A Facebook executive has accused California police of lying about her unarmed black brother’s death after viewing dashcam footage that she claims contradicts official accounts of how he died.
Chinedu Okobi, 36, died on October 3 after being tasered multiple times by San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies on a street in Millbrae near San Francisco.
The 34-minute dashcam video, which has not been released publicly, was viewed by Okobi’s family on Friday and they claim it shows him being ‘tortured to death in broad daylight’.
His sister Ebele Okobi, who is Facebook’s public policy director for Africa, has since posted a scathing statement on social media as she accused the sheriff’s office of lying about her brother’s death.
Following Okobi’s death, the sheriff’s office said the father-of-one had been running in and out of traffic on a busy road before he was tasered at least four times and tackled to the ground by five deputies.
Chinedu Okobi, 36, died on October 3 after being tasered multiple times by San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies near San Francisco. His sister posted this photo on Facebook of the incident
The 36-year-old’s family say they have now viewed dashcam footage of the incident involving Okobi and have accused the sheriff’s department of lying about the version of events
They said he may have been suffering from a ‘mental break’ and that he ‘immediately assaulted’ a deputy when he was confronted by authorities.
Okobi, who leaves behind a 12-year-old daughter, was pronounced dead at the scene.
His family is now demanding that authorities release the ‘shocking’ dashcam footage of the fatal encounter.
Oboki’s sister said her brother was begging ‘someone, please help me’ and ‘what did I do?’ in the moments before he died.
His sister Ebele Okobi (above), who is Facebook’s public policy director for Africa, has since posted a scathing statement on social media as she accused the sheriff’s office of lying about her brother’s death
She said the videos were shocking because they contradicted the statements put out by the sheriff’s office and San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, and the suggestion that her brother’s mental illness played a role in his death.
‘The video of my brother’s murder starts out with a dash cam view of my brother, walking calmly down the sidewalk, carrying bags. It’s notable, because the view shows other people walking – it’s broad daylight, so there is nothing particularly interesting or sinister about a man walking down the street, holding bags, heading somewhere. He is dressed normally, and doesn’t look disheveled or as if he’s in crisis,’ Ebele wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.
‘The deputy driving the car says something like who is this guy, and then speeds up to get alongside my brother. According to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office and District Attorney Wagstaffe’s statements, my brother was ‘running in and out of traffic’. My brother was not walking in and out of traffic when the deputy noticed him. He was walking on the sidewalk, as people do.’
She claims the audio shows the first deputy had no basis to stop her brother because they were not responding to call about someone running through traffic.
Ebele said the video shows the deputy pulling up next to her brother and shouting as he asked him what he was doing. She claims her brother answered quietly, but it was inaudible, and then walked to the intersection, looked out for traffic and then crossed the street.
She said the deputy then called for emergency backup, which ‘dramatically escalated the situation’, and lied about being in danger.
Okobi, who leaves behind a 12-year-old daughter, was pronounced dead at the scene. He is pictured above with his daughter back in 2010
Okobi is pictured above with his family after his 2003 graduation from Morehouse College in Atlanta. He graduated with a degree in business administration
The video then shows several deputies surrounding Oboki and charging out of their patrol vehicles, according to his sister.
‘At this point, my brother drops his bags and puts his arms up in the air,’ she said, before adding that Oboki appeared to twist to the side and move his hand up to avoid being hit or to avoid hitting the female deputy.
In the moments before he was tasered for the first time, Ebele said the deputies grabbed him and ripped off his jacket.
‘He tries to run, asking, ‘What’s wrong? What did I do?’. My brother falls in the street, on his back, crying. He has the presence of mind to keep his hands in the air, even as… (a deputy) holds the taser and continuously sends volts of electricity through his prone body. He is not fighting, just crying in pain.
‘I will never forget the visual of his hands, waving above his head, open, begging. He begs them to take the taser prongs off of him. He tries to pull them off himself.
‘My brother never attacked any of the deputies. He did not assault anyone. My baby brother, as big as he was, didn’t even defend himself.’
Ebele said the deputies tasered him again before he staggered to his knees and tried to run away.
‘A deputy pulls out his baton, strikes, they tase him again. My brother goes down. At some point, my brother tries to run across the street, they chase him, they tase him, they pepper spray him, they jump on top of him while he is prone,’ she said.
At no point in the footage did authorities explain why he was being stopped or if he was being arrested, according to Ebele.
Following Ebele’s lengthy Facebook post, the sheriff’s department issued a statement on Monday acknowledging the calls for the dashcam videos to be released publicly
She said deputies were screaming to ‘stay on top of him’ before someone asks if he was still breathing.
‘Someone shouts ‘I see blood!’ Then it’s over… My brother has clearly died, right there on the sidewalk, in broad daylight.
‘One of the deputies immediately declares it a crime scene. A deputy asks another, solicitously, if he wants water. Killing my brother is thirsty work, apparently. What not a single one of those deputies does is give my brother CPR. None of them tries to help him.
‘They express no shock or remorse at the fact of his death. It’s all very casual. They prop his body upright, like an over-full trash bag. His head hangs forward, airways occluded. No one follows even the most basic life-saving procedures. There is no mercy or compassion for my little brother. If they had killed a dog the way they killed my brother, there would be outrage.
‘My brother died on the scene, not on the way to the hospital, not at the hospital. They didn’t even pretend to try to revive him.
‘Now that I have seen the video, I am so angry. 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.
‘These deputies have been trained in the use of tasers (and if they have not, then it is criminally negligent that they were allowed to use lethal weapons without training) and they used them repeatedly on my brother, then held him down until he died, then failed to offer any medical assistance. They knew that their actions were likely to result in my brother’s death. And they did it anyway.
His family are demanding that the sheriff’s office and District Attorney investigating Okobi’s death release the footage and any audio of 911 calls made prior to the deputy stopping him on the street
‘I am angry at myself for believing any of the lie put out by the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. I knew that my brother didn’t ‘attack’ or ‘assault’ deputies, but because of his mental illness, I believed it was possible that he might have been in crisis and acting erratically.
‘None of that would have justified him being killed, but there isn’t even a reason, at all, that my brother was stopped. My brother’s medical history has nothing at all to do with why he was stopped and killed.’
His family are demanding that the sheriff’s office and District Attorney investigating Okobi’s death release the footage and any audio of 911 calls made prior to the deputy stopping him on the street.
Following Ebele’s lengthy Facebook post, the sheriff’s department issued a statement on Monday acknowledging the calls for the dashcam videos to be released publicly.
‘The District Attorney’s Office is still actively investigating this incident and the videos are an important component of this case. The videos will be released when the investigation allows,’ the statement read.
‘It is our understanding that there may still be witnesses to interview and therefore the release of video could influence the independent recollection of those witnesses. We need to provide the District Attorney’s office with every ability to conduct a full and complete investigation.’
Ebele, who lives in London and has previously accompanied Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to Africa, says there has been outpouring of support from executives at the technology giant.
Her brother’s death in Millbrae happened just miles from her company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley.