Diante Yarber Shot Dead in Walmart Parking Lot


Courtesy of James Quigg

Friends and family of Diante Yarber gather outside the Barstow Police Department to protest police brutality.

Amanda Chung, Photojournalist

Diante Yarber, a 26 year old black man and a father of three, was met with a barrage of bullets in a crowded Walmart parking lot in Barstow, California on April 5. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

American has experienced yet another death of an unarmed black man, while the nation is still processing the tragedy that occurred just barely a month prior, regarding the shooting of Stephon Clark. Similar to Clark’s death, there are many questions surrounding the circumstances of the shooting.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the police were sent to Walmart  to investigate “a call of a suspicious vehicle.” Yarber was a suspect, wanted for questioning regarding a crime involving a stolen car. He was sitting in a black Mustang with three other people, and the police claim that he “suddenly reversed in a getaway attempt, crashing into two patrol cars and accelerated toward the officers” (Huffington Post).

Eyewitnesses of the scene heard as many as 30 gunshots that were fired at the Mustang by four officers, and three of the four people in it were injured. A 23-year-old female passenger was airlifted to a trauma center with multiple gunshot wounds. Her attorney, Dale Galipo said she “suffered serious injuries — two gunshot wounds that while no longer life-threatening are life-altering. He also mentioned that police training and rules dictate that officers aren’t allowed to shoot at a moving vehicle (LA Times).

Later on, it was revealed by Yarber’s aunt that the car he was driving was never reported stolen, and that it actually belonged to a family member. Additionally, investigation shows that Yarber was unarmed, and that “officers were not in the path of the vehicle when they fired” (VOX).

“They don’t have a justification for stopping this car. They saw a car full of black people in front of a Walmart and that was suspicious,” said S. Lee Merritt, a nationally known civil rights attorney now representing Yarber’s family. ” I don’t believe I have seen a more brutal shooting. They just began pouring bullets into the car in broad daylight. The car was barely rolling backward. You can walk faster than that.”

Ashley Bui-Tran (11) is mortified by this event. “I honestly can’t comprehend why these corrupt police officers aren’t getting put on trial for murder,” she says. “Every single time an innocent black man in killed, it seems like society just moves on and forgets it ever happened. When will we realize that this is a problem that needs to be fixed?”

Since 2014, Barstow police have worn body cameras, but as of now, no footage has been publicly released. Two of the officers that are responsible for the death of Diante Yarber have been placed on paid administrative leave, and their names still remain a secret to the public.