‘I want answers’: Widow of man fatally shot by police in Nuuanu files wrongful death suit

Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 10:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The widow of the man who was fatally shot by police in Nuuanu has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the cityand the three officers involved in the killing.

In a news conference Thursday, Lindsay Myeni says she’s suing because she hasn’t gotten more information from the Honolulu Police Department about the moments leading up to her husband’s death. “I want information for my peace,” she said.

Previous coverage:

HPD says Lindani Myeni was fatally shot just after 8 p.m. on April 14. That’s when officers responded to a report of a burglary in progress at a home that’s advertised as a vacation rental on Coelho Way.

Details about what actually happened before police arrived ― and whether there was ever a burglary ― still aren’t clear.

Last Friday, HPD released footage from two of the three officer’s body cameras ― each showing about 50 seconds of video.

“We have asked for the full 911 tapes. We have asked for the computer-assisted dispatch tapes (that would reveal) what the police officers were saying to each other and to the dispatchers,” said attorney Jim Bickerton. “We have asked for the complete body cam tapes. Not just the 50 seconds HPD chose to show. And it has been ... crickets.”

The lawsuit claims race influenced the people who called 911 to report Myeni was in the house and the officers’ response to him when they arrived. It also claims Myeni likely thought he was being attacked and responded by throwing punches at police.

All three officers were hurt. One suffered serious injuries that required hospitalization.

The department has repeatedly said that the shooting was justified, and several external law enforcement experts have agreed with that conclusion.

Malcolm Lutu, president of State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers union, said the shooting was not about race. “It’s a behavior thing. It’ what the suspect chose to do to force our officers’ hands,” he said. “They fought for their lives. And you know that’s the ultimate thing that no officer wants to do is to take another’s life and that decision with them is going to last with them the rest of their lives.”

Myeni was from South Africa. His wife says they just moved to Hawaii in January and live five blocks away from where he was killed.

It’s still unclear why Myeni went to that home. There is a temple on the neighboring property but the attorney confirmed the 29-year-old had never been there.

Bickerton also mentioned during the news conference the family could be filing a second lawsuit if HPD doesn’t quickly return Myeni’s personal belongings ― like his cell phone and wedding ring.

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