Newly released video footage shows the moments that led up to Honolulu police officers shooting and killing 29-year-old Lindani Myeni in April after a frantic woman called 911 to report that he had broken into the house where she was staying.
The video, which was made public Tuesday, comes from attorney James Bickerton, who represents Myeni’s widow, Lindsay, in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city and the police officers.
The footage is a composite of surveillance video from a Ring doorbell security camera, 911 audio recordings and newly obtained body camera footage from the officers who killed Myeni.
Bickerton obtained the evidence despite attempts by attorneys for the City & County of Honolulu to block its release until after police and prosecutors have completed their own investigation.
The video shows, among other things, Myeni apologizing to the woman who called the police and leaving her residence of his own volition. The last thing he said before police arrived was, “Sorry.”
The woman, meanwhile, is seen and heard on the Ring video crying to a 911 dispatcher, saying that she was scared. She said he was unarmed and not yelling at her or her husband.
The video then shows the woman following Myeni outside after he left. As officers arrived, she pointed at him in the dark and shouted, “That’s him! That’s him!”
“The police had three things in their possession on April 15 when they started making public statements about this case,” Bickerton said. “They had the 911 call, they had the body camera tape and they had the Ring video. They chose to release two out of the three. When you see all three together it tells a very different story.”
Honolulu police officers shot and killed Myeni on April 14 at 91 Coelho Way in Nuuanu.
The following day, then-HPD Chief Susan Ballard held a press conference in which she said the officers were responding to a report of a burglary. She said the suspect, Myeni, had entered the home and exhibited “odd behavior” before leaving and assaulting three police officers, all of whom were sent to the hospital.
Ballard said that shooting Myeni was justified because the officers’ lives were in jeopardy. The department then supplied copies of redacted body camera footage and a recording of the 911 call to the press.
On April 21, Myeni’s widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, which allowed Bickerton to subpoena more body camera footage, the 911 tape and the Ring video recording from 91 Coelho Way. Bickerton also conducted depositions with some of the main players, including James Hall, the owner of the multi-unit house, and the Chinese tourists who were staying there, Da Ju “Dexter” Wang and his wife, Shiying “Sabine” Wang, the woman who called the police.
The new information, including the Ring video footage, Bickerton said, helps support his client’s theory that Myeni went to the wrong house on April 14 while trying to find a nearby temple. The ISKCON Hawaii temple is located at 51 Coelho Way, which is adjacent to Hall’s property.
The video shows two cars pulling up to Hall’s home at 91 Coelho Way around 8 p.m. The Wangs can be seen walking into the house with Myeni following close behind while wearing a face mask and traditional Zulu headband that Bickerton said would be typical for him to put on when visiting a church or temple.
Before Myeni goes inside he does what many Hawaii residents do before stepping into someone else’s home — he takes off his shoes.
For about 40 seconds, Myeni is inside the front door as voices can be heard, although it is difficult to discern exactly what is being said.
Myeni then backs out of the house as Sabine Wang can be heard saying someone had broken into her house. During her deposition, Bickerton said, Wang said she was just pretending to call the authorities. A few seconds later she decided to dial 911 for real.
According to the audio from that call, Wang told Myeni to “please leave.” Bickerton says Dexter Wang can be heard in the background saying, “We have no temple.”
Sabine Wang told the dispatcher that Myeni had identified himself by his first name and said that he was from South Africa. When asked if he was armed or shouting, Wang told the dispatcher, “No.”
Wang can be heard crying throughout much of the phone call, even as Myeni repeatedly apologizes to her as he leaves.
“What’s wrong?” Myeni asked.
“Who are you?” Wang cried back.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Myeni responded. “I know you guys though. Can I see your phone?”
The video shows Myeni putting on his shoes and walking away into the dark as he says “sorry” one last time. The Wangs both walk outside to see if Myeni is still there.
Dexter Wang is on the phone with someone Bickerton says is the landlord, Hall. Wang tells Hall that Myeni apologized and left. Sabine Wang, meanwhile, continues to cry, telling the dispatcher, “I’m so afraid to go outside.”
As officers arrive, she directs them to Myeni.
Body camera footage shows an officer pointing a handgun in Myeni’s direction. It’s dark and the only images illuminated by the officer’s flashlight can be made out.
“Get on the ground!” the officer shouts. “Get on the ground now!”
The camera shakes as Myeni begins to fight with the officers.
“Who are you?” he yells. “Who are you?”
The video shows an officer deploying a Taser as Myeni continues to fight.
“Taser, taser, taser!” an officer cries out.
“Shoot him!” someone yells just before the first shot is fired.
“Fuck you,” another officer says as three more shots ring out. “Police!”
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm announced investigations into the police response in April. His office has not made an announcement in the Myeni case.
Last week, Alm shared that he had presented evidence to a grand jury in another incident, the police shooting of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap, but the grand jury did not return an indictment.
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