HONOLULU (KHON2) — A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed a week after Honolulu police fatally shot 29-year-old Lindani Myeni, an unarmed Black man.
Myeni’s wife, Lindsay, is suing the City and County of Honolulu and the unknown police officers who killed him. The lawsuit says responding officers were motivated by racial discrimination.
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“The last thing I wanted to do was to have to go to court just a week after Lindani’s death, but our requests for information have been ignored,” Lindsay said in a statement. “I trust that asking a jury of our peers to look at this case will help us get the information we need and the justice Lindani deserves.”
According to police, Lindani walked into a home on Coelho Way where he sat down and took off his shoes, prompting frightened occupants to call 911.
During a news conference on Thursday, April 22, Lindsay’s attorney, Jim Bickerton, said the home in question is a public accommodation, a place that’s advertised on Airbnb and Instagram.
“Any suggestion that there was a burglary we think is just part of a plan or an operation by folks who want to try and defend their misconduct and cast him in a negative light,” Bickerton said.
Bickerton also wanted to end the narrative that Lindani attacked officers, or “unknown assailants,” who failed to identify themselves as police before shooting.
“It is true that he defended himself against the officers, as far as we can tell, but from the evidence that we have seen so far, they attacked him first,” he said.
Bickerton explained that when officers shined a powerful light in Lindani’s face and pointed a gun at him, yelling to get on the ground, “that is an assault and a use of force in the law in Hawaii” because they did not identify themselves nor announce their purpose.
Police released bodycam footage of the April 14 incident of officers responding to calls of a burglary in progress where they shot Lindani after an altercation.
Police said the footage shows Lindani attacking the officers and that they had no choice but to take action. All three officers involved were taken to the hospital. Two have been released, and the third is still being treated for multiple facial fractures as of Friday, April 16.
Honolulu police have opened an attempted murder investigation.
Bickerton said the video does not show any evidence to justify the fatal shooting.
“The Honolulu Police Department is still hiding facts,” Bickerton said in a statement. “Despite multiple requests, we have not heard the 911 tapes, the dispatch recordings, or seen the body-worn cam footage that precedes and follows the portion HPD chose to release.”
The family also wants to hear the 911 calls and other related evidence, saying the story police are telling does not align with the type of man he was.
“HPD is also holding Lindani’s phone as ‘evidence’ and will not even return his wedding ring or other personal effects to Lindani’s widow,” said Bickerton.
Police have not yet released a statement following Thursday’s news conference.
Click here to read the lawsuit.