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DA Clears Law Enforcement In Five Shootings, Including El Cajon Officer Who Killed Olango

El Cajon police officers confront Alfred Olango in the parking lot of a taco ...

Photo by El Cajon Police Department

Above: El Cajon police officers confront Alfred Olango in the parking lot of a taco shop, Sept. 27, 2016.

DA Clears Law Enforcement In Five Shootings, Including El Cajon Officer Who Killed Olango

GUEST:

Megan Burks, reporter, KPBS

Transcript

The San Diego County District Attorney on Tuesday announced law enforcement agents were justified in five separate officer-involved shootings, including the September 2016 death of Alfred Olango that set off days of protests in El Cajon.

The San Diego County District Attorney announced Tuesday police officers were justified in five separate fatal shootings, including the September 2016 death of Alfred Olango that sparked protests in El Cajon.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Olango's death was tragic but El Cajon Officer Richard Gonsalves responded legally when he shot and killed the unarmed man after police say Olango pulled a cylindrical object from his pocket and assumed a "shooting stance." At the same time, another officer fired a Taser. The object turned out to be a vaping device.

Photo caption:

Photo by Kris Arciaga

A crowd of several hundred demonstrators protesting the death of Alfred Olango march peacefully down Main Street in El Cajon, Oct. 1, 2016.

Dumanis said the Olango family, who has filed claims against El Cajon, was notified about the news conference in advance but was not told of her office's decision.

"I don't take any sides," Dumanis said. "I take the side of justice and that often never pleases everyone."

Olango, a 38-year-old man from Uganda, was killed in the Sept. 27 encounter after his sister called 911 to report her brother was acting unstable.

At the news conference, Dumanis said video of the incident shows the firing officer ducked down when Olango raised his arms while removing the vaping device from his pockets, leading her to conclude the officer believed Olango was drawing a gun.

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis prepares to announce her office's ruling on five officer-involved shootings, Jan. 10, 2017.

The fourth-term district attorney also pointed to statements by eyewitnesses, both of whom believed Olango was pulling out a firearm, she said.

"The cop was in the right. He wouldn't take out his hand," one bystander said, according to Dumanis.

"The cop had every right; shoot or be killed," said another witness, Dumanis added.

An inewsource analysis published last January found the district attorney's office reviewed more than 150 officer-involved shootings over 11 years.

Dumanis said her office has brought criminal charges only once: against an off-duty San Diego cop who fired at a woman and her son in a 2008 road rage incident. The officer was found not guilty.

On Tuesday, Dumanis also cleared the officer who shot and killed Juan Fernandez after he shot four people, taking one of them hostage in City Heights last year. Additionally, the district attorney ruled the shootings of David Moya, Sergio Weick and Trenton Lohman were justified.

Photo caption:

Photo by Megan Burks

A pie chart breaks down the racial makeup of people who were shot by San Diego County law enforcement officers from 2013 to 2016, Jan. 10, 2016. According to the graphic, of those fired upon by police, 44 percent were white, 43 percent were Hispanic, 8 percent were black, 5 percent were Asian and 3 percent were non-white/other.

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