chinedu okobi

Date: October 5, 2018

Age: 36

State: California

Survived: No (tasered multiple times)

Officer: Sheriff Sergeant David Weidner and Sheriff Deputies John DeMartini, Alyssa Lorenzatti, Joshua Wang and Bryan Watt

Charged: No

Chinedu Okobi was crossing the street in Millbrae, California, on October 3, 2018, when Sheriff Deputy Joshua Wang spotted him from across the street in his patrol car. Dashcam video shows him calling for backup for a pedestrian stop, then approaching Okobi with his car. Okobi is startled and tries to walk away from the car. He starts to walk on the sidewalk with his bag, and a total of three patrol cars pull up and stop him in his path. Okobi puts his hands up, unaware of why he’s being stopped. The officers try to handcuff him without warning, then he tries to pull away. Sheriff Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti yells, “Stop resisting!” and Okobi tries to get away from the officers grabbing his sweater, causing it to rip off of his body. One of the officers tase him, sending him to the ground, and another officer tases him. They yell at him to get on his stomach, but he’s screaming from the pain of the tasers, asking “What did I do?”A third taser is deployed. Okobi says, “I’m lost. Spread the word of God.” He tries to get the tasers off of him and stands up, then a fourth taser is deployed. He yells, “Somebody help me!” twice, tries to get up again, and the fifth taser is deployed. This taser didn’t work because one or both barbs didn’t stick. He gets up and tries to run away from the police. The sixth and seventh tasers are deployed, missing him again. Wang hits Okobi with a baton, and Okobi returns with a punch to Wang’s face. Five officers tackle him, and while they are on top of him, and one says “watch out he’s bleeding.” Video footage cuts away, but somewhere between this moment and when another eyewitness video starts, Okobi is no longer conscious and put in a sitting position by the officers. Paramedics arrive at the scene and perform CPR. Officers rule this as a crime scene, so they begin to take photos of the scene. Sheriff Sergeant David Weidner tells paramedics, “he’s probably got a lot of drugs on board, which explains why he was fighting so hard.” Okobi is loaded into the ambulance, but the paramedics fail to resuscitate him. The coroner ruled the cause of death as “cardiac arrest following physical exertion, physical restraint, and recent electro-muscular disruption," and the toxicology report ruled there was no alcohol or drugs in his system. He was 36 years old.

 

The Sheriff’s Office alleged that Chinedu Okobi was running in and out of traffic then assaulted officers, justifying the initial stop, when the dashcam and eyewitness video shows otherwise. They also said that the Okobi family had released that he had a history of mental illness, but his sister, Ebele Okobi, said that his mental illness had nothing to do with this incident. The ACLU chapter in Northern California said that this stop had “all the earmarks of racial profiling… If crossing the street made Okobi the object of police attention and attempted detention – one has to ask if Okobi was white, would the reaction have been the same?" The officers were placed on paid leave during the duration of the investigation, and no charges were filed. Okobi’s death was the third in ten months involving a taser in San Mateo County. No charges were brought against the officers involved in the other two deaths.

Sources: 

Donaghue, E. (2019, March 1). Officers won't be charged in Taser-related death of unarmed black man. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/chinedu-okobi-case-officers-wont-be-charged-in-taser-death-of-unarmed-black-man-2019-03-01/

 

McBride, A., & Wu, G. (2019, March 02). Chinedu Okobi case: San Mateo sheriff's deputies cleared in Taser death of unarmed black man. Retrieved from https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/San-Mateo-sheriff-s-deputies-cleared-in-tasing-13655747.php#photo-16342259

 

NBC Bay Area. (2019, March 02). DA: No Charges For Deputies in Millbrae Taser Stun Gun Death. Retrieved from https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/DA-No-Charges-For-Deputies-in-Millbrae-Taser-Death-Body-Cam-Video-Released-506559051.html

 

Motion picture. (2019). United States: Mercury News. Retrieved April 23, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/.

Okobi, E. (2018, November 18). Facebook. Retrieved April 23, 2019, from https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10217260513803135&set=a.2197156886699&type=3

 

Plater, R. (2018, October 17). Man Dies After Struggle With Deputies in Millbrae. Retrieved from https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Man-Dies-After-Struggle-With-Deputies-in-Millbrae-Family-Seeks-Answers-497638151.html

 

Rasta, A. (2018, October 17). Family Calls For Moratorium on Tasers After Man's Death. Retrieved from https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Family-Calls-For-Moratorium-on-Tasers-After-Peninsula-Man-Dies-in-Struggle-With-Deputies-497749261.html

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