Family lawyer demands answers from Barstow police over fatal shooting of Diante Yarber

BARSTOW, Calif. (KABC) -- The attorney of a family whose son was shot and killed by police in a Barstow Walmart parking lot released witness video that shows the moments the shooting happened.

Lee Merritt, who represents the family of 26-year-old Diante Yarber, said his clients deserve answers from the Barstow Police Department.

On April 5, Yarber was with friends in the Walmart parking lot, Merritt said. Yarber was then waiting for one of those friends to return to the vehicle after shopping at the store.

During that time, authorities said they received a call about a suspicious vehicle in the parking lot and went to investigate. Around 10:53 a.m., authorities arrived and found the vehicle, a black Ford Mustang, stopped in a parking space.

The department said in a press released that officers got out of their patrol vehicles and commanded the driver to get out. At that point, they said the driver began accelerating in reverse, struck a patrol vehicle, moved forward toward officers then reversed again toward other officers and hit another patrol car.

At that instance, the department said officers opened fire on the vehicle.

In a statement, Merritt said a witness video shows that the Mustang was backing out slowly, not in an attempt to ram a police vehicle.

"We can see no justification for violating policy and procedure and employing deadly force in a situation where the vehicle presented no immediate danger to law enforcement. Moreover, firing over 30 rounds into a car occupied by four unarmed pedestrians in a crowded Walmart parking lot in the middle of the day was massively irresponsible and reckless," his statement said, in part.

Merritt and authorities said Yarber was killed and a woman in the passenger's seat was wounded. She was identified by Merritt as Marian Tafoya, who was shot in the abdomen and leg. She was airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center.

There were also two other men inside the vehicle, authorities said. One of the men suffered injuries to the lower part of his body while trying to get out of the vehicle during the commotion, while the other was detained and taken to the Barstow Police Department.

The injured man was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

Authorities said an officer sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the shooting. They also said the witness video does not depict the entire series of events.

In a statement, the department said those videos are part of the investigation.

"The Barstow Police Department has videos that captured the entire incident and we have turned those videos over to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department as part of the criminal investigation. Our procedure is not release videos that are part of an on-going investigation," the statement said, in part.

Merritt said the officers were irresponsible and violated police policies that state officers should not fire at a moving vehicle because it can increase the danger to others.

"Barstow PD confronted a vehicle full of people, suspected of nothing more than 'looking suspicious' with an amount (of) force that would have been deemed excessive in a war zone," he said in a Facebook post. "This is the worse case of excessive and unnecessary force I have seen in my career."

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