San Mateo County, Ca., agreed to pay $4.5 million to the family of a Black man who died in 2018 after a sheriff’s deputy repeatedly used a Taser on him during a struggle that began when law enforcement officers saw the man jaywalking on a busy street. Chinedu Valentine Okobi, 36, died on Oct. 3, 2018, after the struggle that day with deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department in Millbrae, 15 miles south of downtown San Francisco. Video made public in 2019 showed one of the deputies using his Taser several times against Okobi, before he was restrained and became unresponsive. Officials said he died of cardiac arrest, the New York Times reports. In 2019, the family of Okobi, a father and college graduate, filed two federal lawsuits, alleging that the county and the law enforcement officers involved in the episode had violated Okobi’s civil rights and wrongfully caused his death. The settlement became public when the San Francisco Standard, which said it had obtained access to the documents through a public records request, wrote about it.
Michelle Durand, a spokeswoman for San Mateo County, said, “It is certainly the largest law enforcement-related settlement in anyone’s memory,” adding that the $4.5 million is covered by the county’s insurance. The news came amid renewed conversation surrounding police brutality in light of the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died last month after being beaten by police in Memphis. John Burris, the Oakland-based civil rights attorney who represented Okobi’s mother, said that while the family was content with the settlement, it has always been more concerned with reforms in the use of Tasers by police.