Police officers in Barstow, California fired what sounded like more than 30 shots into a car in a Walmart parking lot, killing Diante Yarber, 26, and hitting 2 other passengers. Martin Tafoya, 23, was critically wounded in the unnecessary shooting.
Yarber, father of 3 girls, ages 9, 7, and 1, was unarmed when the excessive fatal force incident occurred, according to The Guardian.
On April 5, Yarber drove his cousin and friends to a local Walmart. Barstow police claim that they were responding to a call about a “suspcicious” vehicle in parking lot, when they spotted Yarber waiting in a black Mustang for his passengers to return from the store.
The sheriff’s office released a statement that had some false information, according to The Root.
According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department: “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.”
In the video below, it is clear that the front of the car Yarber was driving is not damaged. The back of the car is not visible in the video, but he clearly did not his a police vehicle with the front of his car as the sheriff’s office claims. The visible damage is from police shooting up the vehicle.
The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, trying to make Yarber look like the bad guy, claimed he was a “suspect wanted for questioning in a recent crime involving a stolen vehicle.” They did not say whether Barstow police realized this information before or after they killed the unarmed man.
Diante’s aunt, Aleta Yarber, says the police details are all wrong. She said the car belonged her son, who was in the car with his cousin, and it was never reported stolen. She also says there is no physical damage to the car that would indicate contact with police cars.
“Diante Yarber was profiled, stalked and murdered by Barstow PD officers,” S. Lee Merritt, attorney Diante Yarber’s estate and heirs, told The Root.
Merritt continued in a statement:
Barstow PD confronted a vehicle full of people, suspected of nothing more than “looking suspicious” with an amount force that would have been deemed excessive in a war zone. Near 10AM in a crowded parking lot, police officers decided to halt Yarber’s vehicle by unleashing over 30 rifle rounds in the windshield and driver side door. Training and policy dictates that police should never fire at moving vehicles because it only increases the danger to others if they successfully disable the driver. The investigation has revealed Yarber was unarmed and that officers were not in the path of his vehicle when they opened fire. Yarber was struck an estimated two dozen times in the barrage of bullets. His back seat passenger, Marian Tafoya, was struck in her abdomen and leg and had to be airlifted to emergency treatment.
“This is the worse case of excessive and unnecessary force I have seen in my career,” Merritt said. “The Yarber family deserves answers in the form of transparency by the Barstow Police Department. Body, dash and surveillance video must be turned over to my office immediately. The San Bernardino County district attorney must throughly investigate and zealously prosecute the gunman involved.”