Videos Released By El Cajon Police Show Fatal Shooting Of Alfred Olango
Still run high after Tuesday's police shooting of Alfred Olango. And meeting have been this morning and rallies are planned for tomorrow. Homeless advocates disagree on the best way to do with the number of people living on the streets . This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Alison St John. Protests of the police shooting in El Cajon did turn somewhat violent last night with car Windows being broken in glass bottles being thrown in officers shooting pepper balls. This Monday it was a much different scene. [ Music ] following that I talked to -- The prayer service this morning was calming and affirming and it is a sign of getting together in this community as clergy. What support are you getting from the community around San Diego? The community outside of El Cajon has been tremendously supportive. Most of us in El Cajon we have friends that are throughout the city and we've called on them and they've responded and some were even here in support with us. They have been praying with us and asked us what can we do to assist you guys. That you have a pretty good turnout for the meeting this morning? Yes, we did. I believe we had at least 30 pastors of the were here or maybe even more. Members of the community of El Cajon? Yes, members of the communities as well. So what was your message this morning? My message and this morning was that we need to come together to pray for the peace of the city. We need to do it United and the tragedy of what happened to offered along go -- Alfredo Longo is something that needs to move us forward with truth and transparency and to change lives and change the city so we need to take up positive step forward from this. Some people might be encouraged to hear your message and wondering about the presence of people like yourself and your congregation members at rallies in the evenings as well as during the day. Do you have a strategy of being there and El Cajon on the streets and people come out to protest? It is what we call a ministry presence. We need to be there and to walk alongside a people and to talk to people not to just talk but also to hear them and to really listen. That was part of her message that we need to begin to listen to what another so that we can hear and have people express their heart. To get the understanding and then see if there's something that we can do to connect with resources or to solve the situation. I understand that you have a connection with the victim's mother? I do not have a connection with her. I know that a Reverend has been with the family I know Reverend Harris and anything that he needs in terms of support for the family, I am willing to do what I can to help him. I don't think they need to be overwhelmed by a whole bunch of clergy coming thing and saying I know her or I've spoken to her. I've heard her yesterday in the press conference and what a powerful woman and strong woman. She is part of an exclusive club that no mother would want to be a part of. At there's anything I can do to help her, I would love to do that I don't need to go over to her home to express that I can do that through Reverend Harris and through other means. But you will be there tomorrow? Yes, I will be there tomorrow. Thank you for joining us. Thank you. That was a pastor and a pair of ritual will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning at Prescott prominent part at El Cajon. Another rally his plan tomorrow at noon. Shane Harris is the president of the action network and his been in contact with the family and they held a press conference yesterday afternoon. It is not easy. We needed someone to take care of it and that is all it was for. So much pain to deal with. We spoke to Shane Harris a few minutes ago about tomorrow's rally with the family. In the midst of crisis right now, there's no telling what is going to happen today. There's been a call for the tape to be released. We are hearing that there is no protocol concerning -- that there is protocol that currently the family definitely needs to know if there is any tape released. Certainly, in the midst of today in all this going on, we want to make sure that the family is getting the information if the tape is being close to being release. We have been calling for to happen so we don't know what will happen. Tomorrow we are calling a unity rally, clergy and leaders from all of the city need to reach out to the national action network. They can call us and naked get more information about this unity rally. The family want to send a clear message that piece of nonviolent protest in El Cajon is the way to go and that is what they're calling on. We are starting to see them. Also we are going to put up -- we need people to join us on the call. We need to take care of this family's funeral costs and support them in any way we can for the long-term and not the short-term. Shane, we've had you on this program before to talk about events after police shootings. Did you ever think this would happen here in San Diego? Well, the city -- I did and I said it would happen here because the city has an air against. We believe -- the Bible said pride comes to for the fall . This is a clear sign of that pride. The city has an air against because it is not had -- people come out and say this is not Ferguson and this is not this. Now this is San Diego. In the middle of the crisis that we are not going through how are we going to respond and we have seen -- it is horrific because the city was not prepared. Apart for demanding from the release of the video what else are you asking for? What changes are you asking for? We are asking -- obviously the release of the video is very important. We are also asking for people to get financially behind his family. Taking care of him and also to not break windows and to not blow up buildings. We are trying to send a clear message to the institution not just dealing with protest and blowing fires up and doing all kinds of stuff. We need to respond effectively, strategic -- strategically, prayerfully and have a call for justice that is fair and effective a. You know of other members of different faith communities are planning to be apart of this rally to help keep the peace? We hope that the well. From what we are hearing from someone who will be involved, -- currently you have a division of people who don't understand what standing behind a family looks like. This family just needs people to say I don't have to be in the front of the line but we will support you and we are going to stand behind you and put some money toward this funeral and help you out with this process. That is the kind of faith leaders in the faith leadership we need in the city right now. So it is specifically to support his family. One questioned you know if the family is thinking of any kind of legal action at this point? I cannot go into detail about that because of this point they are finalizing some things. What I can say is they do believe there is injustice and they do -- they are searching for facts along with us and that is what is going to be the prime factor. The rally will be tomorrow and it will begin at the righteous living ministry church. A unity rally and March we will assemble at the church. We will leave at 1:00 to head for the Police Department and we are calling on all of those clergy and leaders were calling for peace and justice and action. Okay. Thank you for joining us. Thank you. That was Shane Harris who is the chapter president of the national action network which plans to hold the rally tomorrow at noon. We had planned to speak with Andre who was meeting with the District Attorney's Office this morning to push for release of the cell phone video of the shooting on Tuesday. However, we have no firm news on whether the tape will be released and no word from our guest. We believe that conversation for now. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition on KPBS. A homeless advocacy group in San Diego has a plan to house 100s of people were living on the streets. Susan tells us not everyone thinks it is a good idea. Nearly 5000 homeless people across San Diego County sleep on the streets. Many are hunkered down on sidewalks and the East Village while tents are surrounded by soiled clothes and piles of garbage. Those wandering the streets with their overloaded carts or mix of people with mental illness, drug addition and economic hardship. Workers the emergency beds are full and waiting lists are months long. There is not an alternative to being homeless right now. Bob McElroy is CEO. He said it is reach a crisis level now he has applied to take as many as 800 people off the streets and put a roof over their heads. He is calling his project a Central Intake center. It is a place for men, women, families, folks who are ready to acclimate into a communal setting like the dormitories setting. There will be a park area where people can stay in their tents but they will be say. They can bring their belongings and pets. They will have medical clinics and mental health, Veterans Administration, social security, meals. All the services will be provided at one spot to start the process of recovery while we wait for the permanent housing programs to open up. The location would likely be on city-owned land near downtown. There is a couple of sites that we are looking at their are acres. Downtown businesses and community members are willing to help fund the project because they're overwhelmed with homeless living of their front doors. He is been talking to committees about his proposal. The people would be appreciative and pitch in and help. He says he a strong backing from city leaders. The mayor's office did not respond to requests for comment but not everyone likes the idea. Putting a ton of money into this make a shelter that people are moving away from is like shooting ourselves in the foot. It is almost unbelievable that we are still stuck in the past in San Diego. Homeless advocate Michael McConnell spoke to us by phone where he is meeting with homeless outreach groups. He said permanent support is only proven solution. Lori have over one thousand emergency shelter beds in San Diego. If that was a solution, then we would have been solving homelessness a long time ago. Convincing some of the homeless to go into a large shelter could be a challenge. Many have survived on the streets for years and comfortable with their lifestyle. We talk to people living on 17 street about why the decline shelters and this is Catherine. I don't not like living indoors. I'm doing my own program and it is working for me. I am not -- I despise bed bugs. The. Me. He she said she is on several waiting lists. They said they don't know. He said the homeless will come to the center because they know him and trust men. We ran the show the program in San Diego for 18 years and all those folks would come because it is low barrier and it is safe and nurturing and 87% of my stuff for people who have been there done that. His winter tents housed over 2500 people. His proposed Central Intake center would house for times as many people he hopes to open the center within a few months. If they say Bob, let's go do it, we will go do it. The community is on board, the residence are on board and certainly the folks that we reach out to everyday onboard. He agrees permanent housing is needed but that could take years. He says people need help now. That is what our job is to get our folks back and having quality-of-life. Stay with us for the Roundtable coming up in a few minutes with more on the aftermath of this week shooting. Right now we have a couple of minutes to talk to our arts calendar reporter Nina Garin about something that is coming up this weekend and last week we do not have a chance to talk. Tell us about the trolley dances. What is sad by a mention that this is the last weekend to catch trolley dances. That is the event where we can see site specific dances along the trolley line. This year it is special because Monica is back and people might remember her as the one who goes around the world with glass and dances. She was trained in San Diego and she is doing a piece that takes dance and puts it into the sports world. She takes it a really funny look at that. I understand there's also someone who was disabled and choreographing his stance on crutches. Yes, he is really special. His name is Bill Shannon. He is a disabled choreographer who uses crutches to get around and uses the crutches to dance. He doesn't use any music what he does is put microphones around the area and uses the sound as what he moves to. He is spontaneous. It is something you should catch. Work of people catch this? You start in Logan and then their are guarded chores that take you along three sites on the blueline. It starts at 10 and you can catch every 30 minutes and talk to. Thank you very much.
UPDATE: 8:10 p.m., Sept. 30, 2016
About 150 to 200 protesters are gathered in El Cajon Friday night. The protests have been largely peaceful so far.
Some protesters participated in a prayer circle, while others chanted "touch one, touch all."
Reporter Erik Anderson is on the scene and will post updates on his Twitter feed.
UPDATE: 5:41 p.m., Sept. 30, 2016
An attorney representing the Olango family disputes claims made in an El Cajon Police Department press briefing about the shooting death of 38-year-old Alfred Olango. Police Chief Jeff Davis told reporters Friday his department offered to let family members of Olango view surveillance and cell phone video of the incident, but they declined to watch.
The attorney, Dan Gilleon, said the family did not turn down the meeting but, rather, needed more time to get to the meeting. Gilleon said the family was not informed the video would be released to the media.
Gilleon called one of the officer's shown in the video "a cowboy with his gun drawn provoking a mentally disturbed person" into reacting, according to the Associated Press.
UPDATE: 3:31 p.m., Sept. 30, 2016
El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis said the decision to release the video was unanimous among city and county leaders, including San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
"We believe it is essential to provide the community with as much information as possible at this point," Davis said.
He said the release was intended to counter "misinformation" that was being spread by people who haven't been identified as witnesses. He says the misinformation was "misleading and had the potential'' to spark unrest.
The chief showed two videos, beginning with surveillance footage from a nearby drive-thru restaurant that shows an officer's vehicle arriving on scene Tuesday afternoon.
In later footage from the same source, which did not have audio, Alfred Olango is seen walking backward as Officer Richard Gonsalves follows him. He turns around and continues walking away, then faces Gonsalves before walking toward a parked truck. Olango seems to pace back and forth as a second officer, identified as Officer Josh McDaniel, arrives and exits his vehicle. Gonsalves stops in front of Olango facing him, blocking him from the camera's view. Olango appears to abruptly step to the side then falls to the ground, after he is presumably fired upon by Gonsalves. Authorities have said at that time, McDaniel also deployed his Taser.
Davis also showed a witness video from a similar angle that was filmed on a cell phone and included audio.
The video shows the seconds before Olango is killed. Gonsalves's position blocks a direct view of Olango, but soon after the video begins, four shots can be heard, followed by screams from nearby witnesses.
Davis said family members were contacted this morning regarding the release, but they declined to watch the footage.
A Psychiatric Emergency Response Team member, who often accompanies law enforcement officers on mental health disturbance calls, was not available at the time, Davis said.
The team was en route after leaving another call but didn't arrive at the scene in time, he added.
UPDATE: 2:44 p.m., Sept. 30, 2016
After a late start, law enforcement authorities and elected officials addressed media awaiting the release of footage that shows the deadly shooting of Alfred Olango.
NAACP San Diego President Andre Branch commended authorities for reversing their stance to not release the video.
"Full disclosure to the public builds trust and it demonstrates respect," Branch said. "So we are quite pleased that Chief Davis has decided to take this action."
Ahead of the video's showing, United African American Ministerial Action Council Reverend Gerald W. Brown urged the community to "move forward in peace."
"It's OK to protest but we want folks to protest in peace," Brown said. We want to make sure that everyone is safe, everyone gets home. We want to make sure that the officers are safe as well."
UPDATE: 2:33 p.m., Sept. 30, 2016
On its website, Downtown El Cajon Business Partners advises businesses to close early due to upcoming release of video:
"No one has any idea of what may happen next. After conferring with the City of El Cajon I am recommending that all businesses in the District close early today, at 2:00 pm, and stay closed until Sunday."
UPDATE: 2:14 p.m., Sept. 30, 2016
Community members and news reporters have gathered outside the El Cajon Police Department awaiting the start of a news conference where officials are expected to release video of the shooting.
According to an advisory from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, "national media with current, valid credentials and local media with current media badges from the San Diego Police Department" are permitted inside.
The conference was scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
UPDATE: 12:45 p.m., Sept. 30, 2016
El Cajon police will release witness video of the fatal police shooting of Ugandan immigrant Alfred Olango Friday afternoon, according to law enforcement officials. Copies of the footage showing an officer opening fire on Olango at a strip mall near Parkway Plaza will be distributed during a 2 p.m. news conference at El Cajon police headquarters, authorities say.
East County religious leaders prayed for peace and unity in the city of El Cajon this morning following a spate of increasingly raucous protests over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Ugandan immigrant earlier this week.
Pastors from various churches attended the prayer meeting outside El Cajon Police Department headquarters, where some demonstrations had been held following the death of 38-year-old Alfred Olango on Tuesday, which critics maintain was unwarranted and racially motivated.
Rev. Rolland Slade of Meridian Baptist Church in El Cajon called for transparency, transformation and kindness in a nation that has "seen division and separation long enough."
"The events of Tuesday, Sept. 27 were tragic and they must be acknowledged," he said. "We, lord, the region, the community, the neighborhood, the family of Alfred Olango, have been dramatically changed."
Olango's death sparked widespread and nearly immediate protests.
A demonstration at the strip mall near the intersection of Interstate 8 and state Route 67 — where Olango was mortally wounded during a confrontation with officers — turned violent Thursday night. Protesters stopped vehicles, broke car windows and knocked a rider off his motorcycle, according to El Cajon police.
Officers from a multi-agency platoon arrested two men on suspicion of participating in an unlawful assembly and used pepper balls to disperse a crowd of 50 to 75 people, some of whom threw glass bottles at officers, authorities said.
Earlier Thursday, supporters of Olango decried the killing and vowed to fight for justice.
"We do believe that Alfred Olango was unjustly killed," the Rev. Shane Harris, president of the National Action Network-San Diego, said during a news conference at the civil rights organization's Midway-area offices. "We do believe that the officer who shot him five times did this with misconduct, and that is why we are here today."
A witness told reporters that Olango had his hands raised when shot, and another indicated he may have had a seizure.
Police officials countered that Olango was uncooperative, repeatedly refused to remove his hand from his pocket, assumed "what appeared to be a shooting stance" and pointed an object at an officer that turned out to be an electronic smoking device.
The events that led to the fatal confrontation began when officers were dispatched to investigate a report of a pedestrian behaving erratically and walking in traffic in a commercial district a few blocks north of El Cajon Valley High School.
Patrol personnel contacted Olango and moments later, one of the responding officers fired his service weapon while the other deployed an electronic stun gun. According to news reports, it took officers 50 minutes to respond to the initial call.
Olango's mother, Pamela Benge, said her son was distraught at the time of the shooting due to the death of a close friend, disputing reports that he was mentally ill.
"He was not mental — he had a mental breakdown," she said.
Benge tearfully praised Olango as a decent person who simply needed help at the time of the deadly confrontation with police.
"My son (was) a good, loving young man, only 38 years old," she said. "I wanted his future to be longer than that. I wanted him to enjoy his daughter."
The grieving mother noted that her family had come to the United States 25 years ago to escape armed conflict in their homeland.
"We have come from a war zone," she said. "We wanted protection. That's why we're here. ... There are millions of refugees that are here, just searching for a better place. ... I thought a lovely nice country like this would protect us. We just need protection, that's all."
During a news conference Wednesday, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said he was "completely fine" with peaceful dissent but was concerned about the potential for violence.
"I see what's happening all over the country," Wells said. "Of course I'm worried. ... I don't expect anything bad to happen, but I certainly don't want to be caught unaware."
Hours after the shooting, police made public a still photo lifted from witness video that showed a crouching man holding something at face level as two officers apparently trained weapons on him. Protesters decried the release of just one photo instead of the entire video.
Wells said he had seen the full footage and was deeply affected by it but was holding off on any judgments.
"I saw a man who was distraught, a man who was acting in ways that looked like he was in great pain," Wells said. "And I saw him get gunned down and killed, and it broke my heart."
The officers, each of whom has more than 20 years of law enforcement experience, were placed on administrative leave, as per protocol. Officials promised a thorough and transparent investigation, but protesters demanded an investigation at the federal level.
San Diego attorney Dan Gilleon, who has been advising Olango's family, identified the patrolman who fired the fatal shots as Richard Gonsalves, who was demoted last year for making unwanted sexual advances toward a female subordinate.
Olango was born in Kampala, Uganda, one of nine children. His mother and siblings immigrated to New York as refugees in 1991, apparently because his father — who worked for the late Ugandan President Idi Amin — made threats of violence against them.
The family eventually moved to Southern California, and Olango attended San Diego High School for a time before dropping out, though he later earned a GED. According to his Facebook page, he attended San Diego Mesa College and worked at a Hooters restaurant.