Journalism of Courage

U.S City Revising Law, After Unarmed Nigerian Chinedu Okobi, tased to death by Police

On the afternoon of Oct. 3, 2018, Mr. Okobi was in downtown Millbrae, California, walking along El Camino Real when he began to experience a mental breakdown, which reportedly caused him to walk out into oncoming traffic. Several law enforcement agents responded to the scene to investigate.

Instead of stabilizing Mr. Okobi and/or summoning medical help, eyewitnesses watched as the police escalated the situation by repeatedly tasing the unarmed Mr. Okobi with 50,000 volts from each taser discharge. Undoubtedly fearing for his life, he got off the ground and ran from the deputies

A taser is a weapon firing barbs attached by wires to batteries, causing temporary paralysis and used by law enforcement officers in the U.S.


Chinedu Okobi and mum

He crossed the street and was surrounded by five officers who took him to the ground. A passerby described seeing Mr. Okobi sitting on the ground with his chin to his chest appearing to be unconscious with foam around his mouth while being propped up by the knee of one of the officers. Mr. Okobi did not have any outstanding warrants nor had he been suspected of committing any crimes.

The 36-year old Nigerian man who was unarmed and repeatedly tasered and forcefully restrained by officers until he fell unconscious and later died. He leaves behind a young daughter, grieving mother and a host of family, friends and colleagues.

Okobi and daughter

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office is revising its use of force policy, including for Taser stun guns, following outcry over the death of Chinedu Okobi.

Sheriff Carlos Bolanos gave a presentation on the revised use of force policy at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

The new policy has incorporated feedback solicited from the American Civil Liberties Union and sets new restrictions on when deputies can use force.

Ebele Okobi

Mr. Okobi’s sister, Mrs. Ebele Okobi, is a Facebook executive and posted this on her page: “Chinedu Valentine Okobi. He was a person. He was my little brother, he was a father, he was loved. Now he is gone, and our hearts are broken. His name is now one of too many names.”

The Police said it will not seek charges against the officers who tased Okobi to death.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe determined that the deputies’ use of force in tasing Okobi was reasonable after conducting interviews with deputies and witnesses, as well as reviewing the coroner’s report and audio and video recordings of the incident.

“This is not a case where I am trying to put any blame on Mr. Okobi,” Wagstaffe said Friday. “This was a tragic event and I don’t want to do anything to demonize these deputies or Mr. Okobi in any manner.”

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