Black Hawaii Dad Killed By Cops Seen Apologizing For Mistaking Couple’s Home For Temple Moments Before Being Shot
The father was seen on footage apologizing and pleading his case to the couple.
June 07, 2021 at 3:29 pm
Update (June 16, 2021): Home surveillance footage has been released in an officer-involved shooting of a South African man living in Honolulu earlier this month.
In a Ring doorbell recording obtained by his family’s lawyers, Lindani Myeni can be seen walking up to an estate and taking a moment to take off his shoes, according to ABC News. Seconds later, an Asian couple, detailed in court papers as tourists, arrived at the multi-unit building. Less than a minute passes after he enters and subsequently exits the house, appearing apologetic for confusing the occupants.
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In the Ring video, a woman is later heard on a call to 911, saying, “he break in my house,” as Myeni tries to plead his case and deescalate the situation outside of the property.
On the call to 911, the woman can be heard instructing the operator that the Black man didn’t appear to have any weapons in his possession and was not aggressive toward her or her husband.
Later in the video, the 29-year-old man can be observed apologizing to the couple multiple times, pleading with them that, “I know you guys though.” Myeni then walks to the space where he left his shoes and puts them on. While trying to leave, he utters one final apology.
According to the Associated Press, a physical altercation with Myeni ensued when police arrived and he was fatally shot by responding officers, one of whom said he received a concussion as a result of the scuffle.
In a statement from Myeni family lawyers, the attorneys contend that Honolulu police “tried to convince the public that this was a burglary and that Lindani Myeni was acting erratically, but the doorbell video we have now obtained from the owner shows that HPD knew all along these stories were untrue.”
The man’s wife, Lindsay Myeni, says that the police handling of the incident was “motivated by racial discrimination towards people of Mr. Myeni’s African descent” and has filed a lawsuit against the city.
Lindsay said that she spoke with her husband earlier that day and believes he mistook the residence for a Hare Krishna temple located not far from the Asian couple’s residence. With Lindani clearly wearing his umqhele, a traditional Zulu headband, and paying his respects by taking his shoes off at the door, Lindsay believes it’s evident that he entered the home by mistake.
“We never thought anything like this would ever happen there,” Lindsay said, according to The Atlanta Blackstar. Following the tragedy, the distressed woman said she “broke up with my country and my state” and “just can’t fathom” returning there anytime soon.
She has since moved to South Africa, where she plans to apply for permanent residency.
Original (June 7, 2021): An interracial couple, Lindani Myeni and his wife, Lindsay Myeni, moved from their home in South Africa to Hawaii seeking a safe environment to raise their family. Tragically, just three months later, Lindani was killed by a Hawaiian police officer.
The couple relocated to Honolulu from Denver in January.
“We never thought anything like this would ever happen there,” Lindsay, who is white, told the Associated Press
According to the police department, a person called first responders after Lindani entered a house that wasn't his, US News reported. Outside of the house, officials said he refused numerous commands and warnings to get on the ground and physically assaulted officers, leaving one with a concussion.
Lindsay believes that her husband mistook the home for a Hare Kristna temple next door after visiting several culturally significant places throughout the day. She added that her husband may have been seeking spiritual guidance when entering what he thought was a temple, according to ABC News.
As evidence, the police released two short videos that were captured from body cameras during the incident which took place at night. During the footage, three shots can be heard, and afterward, an officer yelled, “Police.”
At the time of his death, Lindani was wearing his umqhele, a traditional Zulu headband, his wife said. By taking his shoes off at the door, the acts were meant to display his respectful intentions, she continued.
Lindsay filed a wrongful death suit against Honolulu alleging police were “motivated by racial discrimination towards people of Mr. Myeni’s African descent.”
“Whereas if it was someone who people knew for a long period of time who got shot or killed, I think there might be more outrage because they would have been neighbors, gone to the same church,” Daphne Barbee-Wooten, former president of the African American Lawyers Association of Hawaii, said.
“And I think a lot of African Americans who live here are outraged,” she argued. “But do they take to the street about it? Not really.”
Ethan Caldwell, who’s of Black and Asian descent and is also an assistant professor of ethnic studies at the University of Hawaii, offered several reasons why no mass protests were held in response to the tragedy.
“We may not necessarily feel the same level of racism, anti-Blackness, discrimination, prejudice here as we do on the continent, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t face micro-aggressions on a daily basis, more so for some people,” Caldwell said.
“I think some people might be more willing to deal with those because it doesn't necessarily mean that their lives are at-risk," he added.
Caldwell recalled business boarding up their establishments during a peaceful Black Lives Matter march last summer.
Susan Ballard, a retired police chief who is white, believes that the incident wasn’t driven by any racial biases but by Lindani's erratic behavior. “This person seriously injured the officers and their lives were in jeopardy,” she said, according to WJTV.
Before his death, Lindsay remembered that her husband didn’t have any encounters with racism while a resident in Hawaii.
“And people are warm and friendly and they’re outgoing,” she said. “And all the things he loved about South Africa, Hawaii has a lot of those.”