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She Left the US to Raise a Black Son. Then, the 'Inevitable'

Family demands answers in tasing death of Chinedu Okobi
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2018 10:20 AM CDT
This 2013 photo shows a Taser X26 on display.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

(Newser) – When 72-year-old Amaka Okobi heard a black man had had a deadly encounter with police in Millbrae, Calif., she thought, "Oh God, I feel so bad for his mother." Only later did she learn the man was her own 36-year-old son, said to have been tased by at least two San Mateo County sheriff's deputies after he allegedly assaulted one who approached him while he was walking in and out of traffic, per the New York Times. Without any kind of contact with law enforcement officials, the family of Nigerian-American Chinedu Okobi say they've learned little else about the Oct. 3 encounter, for which the 6'3, 330-pound father of a 12-year-old was unarmed, reports the Guardian. "All we know is what we're piecing together from news reports and from video that people are sending us," says older sister Ebele Okobi, who is Facebook's public policy director for Africa.

One video shows "officers were beating Chinedu, tasing him" on the ground as he shouted, "What have I done?" says family lawyer John Burris. A passerby later described seeing Okobi unconscious, with foam around his mouth, Burris adds, per USA Today. Noting her brother had a serious mental illness that seemed to worsen over the last year, Ebele says people who know her are shocked by the outcome. But she isn't, having moved to the UK in 2014 to avoid raising her own black son in America. "To get this phone call about my brother felt both shocking and inevitable because this is what I was running away from," she says. Five deputies have been placed on paid leave during an investigation by the district attorney's office, expected to take eight to 10 weeks. A rep says no information is expected before then. (Officers were punished after an NBA player was tased.)

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