Facebook exec seeks answers in brother’s death at the hands of police

Ebele Okobi, a Facebook executive, is using her position to call for justice after her brother, Chinedu died at the hands of police under dubious circumstances

Chinedu Okobi
Family of Chinedu Okobi/WXIA-TV

The family of Chinedu Valentine Okobi is requesting an independent investigation be done after viewing new footage of the Morehouse College graduate who died after being tackled and repeatedly tased by sheriff’s deputies near San Francisco.

According to USA Today, the 34-minute-long video is a stunning contradiction to the public statements made by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office about the fatal encounter. And now Okobi’s family wants the tapes shown to the public.

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Friday, San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office pieced together clips from police dashcam and other surveillance cameras near the scene of the Oct. 3 arrest, to give Okobi’s mother and family members a sense of what took place that day.

The victim’s sister, Ebele Okobi, says what they saw refutes key statements from deputies claiming that her brother assaulted them leading up to his final moments.

“They are trying to make my brother, a homicide victim, responsible for his own murder in the court of public opinion,” said Okobi, who currently works as Facebook’s public policy director for Africa.

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San Mateo County District Attorney, Steve Wagstaffe, is investigating the actions of the five deputies in question, but says he is intentionally refraining from releasing the footage to the public until after all witnesses have been interviewed.

“After our investigation is completed and I make my decision on the case, I will follow our standard procedure in this county and everything in the investigation will be available to the media and the public and anyone can review the reports, videos and form their own opinion,” Wagstaffe told USA Today in a statement.

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The sheriff’s office says it would be “more appropriate to comment” following the conclusion of the DA’s investigation in about 3-4 weeks. Undeterred by the delays, Okobi is using her platform as a prominent Facebook executive to renew advocacy against the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement.

“Now that I have seen the video, I am so angry,” Okobi wrote Sunday afternoon in an emotional Facebook post. “It was always wrong, it was always a tragedy, but now, knowing that there wasn’t even the pretense of police stopping him ‘for his own safety’, seeing the way they tortured him to death for simply walking down the sidewalk – this is a crime.”