The family of an 36-year-old unarmed man who died after an altercation with San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies in Millbrae earlier this month held a news conference Tuesday to call for the release of all videos and other evidence in the case.
Chinedu Valentine Okobi’s family held a memorial service for him Tuesday morning, then joined civil rights attorney John Burris at a news conference in San Francisco to call on the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office to conduct a transparent investigation into the five deputies involved, as well as asking them to put a moratorium on the use of Taser stun guns by law enforcement in the county.
Okobi was seen running in and out of traffic around 1 p.m. on Oct. 3 in the 1300 block of El Camino Real in Millbrae, according to the sheriff’s office.
Okobi then allegedly assaulted a deputy who contacted him, prompting the deputy to call for backup. Four other deputies arrived and at
least one of them used a Taser on Okobi, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Burris and Okobi’s family reject the assertion that Okobi was violent. Burris said two videos shot by bystanders that the family has seen raise a lot of questions for them about the use of the Taser on Okobi.
Burris said it’s unclear how many times the Taser was used on Okobi, who exactly fired it, and whether the deputies employed any other use of force. He and the family also question whether the deputies were properly trained to employ a Taser.
“Improper use of a Taser should warrant a criminal prosecution,” Burris said.
Burris urged the District Attorney’s Office to release all Taser records, videos related to the case and medical and toxicology reports on Okobi. Wagstaffe has said prosecutors will release a report with more details about the case in eight to 10 weeks.
Okobi’s sister Ebele Okobi spoke on behalf of the family present at the news conference, and urged the public to think of her younger brother
as a person, not “just another name.”
“He’s our little brother. We will never get him back,” she said.
Okobi had a history of mental illness, which they believe may have caused him to walk into traffic that day. However, Ebele notes that he was living on his own and had been taking medication since 2009.