Sister of man who died after being tased by deputies in Millbrae says video discredits official story

MILLBRAE, Calif. (KGO) -- When ABC7 News spoke to Ebele Okobi shortly after her brother was tased by San Mateo Sheriff's deputies in Milbrae and died, all she and her family wanted was a way to figure out how this could have happened.

"We are begging for the opportunity for closure" said Ebele at a press conference shortly after Chinedu Okobi's deaht.

But that closure will have to wait after she and family members viewed dashcam and cell phone video, shown to her by the San Mateo County District Attorney.

"Of course the overarching emotion is extreme sadness because I know I'm watching video of my brother being killed." Said Ebele Okobi in a Skype interview from London.

As part of a lengthy Facebook post which has received nearly 32,000 shares, Ebele Okobi said she believes the videos, which she and other family members were shown late last week, showed her brother Chinedu Valentine Okobi was not violent when he was subdued and tased by a Sheriff's sergeant and four deputies.

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"When you see the video you literally see him walking down the street when he gets stopped."

The police videos, Ebele Okobi said, "were shocking because they contradicted, in every single particular, the statement that the San County Sheriff's Office released and to which San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe referred in multiple news outlets after my brother's murder."

District attorney Stephen Wagstaffe denies he claimed Chinedu Okobi was acting with aggression and attacked a deputy.

"We made no such statement...that was an original statement in a press release issued by the Sheriff's Office not by me."

Law officers had said that on Oct. 3, Chinedu Okobi was reported to have been running in and out of traffic in the 1300 block of El Camino Real in Millbrae. Okobi then allegedly assaulted a deputy who contacted him, prompting the deputy to call for back up. Four other officers arrived, and at least one of them used a Taser on Okobi.

John Burris, the Okobis' attorney, said he watched the police video along with family members. He said Chinedu Okobi did not appear to be violent.

"The police explanation (of what happened) is not consistent with what we saw on the tape," Burris said. Though quick to say Ebele Okobi's posted words weren't necessarily his, Burris did say that "I share their anger, their sense of frustration, their pain of losing a loved one."

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The San Mateo District Attorney's office is investigating whether any of the deputies who subdued Chinedu Okobi broke the law with their use of force. In an email shortly after the incident, Wagstaffe said he hopes the investigation is finished by mid-December. That timing will depend largely on when the autopsy report is finished. He plans to release the video to the public sometime after Thanksgiving.

According to Wagstaffe, there have been three cases of men being tased and killed in San Mateo County in the past year and they all have similarities: the men had larger builds and had backgrounds of mental health issues.

The one thing both the DA and Okobi family agree on - this case has been a catalyst, hopefully for change.

"Maybe people will look at cases like this and say we need different standards of law enforcement" says Wagstaffe.

Ebele Okobi echoed that sentiment saying "it's important for us to recognize this is an epidemic and if people don't feel like this is something that can happen to them and they don't get involved it won't change."

The Okobi family has since started a website called Justice For Chinedu to educate the public so this doesn't happen again.
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