Collage of a Black man in America

Why Is The Media Ignoring The Brutal Slaying Of Chinedu Okobi?

Rogue cops tasered the Nigerian-American to death

Ezinne Ukoha
Oct 15, 2018 · 7 min read

Why aren’t we hearing more about the thirty-six-year-old father of a sweet little girl, who was a creative writer and burgeoning musician, based in Redwood City, in Northern California — and sadly became the latest victim of police brutality?

Could it be due to the fact that he’s Nigerian-American, with a name that’s not easy to remember, which makes instituting a hashtag in his honor less desirable because of the unlikelihood of a viral effect?

Chinedu Okobi’s fatal encounter with five sheriff deputies on Oct. 4 ended with his death, and the vital questions remain unanswered as the details of that tragic incident fail to provide adequate information to satisfy those of us who are personally invested.

Even before investigating Okobi’s case, there was a familiar nagging that hovered, as I was forced to recall the horrific death of another American-based Nigerian, Matthew Ajibade, who was cruelly tortured while in police custody, almost three years ago — following a chaotic arrest at his home in Savannah, GA.

Ajibade was an art student who also struggled with mental illness, and this handicap played a major role that fateful night of his arrest, when his desperate girlfriend was helpless in her attempt to subdue him, and made the reasonable decision to call the police.

Based on his state of mind, that initiated his erratic behavior, the police officers undoubtedly had their hands full, and were definitely tested beyond procedural limits, which in the best case scenario should warrant the implementation of the skills that are meant to safely diffuse these types of emergencies.

Matthew Ajibade

But the White cops who arrived on the scene weren’t empathetic to the plight of a Black man, who was hard to restrain because his out-of-control disposition was heightened by his fragile condition. He was harboring a range of emotions that made it impossible for him to willingly surrender to uniformed men whose presence signaled immediate danger.

Matthew Ajibade’s fear was warranted, and it propelled him to fight for his life.

Unfortunately he was outnumbered and overpowered, and while his hysterical girlfriend screamed in the background after she tried but failed to convince the officers to be considerate of her boyfriend’s mental state — Ajibade was violently removed from the premises — bound and sweaty like wild beast — and promptly tossed in a vehicle for the arduous drive to his torture chamber.

What happened next is hard to process, and vividly demonstrates how the slave mentality that renders Black people as brutes that need to be disciplined with dehumanizing tactics — still serves a the fundamentals of police brutality.

Ajibade was chained to a “restraining chair” and endured hours of intense and relentless torture sessions that included getting repeatedly kicked in the head and having taser guns aimed at his genitals. The graphic video depicts what can only be described as a sadistic killing — as the victim has been stripped of his clothes, appears disoriented and disillusioned as he tries to make out his surroundings while the officers attack him with bigoted fury.

There was no humanly possible way to survive those dark hours of unfathomable torment, and Ajibade expectedly died while in the custody of badged murderers who had no intention of allowing him to walk out of that station alive.

They were directed to a Black man who was”crazy” enough to use as a punching bag. Instead of dutifully and patiently responding to an event that required high-level professionalism with the empathy that naturally accompanies humane instincts — these nine police officers chose to take advantage of a vulnerable Black man, suffering from bipolar disorder.

They exacted deadly physical harm — purely for their pleasure.

Ajibade’s autopsy results revealed that he succumbed to injuries stemming from “blunt force trauma to the head and upper torso,”

The reasons given for the extreme beating, and the mandatory placement in an isolation cell include; charges of domestic violence and battery, resisting arrest, and allegedly injuring at least three of the officers who were trying to manage Ajibade’s combative state.

All nine officers involved in the case were fired, with the ringleader, Jason Kenny receiving a one-month jail sentence and three years probation for the illegal use of a stun gun that was categorized as “cruelty of an inmate.”

There was no real justice for Matthew Ajibade and his bereaved family, when you consider the severity of the crime that took his life, at the hands of a system that’s designed on the principles of White supremacy.

There was also very little exposure given to this unspeakable tragedy, as most Nigerian outlets didn’t bother to highlight the gross injustice that befell a Nigerian who came to America to escape the stigma of his disease, and hoped to settle into a quality of life that was at the very least manageable.

Ajibade was killed for being Black and mentally challenged. Chinedu Okobi was killed for being Black and threatening.

Okobi’s “altercation” with five sheriffs happened in the middle of the day, as the Bay Area native was “running in and out of traffic,” and was eventually accosted by a sheriff’s deputy.

The “official story” describes Okobi becoming violent as he lunges towards the officer, which causes the other four deputies to swiftly dive in to rescue their comrade from the grip of the imposing and erratic Black man, who was resisting arrest and needed to be disciplined accordingly.

And what happened next was an extreme act of violence that was exacted on an unarmed man, who didn’t deserve to be tasered enough times to stop his heart.

John DeMartini, Alyssa Lorenzatti, Joshua Wang, Bryan Watt and Sgt. David Weidner are the five San Mateo police officers involved in the broad daylight killing of Chinedu Okobi, who was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

All five officers are on paid leave as the investigation into Okobi’s death progresses. And while we wait for the pertinent details to be released, the pending items are glaringly obvious, as we struggle with the skeleton testimonies that don’t quite add up.

But first off, why is the media ignoring the brutal slaying of Chinedu Okobi?

I only became aware of this horrific event after noticing the tweets of two users of Nigerian descent, who passionately expressed their disbelief at how the dire issue of police brutality had finally hit close to home.

Aside from those tweets, there was no other way for me to learn of the suspicious death of the Bay Area native, because major media outlets haven’t caught on to the story — that’s worthy of high exposure and the rallying cry on social media platforms — that never fails when something of this magnitude transpires.

Perhaps, the fact that the victim is an American of Nigerian descent makes his case less appealing to those who are typically roused to action when police brutality claims another member of the community.

Either way, Okobi’s death at the hands of police officers can’t be regulated to the background, with a downplayed sense of urgency — especially when the identity of his killer is still being protected by officials, as well as other pertinent details that need to be gathered and released to fill in the huge blanks in this disturbing equation.

We don’t know which of the five officers mercilessly tasered Okobi enough times to kill him, and we still don’t have concrete proof that he was unyieldingly combative, to the point that it required a team of officers to hold him down.

And then when that wasn’t sufficient — a supposedly non-lethal weapon was turned into the lethal weapon that finished him off.

When cops are faced with a Black man who’s built like an athlete, the killer instincts kick in, and a procedural arrest becomes a life and death battle that ends with the senseless slaying of an unarmed citizen, who was already dead, the moment he was forced off the road.

How did things escalate that quickly and why on earth was a Black man with his whole life ahead of him tasered to death?

As a Nigerian-American, this one is quite painful to digest because of the daily fear that fills me with dread when I imagine getting the call about my brothers or cousins. I’ve visualized that life-altering moment, and the overwhelming devastation that destroys the spirit. But I never added the betrayal of sparse reporting and non-existent mobilization on the platforms that don’t seem to recognize the worth of victims of a certain background.

Both Matthew Ajibade and Chinedu Okobi are two Black men who were systematically murdered by law enforcement officers, who are paid to accumulate as many Black bodies as they can muster.

It’s quite clear that the specific backgrounds of these targets aren’t ever taken into consideration. And neither is their mental state, as speculation persists about the possibility that like Ajibade — Okobi may have been experiencing “an episode” during his arrest.

Evidently the media only gives a damn about stories highlighting police brutality against Black people when there are enough “likes” and “retweets” to match a town’s population — otherwise it isn’t worth the time — and that’s an awful truth that needs be addressed.

In the meantime — we have to wait about ten weeks for the “full report” and while we hold our breath — let’s continue to fight for the justice of all the Black victims that will never breathe again.

#JusticeForChineduOkobi

Ezinne Ukoha

Written by

Juggling Wordsmith. I have a lot to say, so bear with me. https://medium.com/membership

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