From [HERE] and [MORE] The family of Chinedu Okobi sued San Mateo County on Friday (May 31) alleging that sheriff’s deputies conducted an illegal stop and used excessive force resulting in Okobi’s death last October when they stopped him for jaywalking and used a Taser, batons and pepper spray.
“This was a shocking example of racial profiling and the devastation that can occur when a minor stop, an illegal stop, results in someone’s death,” said John Burris, an attorney for Okobi’s mother, Amaka Okobi, at a news conference in Oakland to announce the lawsuit.
Separately, Los Angeles attorney Carl Douglas filed another suit on behalf of Okobi’s daughter, 12-year-old Christina Okobi.
Chinedu Okobi, the 36-year-old son of Nigerian immigrants, died after sheriff’s Deputy Joshua Wang attempted to stop him while he was walking in the 1400 block of El Camino Real on Oct. 3, 2018. There appeared to be no legal basis for the stop by cops.
Police claimed Okobi, a resident of Redwood City, was “running in and out of traffic” on a busy street around 1 p.m., according to an Oct. 3 press release from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, when a deputy tried to make contact with him. The press release stated that Okobi “immediately assaulted the deputy,” who then called for backup.
Contrary to police reports and media accounts the video speaks for itself and clearly contradicts the police accounts. The district attorney's office posted the footage of Chinedu Okobi’s arrest on the county website. Wagstaffe said that footage is the same as what Okobi’s family saw in November, but arranged in chronological order. The black man was not running in and out of traffic and did not immediately assault any cops. On the video a car passes him and he safely crosses the street. There appears to be no traffic on the 4 lane street. He then stops on the median and waits for vehicles going the other direction to pass before he crosses the street.
On the video he is seen calmly walking on the sidewalk when he is approached by an officer in a police cruiser. On the entire video he is never seen “running in and out of traffic.” When the cop initially approaches him he says something inaudible and calmly walks away from the cop and crosses the street.
While he is walking down the sidewalk cops approach him from both directions. Cops rushed out of their vehicles and began lunging at him. A white cop attempts to grab him [under arrest for what? jaywalking] and then another white cop pushes him into a sign while he has his hands up. Cops start yelling “stop resisting” as he moves away from them to get away. Cops yell “get on the ground” and then tase him. The 330-pound man then dropped to the ground screaming.
Other sheriff’s deputies arrived and a chaotic scene ensued, with deputies shouting at Okobi to turn over on his stomach, while Okobi cried, "What did I do? Someone please help me!"
After writhing on the ground Okobi then attempts to flee as cops give a slow trot chase. After the Black man punches an Asian cop in the face the cops then believe they have justification to use deadly force and begin to do so - as all 5 punch, pounce and smother him in the street.
"All of the original coverage was that my brother was running wildly through the street, he was darting in and out of traffic," Okobi’s sister, Ebele, said in a recent interview. "But what we saw is my brother walking on the sidewalk."
Ebele says the footage also refutes the description of her brother’s behavior during the arrest.
"When he was stopped, there was no assault at all, and when they tase him there's no assault," she said.
"The whole thing seems strange to me. Why you would tase someone who didn't represent a physical threat and wasn't doing anything?"
"They were so afraid of an unarmed bystander that they had to use the kind of force that turned out to be lethal. But they expect the person who's being attacked to be completely calm and understand," Ebele said.
District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, a racist suspect, announced in March he would not pursue criminal charges against the five involved deputies, identified as Wang, John DeMartini, Alyssa Lorenzatti, Bryan Watt and Sgt. David Weidner.
An internal review, which would determine whether the deputies acted within department policy, is ongoing, and the sheriff’s office has declined to provide a timeline for its conclusion.
Deputies returned to duty as of Oct. 31 and Weidner was assigned to a contentious county Board of Supervisors meeting where Chinedu Okobi’s family and friends attended in protest.
Burris again reiterated that the video contradicts the version of events initially described by the sheriff’s office, including that Okobi was “running in and out of traffic” as the initial justification for the stop.
“Police did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe he committed a crime,” Burris said. But despite the lack of justification for the initial stop, when Okobi continued walking, Wang called for backup on an emergency code.
“What was the emergency?” Burris said. “They were like a pack of wolves on him.”
Burris has called for a moratorium on Taser use in San Mateo County, as Okobi’s was the third death that involved the use of stun guns last year.
He said it appeared the deputies were not trained in proper use of Tasers, as Wang deployed one seven times, despite that multiple deployments of Tasers can increase the risk of cardiac arrest.
Ebele Okobi said at Friday’s news conference that the decision not to prosecute “shocks the conscience.”
“It should not be that a human being can be killed, can be violently killed, can be tortured to death with impunity,” she said.
Ebele Okobi extensively described the pain of her family, how her mother had to watch her child “brutally executed” on video.
“Imagine being told that the life of your child doesn’t matter,” Ebele Okobi said, adding that if the deputies had taken similar action against a dog, more would have been done about it.