower, alleged that Myeni, who was said to have mistaken the home for a temple next door, had followed the Wangs in their car that night and ran up behind them while recording video of them on his phone as they entered the Airbnb.
Lindani and Linsday Myeni with their children. He was shot by police in a shooting the city prosecutor says was justified
Myeni’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city. Their attorney on Wednesday said the prosecutors’ findings would not affect the suit
Bowser said Sabine dialed 911 because she believed Myeni was at their residence to attack them amid a string of anti-Asian hate crimes plaguing the nation.
According to Brower, footage released in April by the an attorney for Myeni’s family – which showed him repeatedly apologizing to the Wangs after entering the home – only captured part of the incident, excluding the nearly six minutes when he was inside.
During that time Brower said Myeni rummaged through two bedrooms and told the couple that he owned the home as well as the 10-year-old cat that lives there.
‘This Myeni had said to Sabine when he first arrived that “I have video on you, you know why I am here,”‘ Brower said.
‘They never recognized him before. He followed them to the house, and at some point Sabine turned around, he ducked in and tried to make it look like he was taking off his shoes. It is clear that when he ducked down it was evasive, and that’s how my client Sabine recognized it.’
Door cam footage shows 29-year-old man who was shot by police approaching home whose occupants called 911
An attorney for Myeni’s family, James J. Bickerton, obtained and released never-before-seen footage from a surveillance camera at the home, providing new details in mid June of the events that led up to the fatal encounter.
It shows Myeni, 29, following Shiying ‘Sabine’ Wang and her husband Da Ju ‘Dexter’ toward the porch of the home they were renting, taking off his shoes and entering the property after them. He appears to be calm.
He then quickly leaves after his presence appears to have confused the Airbnb occupants, repeatedly saying ‘sorry’.
Seconds later, the female occupant runs out and points Myeni out to police officers, who are responding to a 911 call about Myeni entering the property. Police bodycam footage previously released shows what happened next.
Newly-released doorcam footage has shown South Africa Idol contestant and Zulu ‘prince’ Lindani Myeni repeatedly apologizing to a couple after entering their Airbnb in Honolulu, moments before police shot him dead
It shows Myeni ignoring commands to get on the ground outside the house he entered, a stun gun fired by police either malfunctioning or having no effect on Myeni.
It also shows that an officer fired several gunshots at the black man before identifying themselves as ‘Police!’
Myeni was taken to hospital where he died. The exact time lapse between Myeni arriving at the Airbnb and the fatal shooting is not clear.
The footage released Tuesday has some lapses in time and is edited, merging parts of the doorcam, 911 call and bodycam.
Police had previously released short clips of body camera footage and the 911 call made by the female occupant of the Airbnb – but made no mention of the doorcam footage.
The family attorney claims Honolulu Police reviewed the doorcam footage on the night Myeni was shot dead and went to court to block its release.
Bickerton says Myeni mistook the home for the ISKCON Hawaii Hare Krishna temple, which is next door to the Airbnb on Coelho Way. DailyMail.com has contacted the temple for comment; its leaders didn’t immediately respond.
Myeni’s wife has previously said her husband took off his shoes as a mark of respect – as she said is customary in the Zulu Kingdom.
Following the shooting, police initially said they had responded to a home invasion. They said Myeni’s strange behavior frightened the occupants and that he violently attacked responding police officers, leaving one hospitalized with a concussion.
The couple – Shiying ‘Sabine’ Wang and her husband Da Ju ‘Dexter’ Wang – are seen walking up to the front door of the property.
Myeni is seen walking up behind them. He is wearing a face mask and his umqhele, a traditional Zulu headband
The doorbell footage begins with the lights of two vehicles pulling up outside the Airbnb at 91 Coehlo Way at 8.07pm.
The captions on the footage say that the address is next door to a temple, which has a similar semi-circular driveway and columns.
The couple – Shiying ‘Sabine’ Wang and her husband Da Ju ‘Dexter’ Wang – are seen walking up to the front door of the property.
According to depositions in the lawsuit, the man and woman were tourists staying in the multi-unit dwelling, the lawyers said. It’s not clear where the couple was visiting from.
Dexter is ahead of his wife. Myeni is then seen walking up behind them. He is wearing a face mask and his umqhele, a traditional Zulu headband.
Dexter opens the door and enters followed by Sabine, who turns and watches as Myeni stops at the porch and bends to take off his shoes.
She pauses and watches him before following her husband inside the property.
Myeni calmly stops at the porch and bends to take off his shoes before strolling in after them
Myeni slowly takes off his shoes and strolls in after them.
Voices are heard from inside the home, but they are unclear in the recording
Moments later, Myeni exits the property and stands, still wearing his mask, looking back inside.
Sabine is heard making a 911 call – although Myeni’s lawyer says the first one heard of the tape is just pretend; she doesn’t actually call 911 until a bit later.
‘Hello, someone just break in, breaking into my house… he’s in front of our door,’ she says, as Myeni stands outside.
The doorcam cuts out at this point, according to the lawyers. It is 8.09pm.
Sabine then actually called 911 and told an operator about the man: That call was recorded by 911 dispatch.
The 911 audio – which was previously released – captures Dexter in the background saying: ‘We have no temple.’
Sabine is heard saying: ‘Please leave.’
When asked who is in the property, the woman replies to say: ‘He says Lindon from South Africa.’
She adds that she does not know if the man knows the owner of the home they are renting as an Airbnb.
The operator asks if he has any weapons in his hands to which she replies, ‘No.’
She also confirms he is not yelling at them.
The footage released by the attorney moves back to the doorcam at this stage.
At this point, Myeni is seen walking back out of the property and turning to ask: ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Who are you?’ shouts Sabine, sounding more hysterical.
Myeni then repeatedly says: ‘I’m sorry.’
‘I know you guys though. May I see your phone?’ he adds.
Sabine is heard on the 911 call saying he tried to go outside.
Dexter is heard saying: ‘My wife is so afraid and I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know. He said his name is Lindon.’
The attorney said he was on the phone to the Airbnb owner James H. Hall. Hall didn’t comment.
The occupants then call 911. Myeni is then seen calmly walking out of the home repeatedly apologizing
He puts his shoes back on and walks back in the direction of his car, again apologizing: ‘Sorry’
Myeni is then seen calmly walking out of the home. He puts his shoes back on and walks back in the direction of his car, again apologizing: ‘Sorry.’
Dexter calmly walks out to see where he has gone and tells Hall: ‘He apologized and he just left.’
The video released by the family attorney shows the doorcam and the police bodycam footage side by side, giving different perspectives of the same moment and what happens next.
In the doorcam, Sabine runs out of the front door and points at Myeni in the distance saying ‘that’s him’ as the officers arrived on the scene. Neither Myeni nor the officers are visible in this footage.
In the bodycam, Sabine’s voice can be heard and the outline of a man – now known to be Myeni – is seen in front of the officer.
‘Get on the ground now,’ one officer is heard repeatedly saying.
‘Who are you? Who are you?’ Myeni asks.
Police bodycam footage previously released shows none of the officers identified themselves as police until they had already fired three gunshots at Myeni.
It was also pitch black outside at the time.
Myeni’s family say he would not have known the people shining bright lights in his eyes in the darkness were police.
He likely mistook the house for a similar looking dwelling that houses a temple next door that’s open to the public, the lawsuit said.
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