The California family of a 36-year-old Black man with a history of mental illness is demanding answers after he died in police custody after San Mateo County deputies used Tasers on him.
Last Wednesday, Chinedu Okobi was seen by witnesses running in and out of traffic in Millbrae. Eventually police were called and Okobi was confronted by a deputy. At some point, a struggle broke out and two deputies used their Tasers multiple times to subdue Okobi, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
According to reports, Okobi stopped breathing while in the custody of the San Mateo County sheriff deputies on Oct. 3.
Okobi’s sister, Ebele, says her brother was unarmed and she questioned if police are trained to properly de-escalate a situation involving someone in crisis, reported NBC Bay Area News.
"Do police officers know how to deal with people in crisis?" Ebele Okobi told NBC. "Do police officers give Black men the same dignity they give everybody else?"
She also said her brother's race was probably a factor in the officer’s decision to use a Taser multiple times.
"I don’t live in America and specifically because of this," Ebele Okobi said. "I don’t have the emotional fortitude to raise a Black son in America. We live in London. No place is perfect, but when my husband leaves home, I don’t worry like I do here."
Chinedu Okobi was a talented spoken word poet and devoted father, his family said. He had a history of mental illness, but it’s unclear if he was taking his medications at the time, his family said.
The San Mateo sheriff’s office confirmed that an investigation is ongoing and the case was handed to the district attorney’s office. The five deputies involved in the incident were placed on paid leave pending the results of the investigation.
(Photo: NBA Bay Area)