Alfred Olango's Brother Advocates For Police Reform With San Diego Foundation
One year after the El Cajon police shooting death of Alfred Olango, Apollo K. Olango, Alfred's younger brother, said he helps keep his brother’s memory alive through a foundation that bears Alfred's name.
El Cajon police said on September 27, 2016, officer Richard Gonsalves thought the 38-year-old Ugandan refugee was carrying a weapon. Later, authorities determined the item was an e-cigarette device. In January, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis found Gonsalves responded legally when he shot and killed Alfred Olango.
Olango founded The Alfred Olango Foundation last Spring. He said the foundation advocates for training and policies to help de-escalate police encounters and save lives.
“I really do believe that he shouldn’t be dead, and he could still be alive. Things could have happened differently,” Olango said. He said that belief guides him and moved him to developing a foundation in his brother’s memory.
Olango said his brother Alfred led the way when they grew up together.
“Alfred is older; he’s always been a guide starting back to the refugee camp and even before that,” Olango said.
The Olangos moved to San Diego as refugees in 1991. Apollo said his brother Alfred had a way of making everyone laugh. He said that makes losing him to violence all the more painful.
“It was difficult. As a family, we had never really dealt with a loss like that — miraculously out of everything we had been through, bombs exploding, land mines all over the place," Olango said.
The goals of the Alfred Olango Foundation include advocating for police training focused “on de-escalation techniques and preservation of life.”
"Someone that is dealing with a mental breakdown is not going to be able to respond to whatever orders you’re barking out, and with that understanding, there should be some kind of technique applied to de-escalates the particular situation,” Olango said.
Olango said leading up to Alfred’s death, his brother was emotionally in pieces over the death of his longtime friend.
In the last year, Olango has shared Alfred’s story and the goals of the foundation with community groups, politicians and Hollywood personalities who have platforms to raise awareness.
“It’s not easy,” Olango said. “I’m still grieving. It’s difficult to go to sleep at night knowing that your brother died in the pain he died in and knowing he didn’t have to.”
The Olango Foundation supported California Assembly Bill 284.
The bill would have enabled local police and district attorneys to ask the state attorney general’s office to investigate police shootings. It did not make it out of committee this summer.
Olango also wants to develop a research Initiative to study current laws and policies regarding law enforcement to advocate for reform.
“It’s the laws that justify the actions, so to have an in-depth understanding of the laws that justify these actions as to why,” he said. “If enough people feel about a law that it is unjust or something is incorrect and every document is a living document really. And it can be amended.”
Olango said his brother always encouraged him. He said he thinks Alfred would be proud of The Alfred Olango Foundation and its efforts to turn his memory into a catalyst to help others.
“I hope Alfred Olango is remembered as someone who sadly lost his life in a situation he was not suppose to, but in doing so, he was able to give something to the people,” Olango said.