Prosecutor: Honolulu police killing of Black man justified

Jun 30, 2021, 9:22 PM | Updated: 10:53 pm

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu police officers’ use of deadly force was justified and no charges will be filed against them in a shooting that killed a Black man because an investigation found that he entered a home uninvited and physically attacked the officers, the city’s prosecuting attorney said Wednesday.

The April 14 shooting death of Lindani Myeni, 29, has drawn international attention, including from civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, at a time when police violence in other parts of the U.S. have prompted protests over racial injustice.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm said his office’s investigation refutes those who said the shooting shows that despite Hawaii’s multicultural diversity, police are racist.

“In some communities you do have the police are of one race, generally, and the people they are policing are of another race. And we don’t have that in Hawaii … police officers live among us,” he said.

While the Honolulu Police Department could be more diverse, “we didn’t find any evidence that race played a role in this case,” he said.

Two days before the shooting, Myeni told his kickboxing instructor that he was going through “crazy African spiritual stuff,” Alm said.

Myeni was a South Africa national who had recently moved to Honolulu.

About 30 minutes before the shooting, Myeni interjected himself in a situation where police were investigating a vehicle break-in and had to be told to go away by both the victim and officers, Alm said.

Myeni then asked one of the officers for money to buy food and tried to get into the back of a police car, Alm said.

From there, he drove a short distance to a home where tourists who didn’t know him were staying. Wearing a feathered headband, he followed them into the house, told the woman “I have videos of you,” claimed a cat there was his and made comments about hunting.

“His words and actions strike me as strange, even bizarre,” Alm said.

The frightened woman called 911.

Alm played officer body camera videos that showed Myeni punching responding officers, leaving one with facial fractures and a concussion. Myeni continued punching an officer even after he was shot once in the chest, Alm said.

Two officers returned to work, and one is still recovering from injuries, interim Police Chief Rade Vanic said.

“When we take our oath, we know that our work will put us in serious, dangerous and potentially deadly situations,” he said. “We go to great lengths to protect our community. But the tragic reality is that, in rare cases, incidents may end in the loss of a life.”

A lawsuit by Myeni’s widow said police were motivated by racial discrimination and that he likely mistook the house for a nearby Hare Krishna temple that is open to the public.

Alm said his investigation found no evidence for those claims.

Police tried other methods, including deploying a stun gun that wasn’t effective on Myeni, before an officer fired a volley of three shots, Alm said.

The officer who fired the three shots yelled “police” after the gunfire, but Alm said Myeni would have known they were police, and his earlier interaction with other officers showed he knew what their uniforms looked like and that he wasn’t intimidated by them.

Attorney Bridget Morgan-Bickerton, who represents Myeni’s wife, said Alm’s investigation was flawed in various ways, including not interviewing any of the officers. Alm said his office relied on police statements.

“I think the prosecutor started with a desire not to charge the officers with anything and created a narrative from there,” she said. “The prosecutor has shown he’s a politician, and that his need to work closely with HPD on a daily basis trumped his ability to conduct an honest, fair and impartial investigation.”

Alm is pursuing murder and attempted murder charges against officers in a separate shooting that killed a 16-year-old Micronesian boy.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Director Lars von Trier appears at the premiere of the film "The House That Jack Built" at t...
Associated Press

Filmmaker Lars von Trier diagnosed with Parkinson’s

Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier, known for films like “Melancholia” and “Dancer in the Dark,” has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, his production company Zentropa said Monday. The company said it released the information in order to avoid speculation about his health leading up to the premiere of his series “The Kingdom Exodus” at the […]
14 hours ago
FILE - A rocket is launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, in Gaza City, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022....
Associated Press

Misfired rockets may have killed over a dozen in Gaza battle

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Close to one-third of the Palestinians who died in the latest outbreak of violence between Israel and Gaza militants may have been killed by errant rockets fired by the Palestinian side, according to an Israeli military assessment that appears consistent with independent reporting by The Associated Press. The Israeli military […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Advocates: Conviction in 1997 death vacated; prisoner freed

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A man convicted and imprisoned for more than 20 years for the 1997 shooting death of another man in New Orleans was freed Monday after prosecutors agreed that his conviction should be vacated. Court records show a motion to vacate the conviction of Cedric L. Dent, 47, in the shooting death […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Russia temporarily pulls out of weapons inspection treaty

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry announced Monday that Moscow was temporarily withdrawing from the inspection regime established under a key bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty between it and the U.S. In a statement on its website, the ministry said Western sanctions made it impossible for Russia to enforce the New START Treaty “in strict […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Closing prices for crude oil, gold and other commodities

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for September delivery rose $1.75 to $90.76 a barrel Monday. Brent crude for October delivery rose $1.73 to $96.65 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline for September delivery rose 3 cents to $2.89 a gallon. September heating oil fell 4 cents to $3.18 a gallon. September natural gas fell 47 cents to $7.59 […]
14 hours ago
FILE - A giant tarp, bottom,  covers a section of rubble where search and rescue personnel have bee...
Associated Press

Judge: property sale will pay fallen Florida condo’s taxes

Money from the sale of Florida beachfront property where a collapsed condominium tower once stood will be used to pay property taxes of the destroyed units, a judge ordered Monday. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said in a brief ruling that the 2022 tax payments should not be deducted from the $96 million previously earmarked […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Prosecutor: Honolulu police killing of Black man justified