HONOLULU — A judge ordered Honolulu officials to turn over unedited police body camera footage to attorneys representing the family of a South African citizen who was shot and killed by police after he entered a home that wasn’t his.
Judge Dean E. Ochiai during Tuesday’s hearing also ordered the city to turn over all incoming 911 calls in the area between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on April 14, the night Honolulu police shot Lindani Myeni.
Myeni, 29, had entered a home, sat down and took off his shoes, prompting an occupant to call 911, police said. Myeni later physically assaulted a responding officer who ended up in the hospital, police said.
About two days after the shooting, police released two brief clips of body camera footage. In the footage, three gunshots rang out before an officer said “police.”
The department later released a recording of the 911 call made by a frightened occupant. “I don’t know him,” she told the dispatcher, who asked her several times about the man’s ethnicity.
“Is he white? Is he Black? Is he local?” the dispatcher asked. The woman, who sounded like she was crying through much of the call, eventually answered, “Black.”
A lawsuit by his widow filed on April 29 alleged that police were motivated by racial discrimination against an unarmed Black man.
It also sounded like Myeni was having a calmer conversation with someone else in the home. Lawyers representing his wife, Lindsay Myeni, have said they will retain forensic experts to enhance the background conversation.
The calls and full footage must be turned over by June 10, the judge ruled.
The court granted some of the city’s attempt to delay discovery in the wrongful death lawsuit until after the Honolulu Police Department’s and the Prosecuting Attorney’s separate investigations conclude, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
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 prior to July 16, in accordance with a timeline issued by Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm, Ochiai ruled.
If Alm finds no evidence to support criminal charges against the officers, the protective order will be dissolved. If charges are brought, the order will remain in effect.
A police spokeswoman declined to comment on the ruling. Attorneys for Myeni’s widow didn’t immediately comment on the ruling Wednesday.
“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 to the newspaper. “As to the remainder of his ruling, we are in the process of parsing through it.”