Morehouse grad dies after police tasing; family says use of force unnecessary

The 36-year-old's family wants to know if it was necessary to use the ultimately fatal methods they did to subdue him.

(Photo: Fotolia)


Chinedu Valentine Okobi, 36, of Redwood City died Oct. 3 after being tased multiple times as he wrestled with San Mateo County Sheriffs deputies. Now, his family demands that any tapes of the altercation Okobi had with police be released so they can gain more clarity into what happened on a a highway between the Morehouse grad and five officers involved in the fatal encounter, KQED reports.

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“What was taken from us is irretrievable,” said Chinedu Valentine Okobi’s sister Ebele Okobi, who is also Facebook’s director of public policy for Africa.

“We will never get him back. We are just begging for the opportunity to be able to not have him murdered again by not knowing what happened to our brother,” Ebele told reporters on Tuesday after a funeral service in San Francisco.

The deputies claim Okobi was involved in an altercation with them after being pursued for weaving in and out of traffic. According to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office release, a deputy confronted Okobi, and he assaulted the officer. He was subdued after backup was called and tasers and pepper spray were deployed

Two bystanders who took video shared it with the family’s attorney, John Burris. Burris has not made the video available to the public but says it shows several officers wrestling with Okobi.

“I see on the video where they take his body and they toss it around like he’s a rag muffin, and he falls down — they’re on top of him,” Burris said. “And he gets up and he begins to run.”

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s office said it is investigating.

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Laid to Rest

At a memorial service on Tuesday, where more than 200 people gathered, Okobi was described as a dedicated family man who was jovial and quick-witted.

His sister remembered his time as a toddler.

“I still remember him pulling himself up to his full 2.5 feet to say ‘stop yaffing at me’ when he said something we found hilarious.”

Okobi reportedly suffered mental illness and started experiencing difficulty in 2009, his family said. He graduated with a degree in business administration from Atlanta’s Morehouse College. 

Burris questioned if a better tactic could have been used that could have saved Okobi’s life.

“Maybe there’s another approach here,” Burris said. “Maybe it’s called de-escalation. Maybe it’s talking to that person in a reasonable manner.”