Barstow police failed to render medical aid after Diante Yarber shooting, family lawyer alleges


An attorney for the family of a black man who was shot to death by Barstow police said that an independent autopsy reveals Diante Yarber was struck by at least 10 rounds before he asphyxiated on his own blood.

Family attorney S. Lee Merritt also told reporters Monday that witnesses say officers never attempted to render aid to the dying man.

Yarber, 26, was behind the wheel of a black Ford Mustang in a Walmart parking lot when officers fired 30 rounds at the vehicle on April 5.


Barstow police have insisted their officers opened fire after Yarber shifted into reverse and hit a patrol car. They say he accelerated again toward officers standing near their vehicles.

Yarber was pronounced dead at the scene while a 23-year-old female passenger was airlifted to a trauma center with multiple gunshot wounds. Two other young men fled from the car during the incident, officials said.

Merritt said the independent medical examiner who was commissioned for the autopsy believes Yarber might have survived if officers had provided him medical aid at the scene.

Witnesses who were inside the car at the time of the shooting have said none of the officers tried to keep Yarber alive, according to Merritt and the witnesses’ attorney, Dale Galipo. “He sat there bleeding to death,” Galipo said of Yarber.

Merritt, who spoke on behalf of the family, called the officers’ actions unreasonable and said they should face criminal charges. “We want criminal accountability for these officers,” Merritt said.

Attorneys for the family and those in the car said they will also seek civil settlements.

Grainy cellphone video captured the sound of gunfire as police rounds pierced the vehicle, but the video does not show the full incident.

However, family members and attorneys say it belies the officers’ accounts of the shooting. The video, they say, appears to show the Mustang moving slowly backward as the officers fired.

Yarber, who was known as “Butchie,” was the father of three girls, ages 9, 7 and 1. His death spawned a march by about 100 protesters to City Hall and police headquarters earlier this month.

The incident came a month after the high-profile killing of another African American young man, Stephon Clark, by police in Sacramento.

The fatal shooting is now under investigation by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department homicide detectives. San Bernardino County will review that probe and decide whether to file charges.

Sheriff’s officials said Barstow officers had responded to a report of a “suspicious vehicle” prior to the shooting. Officers believed the driver was a subject wanted for questioning in a recent crime involving a stolen vehicle, they said. Officials won’t say whether Yarber was the person wanted.

Sheriff’s officials said that after they attempted to stop the Mustang, Yarber tried to flee — first reversing into one police cruiser and accelerating again toward officers and hitting a second patrol vehicle. At that point, officers opened fire. Two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave.

Yarber had prior convictions for escaping the police and misdemeanor domestic violence and was on three years’ probation at the time of the shooting. Court records show he was charged in March with violating his community supervision. Authorities have not said whether officers knew the driver’s identity.

Barstow city officials have refused to answer further questions about the shooting and have yet to respond to a request to identify the officers. “The city Police Department continues to stand firm in its commitment of full cooperation with the county Sheriff’s Department in this matter,” wrote Anthony Riley, a city spokesman.

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