A lawyer for the couple whose vacation rental Lindani Myeni entered, leading to Myeni’s shooting by Honolulu police a short time later, said the South African man was behaving bizarrely, roaming the house and making odd comments, such as that he owned the homeowner’s cat.
The attorney, Scot Brower, said that the account given by Sabine and Dexter Wang, a Chinese couple visiting from New Jersey in April, undermines the theory presented by widow Lindsay Myeni and her lawyer, Jim Bickerton, that Myeni walked into the Coelho Way house in Nuuanu thinking that it was a nearby temple and left apologetically when asked.
Bickerton has characterized Sabine Wang’s frantic 911 call as an escalation of a misunderstanding.
“The moment he’s out the door, she starts the wailing, the breast-beating and the drama,” Bickerton said earlier this week.
Brower says Sabine Wang had good reason to be fearful.
Myeni drove behind the Wangs into the driveway of their vacation rental, followed them into the house and wouldn’t leave for several minutes despite their requests, said Brower, who also is representing homeowner James Hall.
“He had no permission to be in that house,” he said.
Bickerton has said that Dexter Wang can be heard in the background of the 911 call referring to a temple, but Brower disputes that.
“The word ‘temple’ never came up that night,” Brower said.
Brower claims Myeni behaved strangely – walking down the hallway and “rummaging” through things in nearby rooms – and made several odd comments, including that he lived in the house, owned the cat that lived there and said, “I have a video on you. You know why I’m here.”
There is no recording to corroborate those statements, and English is not the couple’s first language, Brower said. Myeni spoke with a South African accent.
Still, Brower said his clients are fluent English speakers and are confident in what they heard.
“There was no miscommunication,” he said. “There was no misunderstanding.”
Bickerton said that when the Wangs were deposed in a wrongful death lawsuit he filed on behalf of Lindsay Myeni, they insisted on having a Mandarin interpreter available to translate.
“There was plainly a language barrier,” he said. But he declined to speculate on whether the Wangs misunderstood what Myeni said.
The Honolulu Police Department has declined to release police reports from the night of Myeni’s death, citing open investigations by HPD and Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm’s office.
Brower said he doesn’t have the police reports.
Soon after the incident, Brower said his clients filed a complaint to the FBI.
“They thought that they were targeted, and they felt it was related to them being Asian,” he said. “That’s the belief that they have in their mind with all this news that you hear out there about people being targeted.”
From Bickerton’s perspective, the Wangs’ story does not justify the actions of police officers who killed Myeni.
Police approached Myeni in a dark driveway and ordered him to the ground, body camera footage shows. Myeni, a former rugby player, attacked them – asking twice “Who are you?” – before an officer shot him.
“Nothing that Mr. Brower said can explain why the police would point a flashlight in someone’s eyes at night and say ‘Get on the ground’ without mentioning that they were police officers,” he said. “There were no blue lights on, no sirens, and the lights are blinding.”
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