By Micha Green, AFRO Washington D.C. Editor, [email protected]
An errand to Wal-Mart turned fatal for 26-year-old Diante Yarber, who, on April 5, was waiting in a car with two people when police shot at the vehicle 30 times, killing him and seriously injuring another in Barstow, Calif. Now, relatives are demanding answers.
“The police took him away for no reason,” Brittany Chandler, the mother of Yarber’s 19-month-old daughter, told The Guardian. “The police should be held accountable for this… They are sick people for them to be able to shoot someone down in broad daylight.”
It all started when police in Barstow, an area about two hours outside of Los Angeles, got a call about a “suspicious vehicle” in the parking lot of Wal-Mart and attempted to do a routine “traffic stop” for the parked car. As in many cases of police killings, what happened in the following moments became a bit uncertain.
This is what the police say, according to The Root: “Officers attempted a traffic stop of the Mustang when the driver suddenly reversed the vehicle and struck one of the patrol cars. When the driver again accelerated toward the officers and struck a second patrol car, the officer-involved shooting occurred.”
Beyond the fact pictures of the car are surfacing with no apparent damage other than bullet holes, Yarber’s family and their legal team contend there was no reason to believe he was wrong in the first place. Yarber was driving a family member’s car that had not been reported as stolen.
Dale Galipo, an attorney for a 23-year-old woman who was in the car and injured by the bullets, said the investigation thus far has proven Yarber was unarmed and that the officers were not in the direct path of the car, thus eliminating him as a threat or revealing any cause for them using their guns and firing so many shots.
The other person in the car was Yarber’s cousin who did not sustain any shots. His mother, Aleta Yarber said, “He has not been able to say much of anything,” and called the experience “very traumatizing.”
Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, told The Guardian that the victim was likely shielding others from the bullets when he was hit. Additionally, he said, the 23-year-old woman who was injured was initially placed in a patrol car and treated like a suspect before she received medical attention.
With another African American dead at the hands of police, Yarber’s family and attorneys cannot help but assume things would have been different had he not been Black.
Chandler, who is White, said, “They would’ve never drawn their guns on me.
“They saw a car full of Black people sitting in front of a Wal-Mart, and they decided that was suspicious,” said Merritt. “They just began pouring bullets… It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. It’s mind-boggling, the use of force.”