Chinedu Okobi

Memorial Held For Man Allegedly Tasered To Death By San Mateo County Deputies

Jenna Lane
October 16, 2018 - 6:49 pm
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Chinedu Okobi memorial
SAN FRANCISCO —  Chinedu Okobi was remembered at a memorial service Tuesday as a proud father, musician and the youngest of his Nigerian-American family.

To pay tribute to the 36-year-old who was killed earlier this month during a disputed encounter with San Mateo county sheriff's deputies, the service featured a slideshow of family photos displayed during one of Okobi's songs. 

Okobi's death on October 3 is a source of controversy. The San Mateo County Sheriff's office said that Okobi was seen darting in and out of Millbrae traffic before assaulting a deputy. Four more deputies responded to the call, and at least one used a stun gun on Okobi an unknown number of times.

Okobi's family said that he had been taking medication for mental illness for nearly10 years.

His relatives are calling for a moratorium on tasers in San Mateo county. Their lawyer, John Burris said the police use of force was disproportionate and is calling on the sheriff’s office to release all video from the altercation. 

Chinedu Okobi's family holds press conference

“A person who is at best jaywalking – walking in traffic – winds up dead. That just should not happen," said Burris. "That is not a death warrant. If you thought he was walking in a manner — [as] had been reported — that might suggest that there was a mental problem."

Okobi’s death is part of a pattern of taser-related deaths in San Mateo county, "which raises real questions about whether the taser should be used at all," Burris said. 

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office is investigating, but the review could take months. Investigators will examine toxicology and autopsy reports.

The officers have been named as Deputy John DeMartini, Deputy Alyssa Lorenzatti, Deputy Joshua Wang, Deputy Bryan Watt and Sergeant David Weidner. It is not known yet which of the deputies was the first to respond and who deployed their tasers.

All five of the deputies involved are on paid leave.

Written by Jessica Yi