TheGrio has launched a special series called #BlackonBlue to examine the relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans. Our reporters and videographers will investigate police brutality and corruption while also exploring local and national efforts to improve policing in our communities. Join the conversation or share your own story using the hashtag #BlackonBlue.
Diante Yarber was shot 10 times and choked on his own blood after police unleashed a barrage of bullets into his car, killing him as he sat in a car in a Walmart parking lot, an autopsy found.
The Yarber family attorney S. Lee Merritt had a private autopsy conducted on the 26-year-old’s body, reports CBS News. Merritt said the autopsy revealed that Yarber died of asphyxiation on April 5, and said police delayed getting Yarber medical help which could have saved his life.
Yarber had defensive wounds on his chest, back and arms “as he was shielding himself and trying to escape the onslaught of bullets,” Merritt said. This week, he said he plans to file a civil rights lawsuit.
The video of the shooting taken by a bystander and posted by activist Shaun King has gone viral.
Yarber, a 26-year-old father of three, was killed as he and three other people sat in a black Mustang that police fired multiple rounds upon in the Barstow, CA, Walmart parking lot.
Merritt estimates there were 30 rounds shot into the vehicle, killing Yarber and injuring two passengers. Backseat passenger Marian Tafoya was critically injured and had to be airlifted for medical attention.
The Police Version of Yarber’s Death
Barstow police contend that Yarber was a wanted man for car theft.
Police Chief Albert Ramirez Jr. released a statement saying that last month, Yarber jumped out of a stolen car and fled the scene. When police answered a call about a suspicious vehicle at the Walmart, they found that the car was registered to Yarber.
Ramirez said the officer recognized Yarber when the driver opened the car door. He said Yarber backed the car up and it hit a patrol car behind it. They claim Yarber continued the maneuver of moving forward and back again and almost struck an officer.
Ramirez said the officers opened fire because they “feared for their safety and the safety of others,” the chief’s statement said.
The body camera footage is pending and won’t be released until the investigation is complete.
Merritt said Diante Yarber’s car barely moved.
“These officers are opening fire into a car with other passengers and in a Walmart parking lot in broad daylight with people walking all over the place that could have also been struck,” said Dale Galipo, an attorney representing Yarber’s girlfriend and cousin. “It’s obviously a totally excessive shooting.”
This shooting took place just weeks after Sacramento California police shot down Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard.