Police body camera footage shows that when Honolulu police officers arrived to a call about an alleged burglary in Nuuanu on Wednesday, they ordered a man to the ground, physically struggled with him and attempted to Taser him before ultimately shooting him to death.
It all happened in less than a minute around 8 p.m. It’s dark, and often hard to discern what is happening.
The Honolulu Police Department released the footage to the media on Friday afternoon from two of the three responding officers’ body cameras. One of the officers didn’t activate his camera until after the shooting, Acting Deputy Chief Allan Nagata said. The video contains only the portions that are “relevant” and “contain the actual assault,” Nagata said.
Police are investigating the incident, he said. When it is complete, the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s office will review it, as will the Law Enforcement Officer Independent Review Board, although the latter is practically inactive.
The man killed by officers was identified by the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s office on Friday as 29-year-old Lindani Myeni.
Officers were responding to a call from a “distraught female” reporting an “unknown male in her home,” Nagata said.
The video from the first responding officer shows a woman, audibly upset, yelling “That’s him!” and pointing the officer toward a man in her driveway.
The officer’s flashlight illuminates Myeni and the officer raises his gun, yelling, “Get on the ground now!” He repeats the order several times.
Another officer approaches from behind Myeni, and Myeni walks toward the first officer.
A struggle ensues, and it’s unclear from the video what exactly is happening. Someone uses profanity, which is bleeped out on the video.
According to Nagata, Myeni attacked the first officer, and a third responding officer issued a Taser warning, which produced a beeping sound on the video. He then deployed it, but “it was ineffective,” Nagata said.
The video then shows two men – Myeni and the third police officer, according to Nagata – having a physical confrontation. Nagata said Myeni was assaulting the officer.
Myeni then “charges” at the first officer, Nagata said. The video shows the first officer pointing his gun, and a single gunshot can be heard.
According to HPD, he shot and missed. In the video, there is another brief struggle.
Nagata said Myeni tackled the officer to the ground and punched him several times in the face and head, causing him to briefly lose consciousness.
The second officer then fired three rounds at Myeni, Nagata said. The gunfire can be heard on the video.
Finally, an officer yells, “Police!” and the video ends.
The second video – taken from the third responding officer’s camera – shows him arriving and running up to a physical struggle. He yells “Taser!” several times and his flashlight illuminates Myeni, who can be seen throwing punches at an officer.
Myeni then appears to come toward the third officer as the Taser makes ticking noises. The officer appears to be on the ground and HPD said Myeni was physically attacking him.
A gunshot is heard, then the officer gets up. The video then shows Myeni punching an officer who is on the ground before the three gunshots are heard and an officer yells, “Police!”
Officers Didn’t Announce Themselves
The footage shows none of the officers identified themselves as police upon arrival to the scene. But Nagata said the man they shot must have known it was police officers approaching him – even with the first arriving officer shining a flashlight in his face.
“They didn’t identify themselves, but hey, let’s be honest. They’re in uniform, right? They’re coming there with the police cars. And they told him: Get on the ground,” Nagata said. “They have their radio, their uniform. Although it is dark, it’s pretty clear.”
The officers drove both marked vehicles and an unmarked vehicle parked off the property, Nagata said.
Nagata said he was proud of the officer’s conduct.
“They were in the fight for their lives, let me be clear with you,” Nagata said. “As a result of this, they did very well. They were very brave, and they fought for their lives. I was very impressed with what they did. They didn’t shoot or discharge a firearm right away. This was not a case of overreaction.”
As an officer with over 30 years on the force, Nagata said he was “frightened” when he saw the footage.
“And I’m glad they survived,” he said. “I would’ve done the same thing, and I commend them for what they did.”
One officer remains hospitalized with “some bad injuries,” Nagata said.
Nagata referred to the call as “a felony case” of burglary. However, police have yet to provide any evidence or even allege that Myeni did anything but enter a Coelho Way home.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Mayor Rick Blangiardi declined to take a position on the officers’ conduct.
“In the spirit of transparency I support the police department’s decision to release the body cam video,” he said. “However, I am waiting for a formal debrief on this incident, which I have requested from Chief Ballard, before I make any additional comments.”
The department hasn’t offered any indication of when body camera footage will be released on last week’s police shooting of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap. That incident involved many more officers and produced more footage that must be reviewed, and special consideration must be made for minors’ privacy rights, said HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
Not a subscription
Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service.
That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.