San Mateo County Sheriff's Dept. revising department's use-of-force policies

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Mateo County Sheriffs Department is revising its use-of-force policies in the aftermath of three Taser-related deaths in the county last year.

On Oct. 3, 36-year-old Chinedu Okobi was stopped by San Mateo sheriff's deputies while he was walking in Millbrae.

Okobe died from cardiac arrest after he was shot with a Taser multiple times, hit with clubs and pepper spray.

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A pathologist concluded that the Taser contributed to his death.

In its aftermath, outrage from his family and activist groups.

This was the third Taser-related death last year in San Mateo County, one involving Redwood City police. The third by Daly City's officers.

San Mateo Sheriff's spokeswoman Detective Rosemary Blankswade says the department is now revising its use-of-force policies.

"There's a learning experience there and we want to do everything we can to protect and provide San Mateo County with the best services and training."

The draft policies, which were presented to the County, include better communications when Tasers are used.

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The Sheriff's office says they worked closely with the ACLU.

"One of the changes that we made is now changing the verbiage from actively resisting to violating resisting and that was at the suggestion of the ACLU," Blankswade said.

The Sheriff will also add more less lethal options for deputies.

The 40-millimeter launcher round has a blue rubber top which shoots out of the weapon. It also fires bean bags containing little rubber pellets.

All Sheriff's patrol vehicles will be equipped with these less lethal options.

They'll also have Automated External Defibrillators (AED), in their cars.

"We've secured funding for AEDs for all our patrol cars so now we're getting 74 more AEDS for our entire fleet," said Blankswade.

The Department says it incorporated many suggestions from the ACLU.

While the ACLU applauds those changes, the group says the Sheriff did not go far enough.
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