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MILLBRAE: Chinedu Okobi Tasered and Killed Following Fight With San Mateo Police Officers


Oct 5, 2018

Chinedu Okobi Died After He Was Tasered By San Mateo Police Officers In Millbrae By El Camino Real

 MILLBRAE, CALIFORNIA (October 5, 2018) An unarmed 36-year-old man identified as Chinedu Valentine Okobi died after being tasered by San Mateo police officers following some sort of dispute.

Millbrae police are saying that Chinedu Okobi was running in and out of traffic by El Camino Real. Authorities are saying that Chinedu Okobi was then involved in a struggle with one of the police officers.

There are no details yet of how the situation escalated. Four additional deputies were called to the scene and at least one of them began using a taser on the victim before arresting him.

Chinedu Okobi was taken to the Mills-Peninsula Medical Center where he later died. All five deputies involved in the taser incident have been placed on paid leave.

The coroner’s office is still working to determine the cause of the death. An investigation into the incident remains ongoing at this time.

The Dangers of Tasers

Taser’s were first introduced to the public as “non-lethal” alternatives to traditional firearms. But this is far from an accurate representation of the history of tasers as they have been used by law enforcement. In many situations, victims have died as a result of being tasered promoting taser manufacturers to rebrand the devices as “less lethal.” Police officers have used tasers when no arrest is even taking place. A report by the Miami New Times detailed how police officers were using tasers on homeless people to get them to move or on the mentally ill who can’t follow instructions. In many circumstances tasers can bring on cardiac arrest. This is even more likely when a patient is suffering from a mental illness or is overdosing on drugs. Depending on the facts of the case,  a victim of police violence may be able to file a wrongful death claim in order to be compensated for their loss.

Liability In Deaths Involving Police Tasers

Police officers are supposed to go about their duties in the least intrusive means possible. Officers are permitted to use deadly force when their life is at risk, but when excessive force is used this may open the police department up to civil liability. Broadly speaking, there are three main types of claims that can be pursued against law enforcement after someone has died from being tasered:

  1. Excessive Force Claims:  When police officers use excessive force and injure or kill a suspect this is a violation of the suspect’s constitutional rights. In order to determine if the level of force that officer’s used was justified court’s have typically looked toward the “objective reasonableness” standard in Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 394 (1989). The reasonableness of the force will depend on the severity of the crime, the threat level of the suspect and whether the suspect is attempting to flee. Generally speaking, police officers should not continue to use tasers once a suspect has already been detained.

  2. Monell Claims: Police departments that have been “deliberately indifferent” towards the rights of the suspect may face civil liability. For example, when police departments knowingly allow (or tolerate) officers to violate policies about the use of force this could potentially qualify as deliberate indifference.

  3. Product Liability Claims: Finally, tasers can be dangerous on their own terms. A number of people have suffered cardiac arrest after being tasered and died as a result. This should not happen and may be indicative of a problem with the taser itself. A victim’s family may be able to file a claim against the company that manufactured the taser.

It can be hard to know where to begin if you’ve lost someone due to police violence. The sense of loss and grief can be overwhelming. A wrongful death attorney can take steps to help preserve your rights and make sure that you get justice for what has happened.

Getting Help From A Wrongful Death Attorney

We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Chinedu Valentine Okobi. What happened in Millbrae is absolutely tragic. There needs to be a thorough investigation into this incident and how these officers responded to the situation. Far too often, the police are using tasers on those suffering from a mental health crisis. Police officers need to get the right training on how to deal with these situations. We encourage anyone that may have witnessed what took place to reach out to investigators for the sake of all those that have been affected.

If you or someone that you love has died after being tasered by police officers you may have legal recourse. The personal injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can take steps to preserve key pieces of evidence associated with your case. Our goal is to make sure that our clients are well taken care of and that reckless police officers are held accountable for their actions. Whether you just have questions about your rights or are seeking legal counsel for your particular situation we are here for you. You can reach us anytime at (888) 888-9285.

 Sources:

  1. Patch California, News Partner. Man Died After Fight With San Mateo Deputies Identified. October 5, 2018
  2. Michael Tarleton. Suing the Police for Excessive Force. 2018
  3. Peter Eisler, Grant Smith and Jason Szep. Taser Deaths Produce at Least 442 Lawsuits Against Police, Municipalities: Reuters. August 27, 2018
  4. USA Amnesty International. Statement to the U.S. Justice Department inquiry into deaths in custody. December 2, 2007
  5. LAUREN KIRCHNER. THE VERY REAL DANGERS OF TASERS. January 2, 2018.

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