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California county to pay $4.5 million settlement in death of man shocked by deputies’ Tasers

By Taylor Romine and Cheri Mossburg, CNN

The family of a 36-year-old Black man who died after sheriff’s deputies shocked him with Tasers in California’s San Mateo County in 2018 has reached a $4.5 million settlement with the county, the family’s attorneys announced.

The settlement between Chinedu Okobi’s family and the Northern California county was reached in August but has just become public, a release from law firm Pointer and Buelna LLP, which is representing the family, said Thursday.

CNN has sought comment from San Mateo County and the county sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said deputies in October 2018 confronted Okobi because he was running in and out of traffic, and that he subsequently assaulted one of them. In trying to subdue Okobi, deputies deployed Tasers several times, authorities said.

Okobi died of cardiac arrest after physical exertion, restraint and electro-muscular disruption, a pathology report from the coroner’s office said.

No deputies were charged in his death.

Okobi’s family and their attorneys had viewed a 25-30 minute composite video — made up of witness cell phone video, surveillance footage and deputies’ dashcam footage, San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe told CNN in 2018. The footage was released to the public in 2019.

Okobi’s sister said after viewing footage of the incident in 2018 that her brother was “getting tortured to death in broad daylight.”

In the family’s news release Thursday, an attorney said “the destiny of an unarmed Black man having a mental health crisis shouldn’t be death at the hands of police.”

“This happens far too easily and far too often and police officers should be regularly trained on de-escalation strategies for non-violent incidents, and not handed potentially lethal weapons with little training and no outside oversight,” Adanté Pointer, an attorney for Okobi’s mother, said.

Okobi was a Morehouse College graduate, a poet and a father to a young daughter, who was 12 years old at the time of his death, his family said.

The family is calling for reform in Taser use by law enforcement, saying the devices “kill hundreds of people like Chinedu every year,” the release said.

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CNN’s Chris Boyette, Susannah Cullinane and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

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