California police fired what sounded like as many as 30 bullets when they shot and killed a black father of three in a Walmart parking lot two hours north of Los Angeles a few weeks ago. He was believed to have been unarmed.
In addition to killing 26-year-old Diante Yarber, the shooting in Barstow, California, on April 5 also injured a 23-year-old woman sitting in the back of his car. Police said they were responding to a call reporting a “suspicious vehicle” and mistakenly thought Yarber was wanted for questioning in a stolen vehicle case. When they tried to pull Yarber over for questioning, officers said, he put his car in reverse, accelerated, and struck their vehicle.
In blurry video taken by a bystander in the Walmart parking lot, Yarber’s car does move in reverse, and about 30 shots can be heard as people scream.
But when Yarber’s family retrieved the vehicle — which was Yarber’s cousin's car and not stolen — the frame showed no damage that would indicate a collision with another vehicle, Yarber’s aunt told the Guardian.
“The police took him away for no reason,” Brittany Chandler, the mother of Yarber’s 19-month-old daughter, Leilani, told the Guardian. “They are sick people for them to be able to shoot someone down in broad daylight.”
Yarber’s death came three weeks after Sacramento police shot 22-year-old black man Stephon Clark in the back seven times. The two officers responsible thought Clark was armed at the time. The department later clarified he was carrying a “toolbar”; in reality, all he had was a cell phone.
After Clark’s death, lawmakers in California introduced a bill to tighten the restrictions on the use of deadly force in the state. To defend using deadly force, all police officers currently need to show is a “reasonable fear” for their life or someone else’s when they reach for their weapon. That standard notoriously favors police, and legislators want police in the state to only be able to use deadly force if no other reasonable alternatives exist.
Law enforcement in California shot and killed 162 people in 2017, out of the 987 people killed by cops nationwide last year, according to the Washington Post. In 2018 so far, California police have killed at least 30 people, including Clark and Yarber. Of the nation’s top 15 police departments with the highest per-capita rates of police killings, five are in California, according to the ACLU. One of those five is San Bernardino.
Five days after Yarber’s shooting, protesters gathered in Barstow when the police refused to turn over any additional information about his death.
“We are here to say, ‘Stop killing us!’” said Wendy Jackson, a local Navy veteran and activist,, addressing cops at the rally, according to the local paper the Daily Press. “Your job is to arrest us and bring us before the people. So we are saying, ‘We want justice — we want justice and we want peace, but stop killing us in the streets.’”
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Cover image: Shante Harrison calls for peace at the entrance to the Barstow (CA) Police Department on Tuesday April 10, 2018. A group of protesters marched through town to protest the shooting of Diante "Butchie" Yarber in a Walmart parking lot. (James Quigg/Daily Press via AP)