A Zulu ‘prince’, 29, who once appeared on South Africa Idol has been shot dead by cops in Hawaii after he allegedly charged at officers who were responding to a 911 call claiming he had followed a woman into her home.
Lindani Myeni, a married father-of-two from the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa, was shot and killed Wednesday evening by Honolulu Police officers during an apparent home invasion incident in the Nuuanu neighborhood.
Police said Myeni, who lived nearby, followed a woman into her home, took off his shoes and exhibited ‘odd’ behavior.
Myeni, who is black, then allegedly assaulted the three police officers who arrived on the scene with the police chief saying their ‘lives were in jeopardy’, before the cops fired four shots at him.
One cop was hospitalized with major facial injuries and concussion following the incident while the other two also sustained injuries, police said.
But Myeni’s family has cast doubts on this version of events, with his American wife saying he was not a violent person and suggesting his actions may have been the result of cultural differences after he moved to Hawaii in January.
His death comes one week after Honolulu Police officers shot and killed 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap during a car chase on April 5.
Both males killed in the officer-involved shootings are thought to have been unarmed at the time.
A Zulu ‘prince’, 29, who once appeared on South Africa Idol has been shot dead by cops in Hawaii after he allegedly charged at officers who were responding to a 911 call claiming he had followed a woman into her home. Lindani Myeni with his wife and two children
Lindani Myeni, a married father-of-two from the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa, was shot and killed Wednesday evening by Honolulu Police officers. Pictured in his South Africa Idol audition
The fatal shooting unfolded at around 8:10pm Wednesday when officers were called to a home on Coelho Way after receiving a 911 call from a woman for a burglary in progress.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said in a press conference Thursday that Myeni appears to have arrived at the property by car before allegedly following the woman into her home.
Once inside, he then sat down and took off his shoes, and was trying to talk to the homeowners, she said.
‘From what we can gather at this time, he walked into the house, kind of erratic and odd behavior, ‘ Ballard said.
‘He sat down, took off his shoes and was trying to talk to the people, but they were very upset and trying to get him out, and he eventually walked out.
‘They didn’t know who he was and were trying to talk to him. The homeowners were very shook up and upset.’
He had exited the home and was in his vehicle outside when the officers arrived on the scene.
Ballard said the first officer arrived on the scene and the homeowner identified a man – later revealed to be Myeni – sitting in a vehicle outside as the person who had entered her home.
Police said Myeni, who lived nearby, followed a woman into her home, took off his shoes and exhibited ‘odd’ behavior
Myeni and his wife Lindsay who he met six years ago when she was on a Christian mission in South Africa
Myeni (pictured with his wife) then allegedly assaulted the three police officers who arrived on the scene with the police chief saying their ‘lives were in jeopardy’, before the cops fired four shots at him
At this point, Myeni got out of his car and started to walk toward the second officer who had arrived on the scene, police said.
Ballard said the officers told Myeni to stop and get on the ground.
Instead, Myeni ‘turned and charged’ at one of the cops, punching him several times, she said.
The second officer tried to get Myeni off the first officer while the third officer arrived on the scene, instantly deploying his taser at the suspect, she said.
Ballard 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.
Ballard said the shot did not stop the Myeni, who tackled the officer to the ground, straddling him and punching him repeatedly.
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 where he later died from his injuries.
The three officers were also taken to hospital for treatment for multiple injuries.
The first officer on the scene suffered multiple facial fractures, concussion and injuries to his arms and legs and was still in hospital Thursday.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said in a press conference Thursday that one cop was hospitalized with major facial injuries and concussion following the incident while the other two also sustained injuries
Police are seen at the crime scene in the Nuuanu neighborhood in Hawaii Wednesday night
The second cop had multiple injuries to his body, arms and legs while the third had a concussion and abrasions.
These officers were treated and discharged from hospital.
Ballard insisted the black man’s killing 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.
This comes as protests have erupted this week over the killing of 20-year-old black man Daunte Wright by a white female cop in Minneapolis – just 10 miles from the courthouse where another white cop Derek Chauvin is being tried for George Floyd’s murder.
The three officers involved in Myeni’s death have not been identified and their races, ages and genders are not known.
They were all veteran cops with 23, 18 and 10 years of service.
The officers were all wearing body cameras but the footage has not been released.
The police chief said it is being reviewed to see if it can be released to the public but no timeframe has been given.
Myeni’s family has cast doubts on the police’s version of events, with his American wife Lindsay (pictured together) saying he was not a violent person
She 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
The identities of the homeowners have also not been revealed but both the police chief and Myeni’s wife said the 29-year-old did not know them prior to the incident.
‘They didn’t know who he was,’ said Ballard.
It is not clear if Myeni acted aggressively toward the homeowners or whether he was under the influence at the time with Ballard saying investigators were still looking into the incident. He had no prior criminal history.
Ballard did not reveal Myeni’s identity in the briefing but his family later confirmed the 29-year-old’s death to local media.
Myeni’s wife Lindsay Myeni, who was born in the US but met her husband while she was on missionary work in South Africa, told Hawaii News Now she does not know what led him to visit the home.
However, she dismissed the claims it was a burglary, describing him as the ‘most gentle person’ and suggesting different cultural norms may have meant his actions were misunderstood by the residents.
Myeni is from the Zulu Kingdom where it is customary for people to visit ‘anyone’s house’, she told the outlet.
‘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 said.
Lindsay added that the police account that 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.
The Economic Freedom Fighters Kwazulu-Natal released a statement on social media condemning Myeni’s ‘murder’
‘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.
She insisted he ‘wouldn’t burglarize’ saying: ‘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.
His death comes one week after Honolulu Police officers shot and killed 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap (pictured) during a car chase on April 5
Myeni was supposed to have his green card interview next week, 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.’
She added: ‘We thought here we would be safe. What am I going to tell his family back home? They trusted me to keep him safe here. What am I going to tell my son?’
The Economic Freedom Fighters Kwazulu-Natal, a far-left political party, released a statement on social media condemning Myeni’s ‘murder’.
‘The Economic Freedom Fighters Kwazulu-Natal notes with outrage the senseless killing of Richards Bay’s Esikhaleni resident Mr Lindani Myeni (29) who was shot to death by three white US police officers outside his residence in Nuuanu in Hawaii on Wednesday night,’ it read.
The race of the officers has not been revealed.
The statement went on to accuse the US of ‘covert racism on Black people by continuously stereotyping them as possessing criminal elements, as the report alleges that there was a suspiciously looking man who was sitting in the car.’
Myeni’s death comes just one week after Sykap, a 16-year-old from the U.S. territory of Guam, was shot dead by Honolulu police officers on April 5.
Sykap died from multiple gunshot wounds following a police chase that started on the East side of O’ahu and ended near Kalakaua Avenue.
Six people were in the car, with two of them shot by officers in the incident.
These officer-involved shootings come as the nation is reeling from multiple other police killings of predominantly black men across the US. Daunte Wright left and Adam Toledo right
Sykap was taken to a hospital where he died while the other person shot – a 14-year-old boy – survived.
Police said the car was involved in an armed robbery just 20 minutes prior to the shooting.
Bodycam footage has not been released in this case either with Ballard saying Thursday that officials have to be careful about releasing it because Sykap and some of his passengers in the car are juveniles.
There are over 50 body-worn cameras that have to be reviewed in that case, she said.
These officer-involved shootings come as the nation is reeling from multiple other police killings of predominantly black men across the US.
In Minnesota, a white female cop shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black father-of-one, on Sunday during a traffic stop after she allegedly confused her gun for a taser.
This sparked renewed protests in the state where tensions are already running high amid Chauvin’s trial for the murder of black man Floyd.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, bodycam footage was released of the moment 13-year-old boy Adam Toledo was shot dead by a Chicago cop during a foot chase on March 29.