Fresh details on Lindani Myeni killing

We told you previously how South African club rugby player Lindani Myeni was shot dead by police in Hawaii in April. Myeni lived in the US island state with his American wife and two kids. At the time there were huge question marks over what went wrong: police released very selective footage that didn’t explain the whole story, while defending their actions. One police boss said his men were “fighting for their lives”. Now more details have been obtained and released by the Myeni family’s legal representatives – and it appears from this new video footage that Myeni was effectively murdered by cops.  

Raw footage from a doorbell recording shows Myeni enter a building after removing his shoes at the entrance. He is wearing an uMqhele, a traditional ceremonial Zulu headband, and may have confused the building for a similar-looking public temple next to it. Myeni was reportedly a deeply spiritual person. He then interacts with a couple, who loudly claim that he is trying to break in, while he repeatedly apologises. The woman screams hysterically and calls 911, reporting Myeni, who has by then revealed his identity and said he is South African. Myeni is seen leaving the house and apologising again to the residents. As he walks away, the 911 operator confirms to the woman that police are on their way. The police arrive, attack Myeni, tase him and shoot him dead – all while he tries to defend himself. Only then do they announce themselves as police. Myeni was unarmed and did not have any weapons, nor did he threaten the couple, the woman confirmed to the 911 operator. The couple later testified that Myeni never came closer than one to two metres and made no physical contact. 

It’s a horrific story. Myeni was a gentle giant, and it seems – as the #BlackLivesMatter movement has highlighted all too often – the colour of his skin trumped all other protocols. His 29-year-old wife Lindsay Myeni is demanding justice. She said: ‘100%, I know in my heart if it was a white man … if it was me, I’d still be alive. I’d be walking around”.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 24 June 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates