Lindani Myeni: Judge Orders Release of Full Bodycam Video in Fatal Hawaii Police Shooting

A judge in Honolulu ordered city officials to turn over unedited police body camera footage to attorneys representing the family of an unarmed Black man who was shot and killed by police in April.

On Tuesday, Judge Dean E. Ochiai also ordered the city to turn over 911 calls from the night police shot Lindani Myeni.

The incoming 911 calls from between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the area of the shooting on April 14, along with the unedited footage, must be turned over by June 10, Ochiai ruled.

The judge's ruling came on the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, which attorneys seeking the disclosure highlighted as another reason why the evidence in the case must be released.

Myeni, a citizen of South Africa, was shot dead during a struggle with officers after he entered a home that wasn't his in the Nuuanu neighborhood on the evening of April 14, leading a female occupant to call 911.

Lindani Myeni and family
Lindani Myeni with his wife and children. Attorneys for Lindsay Myeni

Police said Myeni had walked into the home, sat down and took off his shoes. It wasn't clear what he was doing there.

Myeni's widow, Lindsay Myeni, who is American, filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging police were motivated by racial discrimination against an unarmed Black man.

Bridget Morgan-Bickerton, a lawyer representing Myeni's wife, told Newsweek: "I am not going to comment on the court's ruling at this time, but we look forward to soon having the complete, raw body-worn camera footage.

"In the edited, second-hand footage that was previously released, one can hear Lindani asking 'Who are you?' twice, with no audible response from the officers. We think the raw footage will confirm that they never answered him until after they shot him."

Days after the shooting, Honolulu police released two short clips of body camera footage from the shooting. The footage showed police fired three gunshots before an officer uttered the word "police."

Acting Deputy Chief Allan Nagata told reporters that officers were in a "fight for their lives," The Associated Press reported in April. Nagata said Myeni had assaulted the officers, including punching an officer who briefly lost consciousness.

The department's Chief Susan Ballard said race wasn't a factor.

Morgan-Bickerton told the AP that "notwithstanding HPD's claim that this is not about race, Lindani was treated aggressively and disrespectfully from the very beginning, even though the tape shows he was standing still."

She added: "We also know that Lindani was subjected to deadly force without even being given the chance to hear the required words 'this is the police.'"

The police department later released a recording of the 911 call made by the woman staying at the home. "I don't know this man," she told the dispatcher, who repeatedly asked about the man's race.

"Is he white? Is he Black? Is he local?" the dispatcher asked at one point in the call. The woman then confirmed the man was Black.

In Tuesday's hearing, the judge granted some of the city's attempts to delay discovery in the lawsuit until after separate investigations by the police department and Prosecuting Attorney Steven Alm have concluded.

Ochiai ruled that police reports, investigations, personnel files and anything related to the actions of the officers under investigation for possible criminal liability by the prosecutor will not be disclosed in the civil case before July 16, in accordance with a timeline issued by Alm.

If Alm finds no evidence to support criminal charges against the officers involved, the protective order will be dissolved. It will remain in effect if charges are brought, the Star-Advertiser reported.

"We appreciate Judge Ochiai's consideration of our motion and the issuance of a protective order," Krishna F. Jayaram, first deputy corporation counsel for the city, said in a statement. "As to the remainder of his ruling, we are in the process of parsing through it."

Jayaram has been contacted for additional comment. The Honolulu Police Department has been contacted for comment on the ruling.

Update 5/30 3.30 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with a statement from an attorney for Lindsay Myeni.