Chinedu Valentine Okobi, the youngest brother to Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s policy head for Africa, died in hospital early this month after being assaulted by police in the US.
According to an article by the New York Times, Chinedu’s encounter with the police on October 3 started when a San Mateo County sheriff’s deputy saw him walking in and out of traffic on a busy street in Millbrae, California, said Stephen M. Wagstaffe, the San Mateo district attorney, whose office is investigating the case.
At least five deputies were involved in a struggle with Chinedu, who was hit with a Taser (aka as a stun gun, it’s an electroshock weapon which delivers an electric shock aimed at temporarily disrupting the targets muscle functions and/or inflicting pain without causing significant injury) and died at the hospital.
(TOP: The late Chinedu Valentine Okobi – right – with his father in a family photo. Mr. Okobi, 36, died after he was hit with a stun gun in a struggle with police officers. Photo: Republished from the NewYork Times).
At least two deputies fired their Tasers with a total of four discharges between them.
John Burris, a lawyer for Mr Okobi’s family, questioned why the officers used force against Chinedu in the first place given that he did not appear to be committing any significant crimes. Mr. Burris said he was still trying to piece together the details of what happened, but a video the lawyer received from a witness captured the later part of the police encounter with Chinedu.
“It looks like he’s on the ground, he’s being Tased, he’s shouting ‘What did I do?’…He ultimately gets away from that. He’s running. He looks like he’s running for his life,” narrated the lawyer to the New York Times.
The late Chinedu, 36 at the time of his demise, graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in business administration. About 10 years ago, he began struggling with mental health issues even though he was able to manage his condition. However, relatives feared that he had stopped taking his medication earlier this year.
Below is Ms Okobi’s tribute to her brother which she posted on Facebook on October 9, 2018:
“He was born the day before Valentine’s Day, so close to the brother before him that people used to think they were twins. He had irresistibly chubby cheeks when he was a baby, which was unfortunate because he clearly found the resulting cheek pinching entirely beneath his dignity.
He was the last of we five, and my memories of him as a child all involve constant motion and extreme truth telling-from him barreling everywhere on extremely bowed legs, to that time, at three years old, when he solemnly informed our Sunday school teacher that he should chew some gum because he had bad breath (he was not wrong, and feedback is a gift).
When he graduated from Morehouse College, we were all so proud-he was smart, funny, hard-working, and incredibly kind, with an earnest streak that I found hilarious. He called me Little Big Sis, because he was 6 foot 3 and I am 5 foot 4 but still (always!) the bossy older sister.
He met a great girl, and they had a beautiful daughter, and I remember saying that I couldn’t believe that the kid whose diapers I had changed was now changing diapers of his own.
While he was studying for the GMAT, the voices started. We struggled for years to get him the right diagnosis and medications, and we were so proud of him for creating a good and kind life despite his struggles with mental health.
Last Wednesday, he was killed by police, in Millbrae, California. He was unarmed. He had committed no crime. So today, I helped my mother decide how to bury her son.
His name is now one of too many names.
Chinedu Valentine Okobi. He was a person. He was my little brother, he was a father, he was loved. Now he is gone, and our hearts are broken.
Black Lives Matter”.