A Barstow, Calif., police officer accused of being involved in the fatal shooting of driver Diante Yarber, a young father of three, was convicted of a hate crime back in 2010 but was somehow allowed to return to the police force, attorneys representing Yarber’s family and his passengers say.
Not only was the officer allowed back on the streets to police people he apparently despises, but Yarber’s attorney also says that the officers involved in his client’s death used racial slurs during the confrontation in early April.
One of the officers shouted “[expletive] we’re going to kill you,” attorney Lee Merritt claimed, citing interviews with witnesses, according to KABC-TV.
Back on April 5, Yarber drove with his cousins and friends to a local Walmart, and Barstow police were called to investigate a “suspicious” vehicle in the parking lot.
Officers claimed that while the officers were attempting to initiate a traffic stop, Yarber “suddenly reversed,” hitting one of the patrol cars. The driver had accelerated forward and hit a second patrol car when officers opened fire. In all, 30 bullets were fired at Yarber’s vehicle, with 10 of them striking him, ultimately killing him.
Attorneys say that the shooting was unjustified and also allege that officers failed to give aid to Yarber once he was hit.
“At no time did they see law enforcement attempt to render aid or resuscitate or help Diante Yarber at all,” Merritt said.
Barstow police have so far refused to name the officers involved, but Merritt identified one officer as Jimmie Alfred Walker, who is white. A Los Angeles Times report from 2010 shows that Walker, then 30, was arrested on hate crime and battery charges for using racial slurs while assaulting a man and a woman during a late-night altercation while he was off duty.
He was released on $50,000 bail following his arrest and was later allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and ultimately get his job back. Hell, he was even paid a settlement, KABC notes.
And now that same man is accused of killing an unarmed black man.
Of course, officers took time to claim that they feared for their lives. Barstow Police Chief Albert Ramirez Jr. dug up Yarber’s records, which include a prior police encounter.
Ramirez said that on March 18, Yarber was driving a stolen Hyundai when officers attempted to pull him over. He fled in the vehicle, leading officers on a chase, before jumping out of the vehicle and escaping on foot. Officers, unable to find him, issued a warrant for his arrest for stealing a vehicle and fleeing from police.
So on April 5, when officers pulled the license plate of the vehicle, which came back registered under Yarber’s name, they provided the information about him to police as they responded.
When Yarber’s vehicle struck the two patrol cars, they feared for their safety, so the story goes.
“The officers feared for their safety and the safety of others and an officer-involved shooting occurred,” Ramirez wrote in the Monday statement. “Four (4) officers fired rounds from their duty sidearms during the incident. All four (4) officers were wearing their department-issued body-worn cameras and had them activated and recording at the time of the incident.”
It’s interesting how police fear a black man who is accused of stealing a car and running away. However, a white man who shot up a Waffle House and allegedly killed four people was somehow apprehended alive and well with barely a scratch, and even given bail.
As always, there are two sides to the story, and witnesses who were inside the vehicle rebutted police accounts.
“The information related to the shooting is that the car was backing up very slowly when the officer opened fire at the car,” said Dale Galipo, an attorney representing two of the passengers who were in the vehicle at the time. One of Galipo’s clients was injured in the gunfire.
“In this case, it was totally unjustified,” he added. “No one was about to be killed. There was no reason to shoot him.”