Police shot and killed an unarmed 26-year-old black man in a crowded Walmart parking lot in Barstow, California, on April 5.
The Guardian reports that San Bernardino Sheriff’s deputies fired about 30 shots at Diante Yarber while bystanders screamed and tried to take cover.
Yarber was executed, while a 23-year-old woman in the car was shot twice, but survived.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office claims its officers were responding to a “call of a suspicious vehicle” and were doing a “traffic stop” when Yarber “suddenly reversed the vehicle,” hit a police car and accelerated.
However, Brittany Chandler, the mother of Yarber’s 19-month-old daughter, disagrees:
The police took him away for no reason. The police should be held accountable for this… They are sick people for them to be able to shoot someone down in broad daylight.
Lee Merritt, an attorney for Yarber’s family, described his take on the shooting:
They saw a car full of black people sitting in front of a Walmart, and they decided that was suspicious. They just began pouring bullets … It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. It’s mind-boggling, the use of force.
A police spokeswoman said the “involved officers” were placed on “paid administrative leave” while the department investigates its own deputies, but she refused to say how many bullets were fired and the names of the officers.
Dale Galipo, a lawyer representing the 23-year-old woman who was shot twice, said the investigation has revealed Yarber was unarmed and the officers were not in the path of the car and should never have fired.
Police claim that Yarber was “wanted for questioning” in a stolen vehicle case.
Yarber’s aunt, Aleta, said her nephew was driving his cousin’s car, which was never reported stolen.
Aleta said it did not appear that the car had rammed into police vehicles.
Aleta said her son was in the car at the time of the shooting:
He has not been able to say much of anything. It was very traumatizing.
Ruby Hawkins, Yarber’s sister, said the police often harassed her brother and the officers should be charged:
They are the biggest criminals. They are bullies with badges … I don’t know how you can fear for your life with a person that is moving away from you.
You see this all the time, but you never in a million years think you’ll be the one crying about a loved one killed at the hands of police.