Newly-released doorcam footage shows recently emigrated South African Zulu ‘prince’ repeatedly apologizing to a couple after entering their Airbnb in Honolulu – moments before police shoot him dead
Lindani Myeni, a married black father-of-two from the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa, was shot and killed by Honolulu Police officers back on April 14
Former Idol contestant, Myeni, 29, was fatally shot by cops after he strayed into an Airbnb near the residence he occupied with his American wife and their two children
Attorney for the Lindsay Myeni James J. Bickerton released never-before-seen footage from a surveillance camera at the Airbnb showing events leading up to the shooting
It shows Myeni calmly following the couple toward the porch of the home, taking off his shoes and entering the property after them
He then quickly leaves the property, repeatedly apologizing, saying ‘sorry’
Bickerton says Myeni mistook the home for the ISKCON Hawaii temple next door to the Airbnb on Coelho Way -the occupant is heard saying there is no temple
Cops fired three shots, felling Myeni, before identifying themselves as ‘police!’
Honolulu police Bickerton, reviewed the footage before gong to court to block it’s release. Their petition was denied
The family insists the hysterical 911 call by the occupants of the home and the subsequent appearance by responding police officers were all race tinged
Newly-released doorcam footage shows South Africa Idol contestant and Zulu ‘prince’ Lindani Myeni repeatedly apologizing to a couple after entering their Airbnb in Honolulu – moments before police shoot him dead.
Lindani Myeni, 29, a married black father-of-two from the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by Honolulu Police officers on April 14 in the Nuuanu neighborhood.
Police said he violently resisted arrest when they responded to reports of an intruder.
Now the attorney for Myeni’s family, James J. Bickerton, obtained and released never-before-seen footage from a surveillance camera at the home, providing new details of the events that led up to the fatal encounter. It shows Myeni, 29, following the couple toward the porch of the home, taking off his shoes and entering the property after them. He appears to be calm.
Doorbell camera captures moments leading up to Myeni shooting. Honolulu police apparently reviewed the footage before gong to court to block it’s release. Their petition was denied
He then quickly leaves after his presence appears to have confused the Airbnb occupants, repeatedly saying ‘sorry’.
Bickerton says Myeni mistook the home for the ISKCON Hawaii Hare Krishna temple, which is next door to the Airbnb on Coelho Way.
Myeni’s wife has previously said her husband took off his shoes as a mark of respect – as she said is customary in the Zulu Kingdom.
Bickerton, the family’s attorney also claims Honolulu Police reviewed the footage on the night Myeni was shot dead and went to court to block its release.
Following the shooting, police initially said on April 14, they were responding to a report of a home invasion.
Myeni’s strange behavior police said, frightened the occupants and that he violently attacked responding police officers, leaving one hospitalized with a concussion.
Honolulu PD released short clips of body camera footage and the 911 call made by the female occupant of the Airbnb, but made no mention of the doorcam footage.
The bodycam shows Myeni ignoring commands to get on the ground outside the house he entered, a stun gun fired by police either malfunctioning or having no effect on Myeni.
In the most telling frame, an officer fired several gunshots at the Myeni. The shots appear to have been fired before he says ‘Police!’, identifying themselves.
The doorbell footage begins with the lights of two vehicles pulling up outside the Airbnb at 91 Coehlo Way at 8.07pm.
The captions on the footage say that the address is next door to a temple, which has a similar semi-circular driveway and columns.
The couple staying at the Airbnb, Shiying ‘Sabine’ Wang and her husband Da Ju ‘Dexter’ Wang, are seen walking up to the front door of the property – According to depositions in the lawsuit, the man and woman were tourists staying in the multi-unit dwelling, the lawyers said. It’s not clear where the couple was visiting from.
Dexter is ahead of his wife. Myeni is then seen walking up behind them. He is wearing a face mask and his umqhele, a traditional Zulu headband.
Dexter opens the door and enters followed by Sabine, who turns and watches as Myeni stops at the porch and bends to take off his shoes.
She pauses and watches him before following her husband inside the property.
Myeni slowly talks off his shoes and strolls in after them.
Voices are heard from inside the home, but they are unclear in the recording.
Moments later, Myeni exits the property and stands, still wearing his mask, looking back inside.
Sabine is heard making a 911 call – although Myeni’s lawyer says the first one heard of the tape is just pretend; she doesn’t actually call 911 until a bit later.
‘Hello, someone just break in, breaking into my house… he’s in front of our door,’ she says, as Myeni stands outside.
The doorcam cuts out at this point, according to the lawyers. The tape marks the time at 8.09pm.
Sabine then actually called 911 and told an operator about the man: That call was recorded by 911 dispatch.
The 911 audio – which was previously released – captures Dexter in the background saying: ‘We have no temple.’
Sabine Wang is heard saying: ‘Please leave.’
When asked who is in the property, the woman replies to say: ‘He says Lindon from South Africa.’
She adds that she does not know if the man knows the owner of the home they are renting as an Airbnb.
The operator asks if he has any weapons in his hands to which she replies, ‘No.’
She also confirms he is not yelling at them.
The footage released by the attorney moves back to the doorcam at this stage.
At this point, Myeni is seen walking back out of the property and turning to ask: ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Who are you?’ shouts Mrs. Wang, sounding more hysterical.
Myeni then repeatedly says: ‘I’m sorry.’
‘I know you guys though. May I see your phone?’ he adds.
Sabine Wang is heard on the 911 call saying he tried to go outside.
Dexter Wang is heard saying: ‘My wife is so afraid and I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know. He said his name is Lindon.’
Bickerton said Dexter was actually on the phone to the Airbnb owner, James H. Hall. Hall however, has not commented on the incident at his home.
Myeni is then seen calmly walking out of the home. He puts his shoes back on and walks back in the direction of his car, again apologizing: ‘Sorry.’
Dexter calmly walks out to see where he has gone and tells Hall: ‘He apologized and he just left.’
Voices are heard from inside the home but they are unclear. Moments later, Myeni exits the property and stands, still wearing his mask, looking back inside. Sabine is heard appearing to pretend to make a 911 call claiming ‘someone just break in’
The occupants then call 911. Myeni is then seen calmly walking out of the home repeatedly apologizing
He puts his shoes back on and walks back in the direction of his car, again apologizing: ‘Sorry’
Sabine is heard on the 911 call growing more hysterical saying: ‘I am afraid to go outside.’
Dexter says: ‘He apologized for …[inaudible], and just left.’
In the next frame Sabine Wang is heard sobbing and says: ‘Yes I see, car is here. He’s still in the community. I think the police officer can stop him.
‘I saw a car…’ she says, with her voice becoming inaudible.
911 call moments before Zulu ‘prince’ Lindani Myeni is shot dead by cops
The operator is heard asking Sabine if she remembers what the man’s car looks like. she then runs out of the front door and points at Myeni in the distance saying ‘that’s him’ as the officers have arrived on the scene.
From this point police bodycam footage captured what happened next: “Get on the ground now,” one officer is heard repeatedly saying.
‘Who are you? Who are you?’ Myeni asks.
Police bodycam footage previously released shows none of the officers identified themselves as police until they had already fired three gunshots at Myeni.
It was also pitch black outside at the time.
Myeni’s family say he would not have known the people shining bright lights in his eyes in the darkness were police.
He likely mistook the house for a similar looking dwelling that houses a temple next door that’s open to the public, the lawsuit said.
The lawyers said they were still evaluating full, unredacted body camera footage for the period after the shooting.
A statement from the attorneys who released the video pointed out 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 statement added: ‘We have also compelled the City to turn over unredacted body cam footage in its original format, producing much better quality audio and images than the version that HPD played for the press on April 16, 2021.’ The HPD is yet to give a formal response to the release of the video and statements from the family’s defense team
In a seperate reaction, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said in a statement: ‘Mr. Myeni’s death is tragic.
‘We await both sides making their arguments in court, consequently I have no further comment at this time.’
Police previously released clips from two of the three bodycams worn by cops from the night of the incident; a third was not activated during the struggle.
The clips show three gunshots rang out before an officer says, ‘police.’
Honolulu PD release new bodycam of Lindani Myeni shooting
Acting Deputy Chief Allan Nagata has acknowledged police did not initially identify themselves but said: ‘They were in the fight for their lives.
‘They were very brave. They didn’t shoot or discharge the firearm right away. This was not a case of overreaction,’ Dep. Chief Nagata said
‘They didn’t identify themselves, but hey, let’s be honest. They’re in uniform, right? They’re coming there with the police cars. Although it is dark, it’s pretty clear.’
Nagata also said that Myeni had assaulted the officers, punching one of them until the officer briefly lost consciousness.
The first clip – which is badly lit – begins with a woman crying and telling an officer: ‘That’s him.’
Myeni, who did not have criminal history, is then seen in the driveway of the home. An officer tells him: ‘Get on the ground now.’
After Myeni walks towards the cop a struggle ensues with the officer filming the altercation appearing to be knocked to the floor.
A second clip from a third officer on the scene shows Myeni engages in a struggle with the two other officers.
That third officer deploys his taser before a shot is fired. Three more then follow.
Towards the end of the video an officer then yells ‘police.’
Police said the taser was ineffective in subduing Myeni, who then charged at the third officer and punched him.
Myeni then allegedly ran back at the first officer who fired a single gunshot at him.
The shot did not stop the Myeni, who tackled the officer to the ground, straddling him and punching him repeatedly, police said.
At this point, the second cop fired three rounds at Myeni, who fell to the ground, police said.
‘This all happened in less than one minute from officer one’s arrival,’ Ballard said.
Myeni was taken to The Queen’s Medical Center in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds where he later died from his injuries.
One cop was hospitalized with major facial injuries and concussion following the incident while the other two also sustained injuries.
Myeni’s wife Lindsay Myeni filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the three cops involved in his death, claiming wrongful death, negligence and assault and battery.
The suit claims both the renters of the home at 91 Coelho Way and the officers racially discriminated against Myeni because he was black, with the cops ‘treating him as less than a human being.’
Lindsay Myeni who was born in Hawaii, insists her husband was not a violent person and has suggested his actions may have been the result of cultural differences after he moved to Hawaii in January, just three months earlier.
Her attorney ha signaled that he intends to is trying to depose the Wangs, who called 911, as well as the owner of the home to get further details about the incident.
‘After Mr. Myeni arrived by car and removed his shoes upon entering the transient accommodations house on the Property, Mr. Myeni became aware that he was unwelcome and left the house peacefully,’ the suit filed on April 22 claims.
‘The response by the occupants of the Property was motivated by Mr. Myeni’s race and constituted racial discrimination in public accommodation.’
The attorney said, as an Airbnb rental, discrimination by persons owning, operating or controlling the establishment on grounds of race is illegal.
Before Myeni’s shooting, police had been called to numerous other incidents at the Airbnb including a vehicle break-in and the property was also subject to seven complaints from 2019 to 2020 of it being used as an illegal short-term rental.
The suit also claims the responding officers treated Myeni differently because of his race.
‘This conduct towards Mr. Myeni, treating him as less than a human being regardless of whatever alleged ‘crime’ was being investigated and callously not deigning to explain themselves, their identity, or their purpose, was motivated by racial discrimination towards people of Mr. Myeni’s African descent,’ it reads.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard has denied race was a factor in Myeni’s death previously saying it was ‘nothing to do with race’ but insisted that the officers’ lives were ‘in jeopardy.’
‘I think what we need to remember is it had nothing to do with race. It had to do with behavior and the fact that this person seriously injured the officers and their lives were in jeopardy,’ Ballard said.
The lawsuit filed by the family on April 22 against the the city of Honolulu and the city’s Police Department., claims the officers tried to take Myeni ‘by surprise’ as they did not announce they were law enforcement officers.
In the suit they also claim cops treated ‘him as less than a human being’ due to being black
‘Unbeknown to Mr. Myeni, the police decided to treat this non-violent and peaceful entry into, and departure from, a place of public accommodation, as a crime in progress, and arrived at the scene without lights, sirens or other indicators of their presence in an apparent attempt to take the ‘perpetrator’ by surprise,’ the suit reads.
‘As there was no moon present in the sky at the time and this was a residential street in Nuuanu, it was dark.
‘As Mr. Myeni stood still, unarmed, on the side of the driveway just a few feet off the street, one of the Officers, while hysterical screams of ‘that’s him’ emanated from a person standing in the doorway of the house on the Property, suddenly shone the flashlight directly in Mr. Myeni’s eyes and held a pistol in the flashlight beam pointed at Mr. Myeni.’
It continues: ‘At the same time, without ever announcing that he was an officer or using the word ‘police,’ or stating his purpose, that officer shouted several times in a rough, aggressive, disrespectful, and threatening manner “get on the ground.”
The family also claim the Honolulu Police Department has also refused to hand over Myeni’s cellphone to either them or to prosecutors probing the man’s death.
‘What are they hiding?,’ Bickerton said to the Star-Advertiser.
The lawyer said the family wants to both retrieve personal family photos and try to use the call and map history on the phone to piece together the night’s events.
While Lindsay Myeni, who was born in the US but met her husband while she was on missionary work in South Africa, previously told Hawaii News Now she does not know what led him to visit the home, while insisting it was motivated by larceny. She dismissed the claims it was a burglary, describing her husband as the ‘most gentle person’ and suggested that the difference in cultural norms may have led to his actions being misunderstood by the residents.
The shooting happened three months after Lindani and Lindsay Myeni moved to Hawaii, where she grew up.
The couple believed Hawaii’s diversity would make it the safest U.S. state to raise their two black children, she said.
Lindsay suggested his actions may have been the result of cultural differences after he moved to Hawaii in January. Lindsay said in the Zulu Kingdom it is customary to go into ‘anyone’s home’ and taking off his shoes was a mark of respect
Myeni is from the Zulu Kingdom where it is customary for people to visit ‘anyone’s house’, she said.
‘In Zulu culture you can go to anyone’s house. You can knock on anyone’s door. It doesn’t matter if it’s 8 o’clock it’s not a big deal. Neighbor are neighbors,’ she told Hawaii News Now.
Lindsay added that the fact he took off his shoes shows he believed he was showing the homeowners respect.
‘It says he took off his shoes. I’m sure he did that as a sign of respect,’ she told the outlet.
Lindsay said her husband had been on his way home to the house they shared with their two children just down the street from the now-crime scene.
He had been at the Pali Lookout earlier that day and seemed his usual self, she said, adding she had spoken to him less than 20 minutes before the incident unfolded.
‘He was on his way home. So for whatever reason, he stopped to talk to this neighbor – that literally is down the street from us,’ she said.
‘I don’t know why he stopped at those people’s house,’ she said, adding that they didn’t know each other.
He ‘wouldn’t burglarize’ she said: “We have money. We have everything we need. We’re not looking for anything. He wanted to talk to them for some reason.”
Lindsay told the outlet she could not understand what had happened as he is the ‘most gentle person… and the best father.’
She added: ‘We’ve got two babies under 2. I’ve got to go to sleep every night without him.’
Myeni appeared on Idols South Africa, in 2013 and was the nephew of a rural king’s village in the Zulu Kingdom, meaning he has the rank of a prince.
He also used to play rugby for KZN club in Durban.
Myeni and his wife met six years ago when she was on a Christian mission in the country.
They lived in South Africa for three years before moving to the US and then relocating to Hawaii in January.
Myeni was supposed to have his green card interview the following week after his death, his wife said.
‘We dated, got engaged and got married before he ever came to America,’ Lindsay told Hawaii News Now.
‘He never wanted to come to America. It was never anything he was interested in. He loves his people. He is from the Zulu tribe. They speak Zulu.’
Myeni’s death came one week after Honolulu Police officers also shot and killed 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap during a car chase on April 5.