No Charges for Honolulu Police Officers Who Fatally Shot South African Man

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The decease of Lindani Myeni became a origin célèbre successful South Africa, intensifying disapproval determination of racism successful the United States and a feeling of solidarity with African Americans.

Lindani Myeni connected  a formation  successful  Hawaii with his woman  and 2  children.
Credit...Bickerton Law Group, via Associated Press

July 1, 2021

Three Honolulu constabulary officers volition not look transgression charges successful the fatal shooting of a South African rugby subordinate whose decease became a cause célèbre successful South Africa and intensified disapproval determination of constabulary killings of Black radical successful the United States, prosecutors said this week.

The shooting, which took spot conscionable aft 8 p.m. connected April 14, came aft the man, Lindani Myeni, 29, who was Black, followed a mates helium did not cognize into a suburban location successful Honolulu and past attacked the constabulary officers who responded to a 911 call, Honolulu’s prosecuting attorney, Steven S. Alm, said astatine a quality league connected Wednesday.

The officers were justified successful utilizing deadly force, Mr. Alm said, due to the fact that Mr. Myeni repeatedly punched and kicked 1 of the officers who had pointed a weapon astatine him and had told him to get connected the ground, leaving the serviceman with aggregate look fractures and a superior concussion.

Mr. Alm said 2 different officers had tried to halt Mr. Myeni by tackling him and utilizing a Taser earlier the serviceman who had been attacked changeable Mr. Myeni erstwhile successful the chest.

Even aft that shot, Mr. Myeni continued to punch the serviceman earlier different serviceman changeable Mr. Myeni 3 times, hitting him successful the thorax and leg, Mr. Alm said. Mr. Myeni, who was not armed, died that nighttime of aggregate gunshot wounds, Mr. Alm said.

Mr. Alm identified the officers lone arsenic Officers 1, 2 and 3 astatine the quality conference, wherever helium showed body-camera footage of the confrontation. He said each 3 officers had utilized “multiple nonlethal, nondeadly unit techniques to power Mr. Myeni earlier they utilized their work firearms.”

“We did not spot immoderate grounds that contention played immoderate portion successful this full incident,” Mr. Alm added.

Bridget G. Morgan-Bickerton, a lawyer for Mr. Myeni’s widow, Lindsay Myeni, who grew up successful Hawaii, said she was “very disappointed” successful the determination not to complaint the officers, which she called “rash and irrational.”

She said that Mr. Alm’s probe had failed to code the “elephant successful the room,” which was the officers’ nonaccomplishment to place themselves arsenic the constabulary earlier they changeable Mr. Myeni. She said that showed “there is simply a antithetic acceptable of rules for Black people.”

“Not erstwhile did immoderate of the officers accidental ‘police’ oregon authorities their concern until aft each azygous changeable was fired,” Ms. Morgan-Bickerton said. Mr. Alm, she said, “jumped to the presumption that Lindani knew they were police,” adjacent though it was “pitch black” that nighttime and Mr. Myeni had asked the officers, “Who are you?”

She said the determination would not impact a pending wrongful-death suit that Ms. Myeni has filed successful authorities tribunal against the metropolis and region of Honolulu.

Mr. Alm said the officers did not person to place themselves arsenic the police, saying they were easy recognizable nether the “bright” streetlights successful the area.

“There was nary request due to the fact that it was evident they were police,” Mr. Alm said. “They were successful uniform. They could spot him. He could spot them.”

Rade Vanic, interim main of the Honolulu Police Department, said successful a statement: “We spell to large lengths to support our community, but the tragic world is that, successful uncommon cases, incidents whitethorn extremity successful the nonaccomplishment of a life. We are thankful that 2 of our officers were capable to instrumentality to work, and we proceed to enactment our 3rd serviceman arsenic helium recovers from his injuries.”

The decease of Mr. Myeni, a nonrecreational rugby subordinate who had 2 young children with Ms. Myeni, prompted outrage, grief and calls for justness successful South Africa.

When his plastic-wrapped coffin arrived astatine the airdrome successful Johannesburg successful May, a younker contingent from the African National Congress enactment waved a “Black Lives Matter” banner emblazoned with his smiling face.

Media outlets successful South Africa broadcast Mr. Myeni’s ceremonial and replayed the harrowing 911 telephone that captured his death. His sanction was invoked alongside those of different African immigrants killed by the constabulary successful the United States, including Amadou Diallo, a Guinean migrant killed successful New York successful 1999.

The Rev. Al Sharpton had besides condemned the shooting, calling it different illustration of the constabulary wrongfully sidesplitting an unarmed Black man.

Mr. Alm said that 2 days earlier the shooting, Mr. Myeni had told his kickboxing teacher that helium was going done “crazy African spiritual stuff.” And conscionable earlier helium was killed, helium was behaving successful a mode that was “strange, adjacent bizarre,” Mr. Alm said.

About 20 minutes earlier the shooting, Mr. Myeni approached respective officers who were investigating a car break-in and the proprietor of the car, who told him to spell away, Mr. Alm said. He asked 1 of the officers for wealth for nutrient and asked to get into the backmost of a constabulary car, Mr. Alm said.

Mr. Myeni past drove successful his car to a adjacent location and followed a hubby and woman inside, Mr. Alm said. He told the woman: “I person videos of you; you cognize wherefore I’m here,” according to Mr. Alm, who said Mr. Myeni did not cognize the couple.

According to Mr. Alm’s office, erstwhile the pistillate threatened to telephone 911, Mr. Myeni, who was wearing a feathered headband, said: “Tell them I’m from South Africa. I’m connected a hunt. I’m connected safari.” He past lowered his headband and said, “We’re hunting; there’s nary time,” Mr. Alm said.

Mr. Myeni told the mates that helium was not acrophobic of the police, and the pistillate called 911. The archetypal serviceman to get recovered Mr. Myeni extracurricular the home. He pointed his weapon astatine Mr. Myeni and yelled: “Get connected the ground! Get connected the crushed now!,” according to Mr. Alm.

Mr. Myeni, however, walked up to the serviceman and, without warning, punched him successful the look and kicked him, Mr. Alm said. Another serviceman fired a Taser, but 1 of the probes missed Mr. Myeni, Mr. Alm said. A 3rd serviceman tried unsuccessfully to drawback Mr. Myeni and propulsion him to the ground, Mr. Alm said.

Mr. Myeni past attacked the archetypal serviceman who had pointed the weapon astatine him, punching him repeatedly earlier the serviceman changeable him successful the chest, Mr. Alm said. As Mr. Myeni continued to punch the officer, the serviceman who had tried to tackle him pulled retired his gun, told Mr. Myeni to “stop” and past changeable him 3 times, Mr. Alm said.

Mr. Alm’s determination not to complaint the officers came conscionable weeks aft he charged a Honolulu constabulary officer, Geoffrey H.L. Thom, with second-degree execution successful what prosecutors called the unjustified fatal shooting of a 16-year-old lad aft a high-speed pursuit successful April. Two different officers were charged with second-degree attempted execution for their roles successful the confrontation.

“I deliberation we’ve shown from what happened truthful acold successful the satellite that we instrumentality each of these cases wholly independently,” Mr. Alm said.

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