MILLBRAE (KPIX 5) — On what would have been a Bay Area man’s 37th birthday Wednesday, his relatives and several activists delivered a petition to the San Mateo County District Attorney, demanding that five deputies be charged in the man’s death.
“I knew there was going to be a bunch of emotions, obviously, frustration because (we) still have no answers,” said Jefrey Tobenna Mihebji. “But at the end, answers aren’t bringing him back.”
Mihebji’s cousin, Chinedu Okobi, died last October when deputies said Okobi allegedly assaulted one of them and they were forced to use their tasers.
They said he had been running in and out of traffic, but Okobi’s family claims he was simply walking along El Camino Real in Millbrae.
They gathered Wednesday night at the spot where the incident happened to remember him on his birthday by lighting candles and chanting.
“I have been coping by doing everything I possibly can to stop this kind of senseless, insane, unethical killing,” said family friend Merrie Jo Musni.
Okobi’s relatives were joined by activists from Color of Change and Black Alliance for Just Immigration when they dropped off the petition that had more than 50,000 signatures to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. They also dropped off 37 black balloons to symbolize Okobi’s birthday.
Okobi’s relatives have been critical of Wagstaffe’s handling of the case; claiming he has been dragging his feet in making a decision and releasing video evidence of the incident.
“At the end of the day there has to be accountability,” said Mihebji. “This happened in October…are you kidding me, a half of a year, six months we’re going on.”
Wagstaffe told KPIX 5 in a phone interview he gave the family a more specific time frame of when he would make a decision and release the video, which he said would be the end of February or first week of March.
Mihebji said on Okobi’s birthday, they would honor his memory, but everyday they will demand change.
“I’m not going to see my cousin in person again and every time I look at him I see this smile,” he said. “I just remember and reflect. We grew up together.”