Diante Yarber: officer involved in killing was previously charged with hate crime

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Revealed: police confirm Jimmie Alfred Walker, who allegedly used racial slurs and attacked a man in 2010, was one of those involved in Yarbers death outside a Walmart in California

One of the police officers involved in the shooting of Diante Yarber, a young black man killed in a hail of bullets in a Walmart parking lot, was previously charged with a hate crime and fired from the force, the Guardian has learned.

A police spokesman in Barstow, California, confirmed late Monday that officer Jimmie Alfred Walker was one of the officers involved in the 5 April shooting. The death of the 26-year-old father of three sparked national backlash after it was revealed that officers had fired a barrage of rounds into a car, injuring a young woman and killing Yarber, who was believed to be unarmed.

Walker, who is white, was charged in 2010 with hate crime and battery charges after the then 30-year-old officer allegedly used racial slurs against a man and assaulted him and a woman while off duty. The officer eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of fighting in a public place and being drunk in public, while the battery charge and hate crime charge (violating civil rights by force or threat of force) were dropped, according to records obtained by the Guardian.

As part of his plea deal, Walker was forced to make a $200 donation to the NAACP and required to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings, the court documents show. The local newspaper Victorville Daily Press reported at the time that Walker was fired as a result, but that an arbiter later ruled that the termination was wrongful, forcing the city to reinstate him and pay him $163,000 in owed wages.

The Barstow police captain, Andrew Espinoza, confirmed to the Guardian that in addition to Walker, the other officers involved in the shooting of Yarber were corporal Jose Barrientos, officer Vincent Carrillo and officer Mathew Allen Helms. The department had previously refused to disclose the names despite intense pressure. Walker could not be reached for comment, and two attorneys who have represented him did not immediately respond to inquiries.

Blurry witness footage suggested that police may have fired more than 30 bullets into Yarbers car. Police have claimed officers were responding to a call of a suspicious vehicle and that Yarber was wanted for questioning in a stolen vehicle case. Officials further alleged that he accelerated the car towards officers when they tried to stop him, almost hitting one officer.

His family and attorneys, however, told the Guardian that the car Yarber was driving to the store with his cousin and friends inside, was not stolen, that he was unarmed and not a threat to the policemen, and that it violated basic law enforcement standards to fire into a packed vehicle.

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A photo of Diante Yarber, taken by the mother of his 19-month-old daughter. Photograph: Courtesy Brittany Chandler

Laywers representing Yarbers family and the surviving passengers in the car said Walkers history further supported their claims that it was unjustified and racially prejudiced to stop the vehicle and fire at the passengers.

We believe that it shows his improper motive and his bias and hatred of African Americans, said Sharon Brunner, an attorney for the 23-year-old woman injured in the vehicle. We believe that the only reason that he would believe the car was suspicious is because it contained African Americans.

Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Yarbers family, chastised the media for focusing on Yarbers previous run-ins with the law, given Walkers background: The relevant criminal record is the criminal record of the shooter. That has been absent from the discussion.

Marlon Hawkins, a 41-year-old man who was in the passenger seat, told the Guardian in a recent interview that he thought police targeted them because they were black: Its really disheartening that we have these demonic people out there claiming to protect and serve … What they did was nothing short of evil.

In a press conference last week, Merritt said officers did not provide medical aid to Yarber while he was bleeding to death in the car and that it appeared he was hit at least 10 times.

Yarbers death reignited protests surrounding US law enforcements treatment of black Americans following the recent police killing of Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old California man shot 20 times in his familys backyard.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/apr/30/diante-yarber-police-shooting-jimmie-alfred-walker-hate-crime-charge

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