Lindani Myeni’s wrongful death suit will only go to trial in September 2023: Lawyer

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The attorney representing the family of the late Lindani Myeni says the wrongful death suit filed on their behalf will only go to trial in September next year.

The 29-year-old was shot after a struggle with police in Honolulu, Hawaii exactly a year ago on Thursday.

A prosecutor later found that the deadly force used by the officers involved in the shooting death was justified and filed no charges.

Jim Bickerton, who has represented Lindsay Myeni since her husband’s untimely death says they hope to seek some form of accountability in their civil wrongful death litigation and financial compensation for the Myeni family.

A year on since that fateful day when the KwaZulu-Natal-born rugby player took his last breath at the hands of police, his death continues to leave more questions than answers.

While the criminal probe has been put to rest by Honolulu prosecuting authorities, the civil case continues, albeit at a snail’s pace.

Bickerton says, “One of the hardest things to accept is how slow the justice is delivered. We’ve seen in other parts of the US it moves a lot quicker. What’s happening with us is that we don’t have a trial date until September of 20, 23. So we’re still a year and a half away from a trial. And that’s very frustrating for us and for the family. More importantly for us, is just really unacceptable, now in defence of our system, it is because of the COVID pandemic that these court delays resulted. We weren’t trying any cases at all for about two years and we’ve just started trying them again.”

Taxpayer funds

The Honolulu Police Commissioner last week decided to approve taxpayer funds to cover the legal bills of the two HPD officers involved in Myeni’s killing, with the wrongful death suit arguing the officers were motivated by race.

Bickerton says, “I still believe that and I haven’t seen any reason not to, I believe that it’s a suitable formal racial discrimination. I don’t feel it’s like, oh here’s a black man, let’s shoot him. It’s much more like, here’s a black man we don’t need to give him the dignity of announcing ourselves. In other words, we can treat him in a lesser way than we might treat someone else. If it was someone else, he might have said, sir freeze, were police but because they see a black man they say get on the ground without further ado.”

Bickerton also explained what success would look like at the conclusion of their civil litigation.

“A civil lawsuit can’t result in anyone going to prison, but it can do two things. The first thing and I think probably the most important from the family’s perspective, is to shine the light of truth on the situation and bring forward all the evidence, and show who’s been truthful and candid and honest about things, and who’s not and in that process have some accountability. The second thing it does and it’s really very important although it’s a little more mundane is that it is designed to seek compensation and you know the way that we look at it Lindsay and her family and Lyndon.”

South Africa

He confirms that Lindsay Myeni and the children are still in South Africa and have been since Lindani’s funeral in May last year.

“I think they are doing ok. I don’t want to say great because I don’t know that it can be great after something like this. But I think that they are making a good life for themselves. They’re finding happiness in South Africa and Lindsay says that she is in Lindani’s home and that his children are in their home.”

Bickerton also indicated that while the civil trial is scheduled only for next year, an out-of-court settlement between the parties cannot be ruled out in the months ahead.

VIDEO: Never seen before footage of the night of Lindani Myeni’s death: