HPD releases audio of 911 call that led to fatal police shooting of 29-year-old man in Nuuanu

Updated: May. 1, 2021 at 5:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - HPD has released the 911 call that prompted officers to respond to a Nuuanu home earlier this month, where they encountered a man they fatally shot.

The call begins at about 8:10 p.m. on April 14, when a woman called to report that a man had entered her home on Coelho Way.

She initially sounds relatively calm and says the man is “wandering” in the house and doesn’t have any weapons.

“I don’t know what he needs,” she says.

But as the call progresses, she gets more distraught and frantic.

It takes a little more than five minutes for officers to arrive at the scene.

While the 911 call does underscore the confusion of that night, it also appears to offer few answers to lingering questions in the case, including: What was 29-year-old Lindani Myeni ― the man police fatally shot ― doing in the house if he wasn’t trying to burglarize it?

HPD’s release of the audio comes two weeks after the shooting. Here’s the full audio:

The department previously released police body cam footage of the incident.

Police department brass have said the shooting was justified because Myeni attacked officers, throwing punches after he was ordered to get on the ground. One of the officers sustained serious injuries.

HPD has also noted that they believed officers were responding to a burglary in progress based on the caller’s description of events and her agitation.

But, the word “burglary” isn’t heard until five and a half minutes into the call — immediately after shots were fired.

Myeni’s family and their attorneys have noted that Myeni was unarmed and that police didn’t identify themselves as officers in the home’s dark driveway until after shots were fired.

The 911 call released Friday lasts for more than 10 minutes and begins relatively calmly.

In the early moments of the call, the caller ― who has a language barrier and at points doesn’t seem to understand the dispatcher’s questions ― can be heard telling someone, “Please, please leave! Please!”

She then gives the dispatcher her address and name and says, “Someone has entered my house.”

When asked if she knows who the person is, the woman says, “He says he’s Lindan, he’s from South Africa.” She also tells the dispatcher that she doesn’t know who he is, and later adds, “I don’t know if he knows our owner or not.”

When the dispatcher asks, “Does he have any weapons in his hands, like guns, knife, bat, stick,” the woman says no.

As the minutes pass, the caller becomes more and more agitated. She starts crying and breathing erratically. When the dispatcher asks if she can go outside and meet the officer, the caller says she can’t because Myeni is apparently near the front door.

The call also includes the moments when police arrive.

An officer can be heard shouting at the woman ― who police body cam footage show she was at the front door at that point ― and she tells him, “That’s him! That’s him! That’s him!”

The woman heads back into the house and then can be heard reacting to what’s going on outside ― as officers shout at Myeni to get on the ground, as he begins attacking them and as shots are fired.

At the sound of gunfire, the dispatcher says, “Oh my God!” and then “shots fired!”

During most of the call, a man who is not Myeni can also be heard speaking. The caller later describes the man as her husband, but what he is telling her throughout the call is mostly inaudible.

Myeni family attorney Jim Bickerton said the recording shows the husband was talking with Myeni while the wife was on the phone.

“No one was yelling at him,” said Bickerton. “The conversation with the husband in the background is in a normal tone. We’ll have that enhanced and we’ll listen to it.”

After the shooting, the dispatcher urges the caller to go outside and speak to officers. Her response: “I’m so terrified.” She then begins addressing an officer on scene and the dispatcher hangs up.

HNN law enforcement expert Tommy Aiu said because of the woman’s level of fear, police believed they were responding to a burglary in progress.

“Police will arrive without the lights and sirens because to do so would alert the suspect in the house. It could create more of a danger for the occupants,” said Aiu.

But Bickerton says the recording shows that Myeni had identified himself to the residents.

“The police came without lights, without sirens in an attempt to catch a, quote, ‘burglar,’” said Bickerton. “What sort of burglar drives up in his car and says who he is and where he’s from?”

Myeni’s widow is now in his native South Africa, where his body was scheduled to arrive Friday. A memorial service is scheduled for May 6 with a burial two days later.

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