Courtesy photo

Family says video contradicts sheriff’s office story in Millbrae Taser death

The sister of an unarmed man who died after an Oct. 3 altercation with San Mateo County sheriff’s deputies in Millbrae said police video of the altercation shows the sheriff’s office hasn’t accurately described how her
brother died.

As part of a lengthy Facebook post today, Ebele Okobi said she believes the videos, which she and other family members were shown late last week, showed her brother Chinedu Valentine Okobi was not violent when he was subdued and tased by a Sheriff’s sergeant and four deputies.

The police videos, Ebele Okobi said, “were shocking because they contradicted, in every single particular, the statement that the San County Sheriff’s Office released and to which San Mateo District Attorney Steve
Wagstaffe referred in multiple news outlets after my brother’s murder.”

Law officers had said that on Oct. 3, Chinedu Okobi was reported to have been running in and out of traffic in the 1300 block of El Camino Real in Millbrae. Okobi then allegedly assaulted a deputy who contacted him,
prompting the deputy to call for backup. Four otherofficers arrived, and at least one of them used a Taser on Okobi.

John Burris, the Okobis’ attorney, said tonight that he watched the police video along with family members. He said Chinedu Okobi did not appear to be violent.

“The police explanation (of what happened) is not consistent with what we saw on the tape,” Burris said tonight. Though quick to say Ebele Okobi’s posted words weren’t necessarily his, Burris did say that “I share their anger, their sense of frustration, their pain of losing a loved one.”

The Okobi family doesn’t have a copy of the police video, Burris said. Among Ebele Okobi’s demands on her Facebook post is that the police videos be released to the public.

Family members have said two other videos, shot by witnesses to Okobi’s arrest, raise questions as to how violent Okobi was.

Burris said a key question is whether a Taser should have been used during Okobi’s arrest, and whether the San Mateo County Sheriff’s policy regarding use of Tasers, and training, should be examined.

The San Mateo District Attorney’s office is investigating whether any of the deputies who subdued Chinedu Okobi broke the law with their use of
force. In an email tonight, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he hopes the investigation is finished by mid-December. That timing will depend largely on when the autopsy report is finished, said Wagstaffe.

Separately, Wagstaffe said he is working with San Mateo County law enforcement on possible future Taser policy.

No lawsuit has been filed in connection to this case, Burris said. A decision on that awaits the completion of the investigation, he said.

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