A young Black father of three was killed by California police when they fired a barrage of bullets into a car parked in front of a Walmart in broad daylight.
On the morning of April 5, 26-year-old Diante Yarber was fatally shot by police in Barstow while driving his cousin and his friends to Walmart. Yarber is believed to have been unarmed at the time, reported The Guardian.
According to authorities, Yarber was allegedly “wanted for questioning” in a stolen vehicle case.
"Officers believed the driver was a subject wanted for questioning in a recent crime involving a stolen vehicle," read a San Bernardino county sheriff department press release. "Officers attempted a traffic stop of the Mustang when the driver suddenly reversed the vehicle and struck one of the patrol cars. When the driver again accelerated toward the officers and struck a second patrol car, the officer involved shooting occurred. Two of the four occupants were struck by gunfire."
Both Yarber’s family and their attorney have disputed the claim that Yarber posed any threat to officers.
“The police took him away for no reason,” Brittany Chandler, the mother of Yarber’s 19-month-old daughter, Leilani, told The Guardian. “The police should be held accountable for this … They are sick people for them to be able to shoot someone down in broad daylight.”
The San Bernardino county sheriff’s department told reporters the officers were responding to a “call of a suspicious vehicle” when Yarber, who was driving his cousin’s car, “suddenly reversed the vehicle” and hit a patrol car.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, said Yarber was not armed but police decided to unload bullets on a car filled with Black people.
“They saw a car full of black people sitting in front of a Walmart, and they decided that was suspicious,” Merritt told The Guardian. “They just began pouring bullets … It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. It’s mind-boggling, the use of force.”
Aleta Yarber, Diante’s aunt, said the car Yarber was driving was never reported stolen and she said when she examined the car after the shooting, it did not appear it had rammed into police vehicles. Police did not respond to inquiries about the claims that Yarber was a car theft suspect.
Aleta’s son was in the car at the time of the shooting; he was not injured. Since the death of Yarber, Aleta’s son “has not been able to say much of anything,” she told The Guardian.
“It was very traumatizing.”
Additionally, a 23-year-old unidentified woman in the car was injured by the gunfire.
Although police labeled the incident an “assault” on an officer, Dale Galipo, an attorney representing the woman, said the investigation, so far, has shown officers were not in the path of the vehicle.
Galipo told The Guardian his client was struck by at least two shots and suffered “serious injuries.”
“She’s still in a state of shock,” he added.
Merritt added the woman was initially detained in a police car and questioned like a suspect before officers offered her medical attention.
A police spokeswoman said “involved officers” were on “paid administrative leave.”
(Photo: Code6d/Getty Images)
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