HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii-born wife of a man fatally shot by police in Nuuanu spoke out Thursday to defend his character and question if he died because of a culture clash.
“He’s the most gentle person ... and the best father,” she said of her husband, Lindani Myeni.
“We’ve got two babies under 2. I’ve got to go to sleep every night without him.”
The widow said she’s in disbelief, desperately trying to piece together her husband’s final moments.
She told HNN she last spoke to her husband at 7:52 p.m. Wednesday. She said he had been at the Pali Lookout earlier in the day and that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. But at around 8:10 p.m., police said, a homeowner called 911 to report a man had followed her into her home on Coelho Way.
Police Chief Susan Ballard said arriving officers ordered the man to get on the ground.
Instead, she said, he “charged them” and one sustained major facial injuries and remains hospitalized. She said the altercation shows the officers’ “lives were in jeopardy.”
“He was on his way home,” said Myeni’s wife. “So for whatever reason, he stopped to talk to this neighbor ― that literally is down the street from us.”
She says they didn’t know each other.
“I don’t know why he stopped at those people’s house. Obviously he wouldn’t burglarize,” she said.
“We have money. We have everything we need. We’re not looking for anything. He wanted to talk to them for some reason. It says he took off his shoes. I’m sure he did that as a sign of respect.”
The 29-year-old is from the Zulu Kingdom, a nation in South Africa. She says he has the rank of a prince, and even appeared on Idols South Africa in 2013.
The couple met there six years ago when she was on Christian mission.
“We dated, got engaged and got married before he ever came to America,” Myeni’s wife said.
“He never wanted to come to America. It was never anything he was interested in. He loves his people. He is from the Zulu tribe. They speak Zulu.”
Ballard told reporters during a news conference Thursday that after Myeni walked into the neighbor’s house she started to exhibit “odd behavior.”
His wife believes his actions may have been misinterpreted.
“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,” she said. “Neighbor are neighbors. "
After living in South Africa for three years together, the couple decided to move back to the US so she could continue her career. They made the move to Hawaii because she was born and raised on Oahu.
“We thought here we would be safe,” she said. “What am I going to tell his family back home? They trusted me to keep him safe here. What am I going to tell my son?”
Myeni and his wife just moved to the island in January. She says he was supposed to have his green card interview next week.