BARSTOW (CBSLA) — The family of an unarmed man who was shot and killed in a Barstow Walmart parking lot this month is demanding justice.
Attorneys for the victim’s family say the preliminary autopsy shows officers used excessive force — and they’re filing suit.
Cell phone video captured the moment officers opened fire on a car at the Barstow Walmart earlier this month.
“You can hear approximately 30 shots, we know at least 10 struck the driver,” attorney Dale Galipo said.
That driver, 26-year-old Diante Yarber, did not survive. His family members — some who were in the car with him at the time of the shooting — are now hoping attorneys can get them some answers.
“Here we have again, another unarmed black man being shot and killed by the police,” Galipo said.
Barstow police say Yarber may not have had a gun that day, but they say he was using the black Mustang he was in as a weapon, hitting several police cars as he tried to get away from officers. That’s why they say four officers were forced to open fire, even though they were in a busy Walmart parking lot with other people around.
“At that time, they were in fear for their safety, they were in fear for their partners and other people in parking lot if that actually continued,” Barstow Police Capt. Andrew Espinoza said.
They say Yarber not only had a criminal past, he had run from police after being found in a stolen car just a month earlier. As a result, Espinoza said they were on high alert when they recognized him at the Walmart.
“They conducted the traffic stop and they actually saw him. He was the driver. He opened the door, he communicated with them, they ordered him out of the vehicle,” Espinoza said.
They say investigators are now reviewing the officer’s body cameras that show that interaction. But the family’s attorneys say there was still no reason to shoot so many times and not to rush Yarber to a hospital afterwards. According to their preliminary autopsy, he died of asphyxiation, choking on his own blood.
“… Which indicates to a medical professional that he struggled to survive and he was neglected treatment for a great deal of time,” attorney Lee Merritt said.
Yarber’s funeral will be held this Friday. His family says it will be open to the public.