The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office has concluded its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Chinedu Okobi, which occurred on October 3, 2018 after a physical struggle with five deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office on the 1400 block of El Camino Real in Millbrae. While the loss of life following contact with law enforcement is a tragic and traumatic event for all those involved, we have determined based upon a review of all the evidence that the use of force by the deputies under the circumstances encountered by them on that date was lawful pursuant to the provisions of California Penal Code Section 196.
The investigation included interviews of numerous witnesses, including the deputies involved, emergency personnel who responded to assist, and witnesses who observed portions of the incident. In addition, we obtained and reviewed over six hours of audio and video recordings of the incident from both law enforcement and civilian sources. These included cell phone video, patrol car forward-facing video and audio recordings and surveillance video from nearby cameras. Additionally, we reviewed the report of the Pathologist relating to the cause of death, and finally, we engaged the services of an expert on the use of force to analyze the actions of the individual deputies as this incident unfolded.
In the interest of full transparency, we are making the majority of this investigation available for public review. On this page you will find links to:
- Over 30 minutes of audio and video providing a chronology of the incident. The video makes use of the clearest depictions of the events that transpired. The entirety of the audio and video evidence that was collected (with redactions as required by law) will be made available for review by appointment.
- The letter from District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe to Sheriff Carlos Bolanos detailing his findings and conclusions regarding the use of force;
- The Report of Jeffrey A. Martin, J.D. entitled “Chinedu Okobi Arrest-Related Death Analysis”;
- The complete set of investigative reports, redacted as required by law to protect personal privacy, including the report of the Pathologist.
Please note that the role of the District Attorney is not to evaluate the efficacy of departmental tactics or training for effecting arrests, or to consider issues of civil liability. Such analyses are conducted by other professional bodies or governmental agencies with the goal of identifying areas for improvement in future similar encounters. They take advantage of the benefit of hindsight or of information not known to the involved peace officers, such as particularized information about the subject’s physical or mental health. The role of the District Attorney in evaluating the use of force by officers is to judge the conduct and actions from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene at the time of the incident with the information available in a rapidly evolving high stress encounter.
Consequently, having found that the involved deputies acted lawfully here, we have concluded our investigation and will take no further action.