Fatal police shooting of unarmed black man in Walmart lot 'massively irresponsible and reckless': Attorney

The family of Diante Yarber, a 26-year-old father of three, wants answers.

April 21, 2018, 5:36 PM

The family of an unarmed black man who died in a hail of police bullets at a Walmart parking lot is still looking for answers -- days after video surfaced that captured the cacophony of gunfire from police officers shooting into the car he was driving.

Diante Yarber, a 26-year-old father of three, was behind the wheel of a black Ford Mustang when Barstow police officers fired more than 30 rounds into the vehicle earlier this month.

Diante Yarber, 26, appears in this undated photo posted to Facebook by Lee Merritt.
Lee Merritt/Facebook

"There's no justification for what they did to him," Nakia Little, Yarber's sister, told ABC News station KABC. "It's like I'm in a twist between anger and hurt."

Little's anguish comes as video emerged showing officers repeatedly firing into the vehicle on April 5. They responded to a call "regarding a suspicious vehicle" after a car was reported stolen earlier, according to the Barstow Police Department.

Diante Yarber, 26, was driving this Ford Mustang when Barstow police officers shot into the vehicle and killed him.
Elyce Gray

When the officers arrived to perform a traffic arrest at the store's parking lot, officers exited their cars and "commanded the driver to exit his vehicle," according to a Barstow Police Department release.

Police say Yarber -- who was in the vehicle with three passengers, all of whom survived -- "accelerated forward toward the officers, and then accelerated in reverse towards officers and striking another patrol vehicle," according to the release.

The Barstow Police Department did not immediately respond Saturday to ABC News' request for comment.

Meanwhile, the video, posted online by attorney S. Lee Merritt, shows the Mustang apparently pinned between two marked Barstow Police Department cruisers and then slowly reversing into one of them as a fusillade of bullets can be heard firing.

Diante Yarber, 26, was driving this Ford Mustang when Barstow police officers shot into the vehicle and killed him.
Elyce Gray

Merritt has been retained by the family and has already declared that they are going to pursue a lawsuit for Yarber's shooting death, according to KABC.

"Video evidence shows the black Ford Mustang Yarber was operating backing slowly away from police when they opened fire," he told the station.

He also told KABC that the officers' "firing over 30 rounds into a car occupied by four unarmed pedestrians in a crowded Super Walmart parking lot in the middle of the day was massively irresponsible and reckless."

Police argued the footage of the Mustang slowly reversing into the police cruise only shows the moments after Yarber allegedly rammed the squad car.

Anthony Riley, a public information officer for the Barstow Police Department, said in the statement that one officer involved suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

A woman in the Mustang struck by the gunfire was airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center, according to the statement. The other two men in the car exited the vehicle and were detained by Barstow Police.

Diante Yarber, 26, was driving this Ford Mustang when Barstow police officers shot into the vehicle and killed him.
Elyce Gray

Yarber's family released footage of the gunshot-riddled Mustang showing bullet holes on the cracked front windshield. The camera also pans over the side window where the interior of the car is completely destroyed in the aftermath of the shooting.

Friends and family of Diante "Butchie" Yarber mourn as protesters filled the parking lot of the Barstow police department in this April 10, 2018 file photo in California.
James Quigg/Daily Press via AP, FILE

Yarber's death comes several weeks after a separate police-involved fatal shooting of an unarmed black man. On March 18, two Sacramento cops fired 20 shots at Stephon Clark, who was only carrying a cell phone.

That killing was followed by a spate of protests and civil unrest.

Editor’s note: The headline on an earlier version of this story misstated the location of the shooting. It was in the Walmart parking lot.

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