REDWOOD CITY (KPIX 5) — After four Taser related deaths in 2018 in San Mateo County, the Board of Supervisors on Monday evening held a special meeting to discuss the use of force.
Family members of one of the victims said not only does the family want justice for their loved one, they want to spare another family from experiencing their pain.
Ebele Okobi lost her brother Chinedu last October.
“It’s too late for my brother. It’s too late for my mother’s son,” said Okobi. “But the things we do today can prevent this from happening to other families. That’s what our focus is at this point.”
Chinedu Okobi would’ve been celebrating his 37th birthday on Wednesday. It was during an incident last October that Okobi died after San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies repeatedly used a Taser on him him.
According to the sheriff’s department, Okobi was erratically walking into the streets of Millbrae and attacked an officer. Family members told KPIX 5 they have seen dash cam and cell phone video of the incident. They feel the sheriff’s department’s story doesn’t add up.
“When you see him in the video, he is merely walking down the street,” said Ebele Okobi. “So the notion that you could be walking down the street, minding your own business and end up dead is a terrifying thing to us.”
Community members held a protest just before the meeting to talk about Tasers, then went inside to have their voices heard. 51 people signed up to speak out about this issue.
Supervisor David Canepa said his biggest worry was what deputies would use if they did not have Tasers.
“By removing the Taser, do we then now go to a service weapon? And I think clearly that is a concern,” said Canepa.
Within the sheriff’s department, there are 343 Tasers in service. Deputies are trained to use de-escalation tactics first and only use Tasers when it’s absolutely necessary.
The meeting on Monday was just to gather information about tasers in light of Okobi’s death and three others in 2018. The board will use the information decide whether or not formal action is needed to curb Taser use by San Mateo County law enforcement.