Reporting on the deaths of Black people at the hands of police can be exhausting, but nevertheless here we are yet again. Following the fatal shooting of 29-year-old South African rugby player Lindani Myeni a few months ago by police officers in Honolulu, Hawaii, injustice is once again at the forefront after officials decided to deem the shooting as justified without any influence of race.
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The situation that led to Myeni’s death started when he took his shoes off and entered the home of two tourists, who reacted by calling the police. Although he’s seen on RING video apologizing to the couple before leaving peacefully, additional video footage obtained displays the struggle he had afterwards with police officers that led to the fatal means of restraint on their part. It’s also worth noting that officers didn’t identify themselves as police until after shots were fired.
There’s even an explanation for why Myeni was barefoot. His wife, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit and claims the shooting was racially motivated, says he more than likely mistook the residence he entered accidentally for a similar home next door that operates as an open temple to the public.
If the details in this case have been a bit confusing so far, things get even more complicated when factoring in the behavior of Lindani Myeni hours leading up to his fatal shooting.
Take a look below at how Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm breaks down the reasoning as to why officers might’ve been let off the hook, via KHON 2:
“Alm says the bizarre string of events actually started about a half hour prior to the shooting at Kewalo Basin.
That’s where, at 7:42 pm, four other officers went to investigate a call for an unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, during which Myeni tried to intervene in the investigation, asked an officer for money for food, and tried to get into the back seat of an HPD vehicle.
After that incident, investigators say Myeni drove directly to 91 Coelho Way, where the shooting took place. Alm describes Myeni’s behavior that night as strange and bizarre. He adds that by the time Myeni fought with the three officers in Nuuanu, he should have known that they were police officers.
“Alm says Myeni’s strange behavior continued when he went inside the Nuuanu house and told the woman who was staying there, “I have videos of you. You know why I’m here.” He then said he lived in the house, and a cat that was in the house was his. Alm says Myeni stayed inside for five minutes even though she asked him to leave several times and told him she was calling the police.
“And he said, ‘Tell them I’m from South Africa. I’m on a hunt. I’m on a safari.’ He lowered his feathered headband, and he said, ‘We’re hunting and there’s no time,’” said Alm.
Alm says Myeni told her that he is not afraid of the police.
“Him saying that I’m not afraid of the police, I think it’s a glimpse into what his attitude was toward the police officers or toward the police in general,” said Alm.
He adds that the street lights were bright, so it’s easy to see that the officers had their uniforms on. He said two of the officers fired at Myeni and that the shooting was justified because they tried using non-lethal means, but Myeni kept fighting, and the officers feared for their safety.
“Even after verbal commands, a firing of a Taser, yelling about Taser, actually getting shot by Officer 1, Mr. Myeni would not stop his attack on Officer 1,” said Alm.”
Myeni’s wife still plans to follow with the lawsuit, and her attorney gave reasoning by stating, “Mr. Alm’s focus on the shooting ignored the first action of ordering an unarmed person to lie on the ground at gunpoint,” and further adding, “That is ordinarily the crime of terroristic threatening, kidnapping, or reckless endangering.”
Watch the clip below, which we warn you is quite graphic, and let us know if you think police could’ve done better to avoid killing Lindani Myeni or if he displayed behavior that left them no other choice: