HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Attorneys for the family of a man killed in a police shooting in Nuuanu last week and the ACLU of Hawaii are questioning police procedures in the incident.
Police shot and killed Lindani Myeni, 29, a former professional rugby player from South Africa, after he attacked them. The ACLU said they’re concerned that police officers didn’t identify themselves as law enforcement, which is required under state law when they arrest somebody or use deadly force.
“Had (they) done that — given what we know about the context of the situation — Mr. Myeni would not have responded in the aggressive way,” said Wookie Kim, the ACLU’s legal director.
“When you catch someone by surprise...the incident is much more likely to get out of control.”
Attorney Jim Bickerton, who represents Myeni’s family, believes officers acted the way they did because Myeni was Black.
Bickerton is calling on police to release more information, such as recordings of the 911 calls made to police and recordings of the conversations between police dispatchers and the responding officers.
“I really believe the reason the police treated him so roughly and aggressively ... and treated him like he was a common criminal is racial,” he said.
“I think had I been standing on the wrong yard and...the police came me and saw someone like me, we would hear them say ‘Sir this is the police can you tell us what you’re doing at this location.’”
But State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers president Malcom Lutu said Myeni forced them to take action when he attacked him, injuring all three responding officers.
“They fought for their lives and that’s the ultimate thing that no officer wants to do is take someone’s life,” Lutu said.
“It’s not a racial thing. It’s a behavior thing.”
Lutu said all three officers are recovering but one of them still struggles with serious injuries.