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Former professional rugby player Lindani Mieni, murdered by Hawaii police in 2021, had CTE, autopsy shows

A black former professional rugby player from South Africa had a degenerative brain disease after being shot by police months after moving to Hawaii. Commonly seen in American football players Autopsies also revealed other players who suffered repeated head injuries.

The findings may help explain Lindani Mieni’s bizarre behavior ahead of her deadly confrontation with Honolulu police in 2021. It also provides another layer of detail about the mass shooting that gained international attention amid growing calls for police reform after the incident. George Floyd Murder in 2020 From a Minneapolis police officer.

Hawaii police shooting brain injury
In a 2021 file photo provided by the Bickerton Law Group representing Lindani Myeni’s family, Myeni stands on a Waimanalo, Hawaii beach with his wife and two children. Myeni was shot dead by Honolulu police in 2021 after physically attacking an officer.


An addendum to Mayeni’s autopsy report obtained by The Associated Press found that his brain tissue was sent to the Boston University CTE Center, and that the 29-year-old father of two was suffering from stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The disease, commonly known as CTE, can only be diagnosed after death.

Stage 4 is the most severe level, and experts say it’s alarming for someone as young as Myeni to have such a severe case as CTE.

Lindsay Mieni, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming her husband was shot by police because he was black, said she was shocked to learn of her CTE diagnosis.

“I didn’t have a clue. He didn’t either,” she said from Richards Bay, South Africa, where she now lives. “So it was kind of devastating… someone told me , hey, he died of racism at 29, but he’ll be killed from his favorite sport at 50 or 51 anyway.”

Police were called after an uninvited person broke into their Honolulu home. According to Honolulu prosecutors, he said, “I have your video,” claimed the cat in the house was his, and made other bizarre comments.

Police officials say the officer did not react to his race, but to his actions that endangered the officer’s life. , found that the lethal force was justified because it left a concussion.

He had become emotional about family matters earlier in the day, and the couple had visited many spiritual sites around Oahu, but showed no signs of CTE. They include memory loss, confusion, poor judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, and depression.

Looking back, she says she wondered if he was depressed or had mood swings during the pandemic.

Myeni started playing rugby around the age of 13 and was playing professionally for South Africa’s Border Bulldogs by age 19, his wife said. He also played rugby in Colorado and Florida, and she knew he only had two concussions, or three.

Dr. Masahiko Kobayashi, the Honolulu coroner who performed an autopsy on Myeni and concluded he died of a gunshot wound, said he suspected CTE after hearing about Myeni’s behavior and his past contact sports.

“Mr. Mieni’s case was very simple, I just identified the cause of death and cause of death. But the situation is very complicated and the public has been greatly affected by this case,” he said. Told.

Kobayashi said he hopes the CTE findings will provide a clearer picture of what led to Myeni’s death.

“We coroners sometimes act as discoverers of facts rather than cause of death or cause of death,” Kobayashi said. “After thinking about all of this, I believe the results of the CTE study should be part of a complete and complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Mieni’s death. That’s why I decided.”

But CTE can’t help Lindsay Myeni figure out what happened on the night of April 14, 2021.

“I still haven’t answered the question of why I’m shooting him,” she said.

Myeni’s behavior sounds like “typical symptoms” associated with CTE, and is “confusing, disorienting, acting in a very different way,” said a Kansas City, Missouri, attorney who suffered a brain injury. Paul Anderson, who represents the athlete’s family, said he was not involved in the Mieni case.

The youngest case of stage 3 CTE diagnosed in the medical literature was 27-year-old Aaron Hernandez, making Myeni “an example of pretty serious CTE for someone that age,” said Harvard University, an expert on the condition. said Dr. Daniel Daneshvar, an assistant professor of medicine.

Former New England Patriots footballer Hernandez committed suicide in 2017 in a prison cell serving a life sentence without parole for murder.

People with CTE tend to have problems with memory, thinking, impulsivity, and paranoia, but there may be other reasons as well.

“It’s hard to say for sure whether a CTE in someone’s brain causes a particular behavior,” he said.

Honolulu prosecutor Stephen Alm said the CTE findings were not surprising and did not change his conclusion that police justified the use of lethal force.

“It’s just a reminder to everyone that someone has that character, or has some kind of mental or emotional disorder, or this way, that danger can arise. ” said Alm.

Two days before the shooting, Mieni told his kickboxing instructor that he was experiencing “crazy African mentality,” according to an investigation by Alm’s office.

About 30 minutes before the shooting, Myeni intervened when police investigated a vehicle break-in and had to be told to leave by both the victim and the police, according to Alm’s investigation.

Myeni then asked one of the police officers for money to buy food and tried to get into the back seat of a police car.

A short drive from there was a house where tourists who didn’t know him were staying. Wearing a feather headband, he followed them into the house and told the woman, “I have your video,” claiming the cat there was his and commenting on the hunt.

A frightened woman called 911.

Video from the officer’s body camera showed Mieni punching the corresponding officer, leaving him with a fractured face and a concussion. Alm said Mieni continued to beat the officer after he was shot in the chest.

Bridget Morgan-Bickerton, a Honolulu attorney representing Myeni’s wife, said he was not aggressive. he was asking ”

Three months before the shooting, the Mieni family moved to Hawaii, where Lindsay Mieni grew up. I believed it was safer than the rest of America for my two black kids.

A single mother of two and three years old, she is in South Africa, where the couple met during a Christian mission trip, not sure if she will ever be able to return to Hawaii. But that is also difficult.

“It’s like he left our small town where he’s from and moved to the suburbs…because it’s hard to even stay at home,” she said. I just got back and went to my birthday party.Oh, this is so hard.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lindani-myeni-death-rugby-player-killed-hawaii-police-cte-autopsy/ Former professional rugby player Lindani Mieni, murdered by Hawaii police in 2021, had CTE, autopsy shows

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