El Cajon Police Shooting: Protests Erupt; Man Fatally Shot Identified
UPDATE: 9:30 p.m., Sept. 28, 2016
Protesters have remained mostly peaceful on the streets of El Cajon Wednesday evening.
They marched, sometimes through traffic, in the city’s downtown, but with few violent outbursts. They held signs and chanted “no justice, no peace,” “hands up, don’t shoot” and “black lives matter.”
Video from the scene showed at one point several protesters turning to attack a man wearing a Donald Trump baseball hat.
At another point, some of the protesters threw water bottles at police officers. Some protesters sat on the ground or linked arms in a circle.
UPDATE: 7:30 p.m., Sept. 28, 2016
El Cajon police have confirmed Alfred Okwera Olango, 38, was holding a vape pen when he was fatally shot by a police officer on Tuesday.
Olango was an El Cajon resident, police said.
In a news release, police said the vape smoking device was a silver cylinder and that Olango pointed it at a police officer. The vape was taken as evidence.
The news release also said that the El Cajon Police Department works with a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team of licensed clinicians who can help on mental health calls. During the time when police responded to Olango, "that team was on a different radio call" and "were not immediately available."
UPDATE: 4:30 p.m., Sept. 28, 2016
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells asked residents to remain calm in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
"I understand that they don’t feel heard," he said. "I understand that they’re wanting more information."
He said the San Diego County District Attorney will release video of the shooting after its investigation is complete. Wells said he has watched the video and it pained him.
"I saw a man who was distraught, a man who was acting in ways that looked like he was in great pain, and I saw him get gunned down and killed and it broke my heart," he said. "If it was my son, I would be devastated."
Wells also identified the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed man as Richard Gonsalves.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press is reporting that police shot and killed Alfred Olango a minute after arriving near a strip mall to investigate a report of a mentally unstable person walking in and out of traffic, an official said Wednesday.
El Cajon Police Department spokesman Lt. Rob Ransweiler said two officers arrived at the scene at about 2:10 p.m. Tuesday. Ransweiler says the shooting happened at 2:11 p.m.
He said police received the report about the mentally unstable person at 12:57 p.m. but did not immediately respond because they had other calls for service.
Parkway Plaza, a shopping mall in El Cajon, temporarily shut down Wednesday afternoon. In a Facebook post, the mall stated it will closed closed due to demonstrations in the area.
Community activists and faith based leaders gathered in front of the El Cajon police station Wednesday morning to talk about the police shooting of a black man on Tuesday.
Religious leaders joined community organizers and concerned citizens to express their outrage over the shooting death of Alfred Olango.
Community organizer Armand King of Paving Brighter Futures said he has no doubt about what happened.
“They murdered somebody last night. Somebody in here murdered somebody last night. Come on. Somebody’s at home with their family and somebody’s dead right now,” King said.
Four lit candles sat on the curb where Olango was killed Tuesday. Gone was the yellow police tape that separated officers and angry protesters on Tuesday night. The morning rally was emotional but peaceful.
Eddie Price, a businessman in El Cajon, said he is fighting to understand the emotions he’s feeling. Price said he wept openly when he found out about the killing which reflects too many other police shootings around the nation.
“You know this young man allegedly was a refugee. He came here seeking refuge. Refuge. And this is how we treat people seeking refuge,” Price said. “But these feelings that I’m feeling right now are not new. This is not a justice problem. This is past justice. This goes into the morality of humanity. Everybody ought to be conflicted about this. Imagine if this was you. Imagine if this happened to you every day of your life and you can count like clockwork that someone is going to get disrespected today. Just because of the color of their skin.”
Estella Del Rios, a civil rights activist from El Cajon, said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has never ruled a police shooting unjustified. That’s why Del Rios wants an outside party to look at what happened and to make a determination.
“This is a life,” Del Rios said. “A life that matters and I just want to say we demand as a community, a federal prosecution. We know there’s a photo out there that tells just one story, one side of the story. The family needs answers they need it now.”
UPDATE: 1:40 p.m., Sept. 28, 2016
The man fatally shot by police in El Cajon has been identified as Alfred Olango, a refugee from Uganda.
Agnes Hassan, originally from Sudan, said she spent time in a refugee camp with Olango.
She said they both suffered to get to the U.S. and described Olango as well-educated but mentally ill.
Olango's sister called police Tuesday afternoon and said he was acting erratically.
Two El Cajon officers who responded told him to raise his hands but police say instead Olango pulled something from his pocket and took what they described as a shooting stance.
One officer fired a Taser and the other shot Olango several times. Police later said Olango was unarmed.
Christopher Rice-Wilson, associate director of the civil rights group Alliance San Diego, questioned why one of the officers felt non-lethal force was appropriate while the other did not.
He was among those who identified Olango on Wednesday.
UPDATE: 11:00 a.m., Sept. 28, 2016
Dozens of people peacefully protested the fatal shooting of a black man by police in El Cajon Wednesday morning.
Demonstrators gathered outside the El Cajon police headquarters, chanting "no killer cops" and "black lives matter."
The shooting happened Tuesday in a strip mall when officers responded to calls about a man acting erratically.
Police say he ignored commands and pulled an object from a pocket and pointed it in a "shooting stance."
Officers simultaneously fired a stun gun and a firearm.
Speakers at the demonstration included pastors who said they had spoken to the man's relatives.
The Rev. Shane Harris of the civil rights group National Action Network said that the man's sister had called 911 and reported that her brother was acting out but made it clear he had mental health issues.
UPDATE: 7:20 a.m., Sept. 28, 2016
Community leaders had arranged a gathering at the El Cajon police station the day after an officer fatally shot an unarmed black man.
Mark Arabo and El Cajon church leaders were set to appear.
In a statement, Arabo said:
"Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims family of todays shooting. It is most important now that we remain calm, and united. While there is uncertainty surrounding the shooting, I ask that every diverse member of El Cajon remain peaceful and mindful of the example that we continue to set for our nation. With that being said, we are calling upon a thorough investigation of the shooting by an independent entity. We cannot move forward unless we receive answers."
An unarmed black man shot by El Cajon police on Tuesday afternoon has died as a result of his injuries, according to the police department.
Jeff Davis, the chief of police in El Cajon, would not identify the man in a news conference Tuesday evening.
Davis said the man held up an object with both arms and aimed it at two police officers. One of the police officers then shot him, while the other officer tased him. Davis said the object has been recovered, but that it was not a weapon. He would not say what the object was.
The shooting drew an angry cluster of protesters who stayed late into the evening. Many said they believed it to be another instance of law enforcement shooting an unarmed black man.
Several dozen people, most of them black, gathered and some cursed at officers guarding the scene in El Cajon after the shooting.
Many were chanting "black lives matter!" and "hands up, don't shoot!"
Police received calls of a man “not acting like himself” in the 800 block of Broadway at around 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, Davis said.
He said "one of the reporting parties" identified herself as the man's sister.
"The initial call was almost 50 minutes before we responded because it calls for service," Davis said. "It did take us that long to clear officers to get out there."
The man, who Davis described as an African male in his 30s, was walking in traffic.
He said the man "refused multiple instructions by the first officer on the scene and concealed his hand in his pants pocket."
A second officer then arrived and prepared to taser the man while the first officer covered him, Davis said.
"The subject paced back and forth while officers tried to talk to him," Davis said. "At one point, the subject rapidly drew an object from his front pants pocket, placed both hands together and extended them rapidly toward the officer taking up what appeared to be a shooting stance."
One officer then tased the man while the other officer with the gun "discharged his weapon several times," hitting the man, Davis said.
Davis said a witness gave detectives a video of the shooting she'd recorded on her cell phone. He said it was the only video provided and that no other cell phones were taken from bystanders.
So far the video "all coincides with officers’ statements," Davis said. He said both officers had more than 21 years of police service and are now on administrative leave.
Davis thanked the community of El Cajon for their restraint and asked them to remain calm.
"Now is the time for the community to work with us and provide any information," he said.
Several dozen people also gathered outside the El Cajon Police Department after the news conference. Some said they not trust the police version of the events.
Tia Loper, an El Cajon resident, said the area where the shooting occurred often sees homeless, mentally ill people and drug addicts. She said the police treat the white ones with relative respect.
"If there’s a black person that is on drugs, or looks disheveled, or walking down the street making noise, they’re not going to be treated the same way," she said. "And it’s not fair. It’s a discrepancy that has to stop."
Police said the man did not have his hands up when he was shot, as some witnesses have said, and police say the cellphone video shows this.
Michael Ray Rodriguez was among the witnesses who said the man had his hands in the air. He said that he was driving out of his apartment complex past the shooting scene and saw a shirtless black man with his hands up and an officer firing seconds later.
The officer "let go of the trigger and shot him again and again," Rodriguez told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
One woman who appeared in a video posted by Rumbie Mubaiwa on her Facebook page is heard telling police at the scene that the man was ordered to take his hand out of his pocket.
"I said: 'Take your hand out your pocket, baby, or they're going to shoot you.' He said 'no, no, no,' " the woman said. "When he lifted his hand out ... he did have something in his hand but it wasn't no gun, and that's when they shot him."
On Mubaiwa's tape, a woman wearing hospital-style scrub clothing who said she was the man's sister appeared distraught, repeatedly shrieking and crying, telling officers that she had called them to help her brother.
"I just called for help, and you came and killed him," she said.
"Don't you guys have crisis communications teams to talk to somebody mentally sick?" she asks.
A new policy by the San Diego County District Attorney's office requires release of such officer-involved shooting footage, but it was unclear when that would happen, Davis said.
Davis said while the department would not immediately release the video recorded by a witness, it would release a still image captured from the video that shows the man pointing an object at the officers.
The police department is working on a program to have officers wear body cameras, but none have been issued, Ransweiler said.