Police claim Diante was "wanted for questioning."
Diante Yarber was tragically shot 30 times while sitting in his black Mustang in a Walmart parking lot waiting for his friends and cousin. The tragic event took place on April 5th in Barstow, California and left passenger Marian Tafoya critically injured. Diante was 26-years-old and was a father of three.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department released a statement on the matter explaining the reason for the numerous bullets. Officers say Diante was “wanted for questioning in a recent crime involving a stolen vehicle.” The statement says that "officers attempted a traffic stop of the Mustang when the driver suddenly reversed the vehicle and struck one of the patrol cars. When the driver again accelerated toward the officers and struck a second patrol car, the officer-involved shooting occurred.”
Diante's aunt, Aleta, tells The Guardian that her nephew was driving her son's car that was not stolen. When she got the vehicle back, she saw no signs of damage that proved it rammed into a patrol vehicle. Her son was also in the car, but Aleta says he hasn't been able to "say much of anything" as he's still "very" traumatized."
“They saw a car full of black people sitting in front of a Walmart, and they decided that was suspicious,” Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, told the publication. “They just began pouring bullets. ... It’s irresponsible. It’s dangerous. It’s mind-boggling, the use of force.”
Lee released the following statement to The Root:
"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. Near 10 a.m. in a crowded parking lot, police officers decided to halt Yarber’s vehicle by unleashing over 30 rifle rounds in the windshield and driver-side door. Training and policy dictates that police should never fire at moving vehicles because it only increases the danger to others if they successfully disable the driver. The investigation has revealed Yarber was unarmed and that officers were not in the path of his vehicle when they opened fire. Yarber was struck an estimated two dozen times in the barrage of bullets. His backseat passenger, Marian Tafoya, was struck in her abdomen and leg and had to be airlifted to emergency treatment."