Hawaii prosecutor rules no charges will be laid against Lindani Myeni killers
In April, the South African rugby player was killed by Honolulu police in a shooting captured on camera. At the time, a woman called the police screaming, saying Myeni wanted to harm her.
JOHANNESBURG - Lindani Myeni's family lawyer on Thursday confirmed that a Hawaii prosecutor won't be filing charges against any police officer involved in his fatal shooting.
In April, the South African rugby player was killed by Honolulu police in a shooting captured on camera.
At the time, a woman called the police screaming, saying Myeni wanted to harm her.
Officers responded and fired multiple shots at Myeni, whom the family lawyer said was defenseless and was not wearing his shoes. It led to a probe to determine if anyone could be held accountable, but the prosecutor has now ruled that the shooting was justified.
A newly released video of Myeni's killing raised questions around why officers failed to identify themselves while the South African was still alive.
Family lawyer Bridget Morgan Bickerton said they were deeply disappointed by the ruling.
“The prosecutor's announcement today of his decision that he will not be charging any of the officers involved in killing the Lindani Myeni was irrational; he's show that he's a politician and that his need to work with HPD on a daily basis clouded his decision to conduct an honest, fair and partial investigation,” said Bickerton.
The Bickerton Law Group said prosecuting attorney Steve Alm failed to address the first wrongful act committed against Myeni.
"Alm's focus on the shooting ignored the first action of ordering an unarmed person to lie on the ground at gunpoint. That is ordinarily the crime of terroristic threatening, kidnapping, or reckless endangering," the group's statement on Thursday read.
"Mr. Alm stated an unsupported conclusion that, because of the 'lighting', Mr. Myeni knew they were officers. Mr. Alm did not explain why the officers all had to use flashlights if the lighting was so good, or why Officer #1 says repeatedly after the shooting 'I couldn't see him', or why Mr. Myeni says 'Who are you?'. Nor did Mr. Alm report doing any forensic tests to see what a person in Mr. Myeni's position would see if a 600 lumens tactical light is shone in their direction on a moonless night. Those will be done in the civil case.
It said the cops who responded to the call did not announce themselves, therefore, there's a possibility that Myeni didn't know they were the police, adding that he asked "who are you" twice.
"The big question was whether Myeni knew they were officers, and not a private security detail of the hysterical 911 caller standing behind them who had, just minutes before, falsely pretended to report a 'break in' to someone."
The group said Alm did not address whether it was lawful for Myeni to defend himself from the unknown, armed "assailant".
"We won't comment on why he would skip over this important point, but we will definitely be dealing with it in the civil suit."
Bickerton Law Group added that the investigation did not name the officers involved in the fatal shooting: "Through our investigation, we have identified them. We have today filed papers to name the two officers who fired the shots as additional defendants in the suit."
Meanwhile, American civil rights leader Al Sharpton added his voice to widespread condemnation of the police's action.
New video footage - which Honolulu police blocked from being released - was posted on Wednesday, showing the killing of Lindani Myeni by Honolulu police from a different angle other than the police body camera, which initially emerged.
WARNING: The following clip contains strong language and scenes that may disturb some viewers
CW: graphic police violence.Justice for Lindani Myeni (@Justice4Lindani) June 15, 2021
New video of evidence not released to public until now! On Apr 14, Honolulu Police killed Lindani Myeni, an unarmed man. HPD held evidence until judge released. Video contains security cam footage showing very different story.https://t.co/5YMbb0Doup
The new evidence video clearly shows that Lindani Myeni intended to go to the IKCSON Temple but he was at the wrong address next door. Its a reasonable mistake in the dark. He removed his shoes and wore his ceremonial headdress. he was polite. The 911 caller Sabine Wang lied. pic.twitter.com/BJK2oRDKwuJustice for Lindani Myeni (@Justice4Lindani) June 15, 2021