Hundreds Gather in 2nd Night of Protests After Police Shooting in California

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered for a second night at the scene of a fatal police shooting in El Cajon, California on Wednesday.

Protesters chanted slogans and engaged in rowdy and at times tense interactions with police and passersby, but remained mostly peaceful in the city of about 100,000 in San Diego County.

El Cajon has become the latest U.S. city to be roiled by a police shooting of a black man. Protests have erupted in recent weeks in Charlotte, North Carolina, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Sacramento, California, echoing the unrest seen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and St. Paul Minnesota earlier this year and in Ferguson, Missouri in 2015.

Alfred Okwera Olango, 38, was shot and killed in El Cajon on Tuesday.

Police initially said they received a 911 call from Olango's sister, saying her brother was "not acting like himself." According to the caller, he was walking in traffic, endangering himself and motorists, police said. Two officers located Olango behind a restaurant, where they attempted to approach him.

Olango refused multiple instructions to remove his hand from his pocket, which caused one officer to draw his firearm, police said. Olango continued to ignore further commands and paced back and forth while officers tried talking to him, according to police.

At one point, Olango "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," police said Tuesday. That's when one officer deployed his Taser and another fired his gun several times, striking Olango, according to police.

The object that a pulled from his pant pocket before being fatally shot by police was not a deadly weapon -- but a vape smoking device, the El Cajon olice Department said Wednesday evening.

"The vape has an all silver cylinder (Smok TFV4 MINI) that is approximately 1 inch diameter and 3 inches long that was pointed toward the officer," the police statement said. "The vape was collected as evidence from the scene."

Olango was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to police.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon that he had watched the video and "saw a man who was distraught" and in pain.

The mayor said Olango's sister indicated in the 911 call that he had a mental illness, adding that all officers in the El Cajon Police Department receive psychiatric training.

"There have been several questions about the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT)," police said in Wednesday's statement.

"The El Cajon Police Department does have an agreement with Community Research Foundation/PERT which allows certified licensed clinicians to partner with police officers in the field in order to provide direct support for mental health calls."

Tragically, the police statement said that an officer teamed with a PERT clinician was on another call at the time of Tuesday's shooting and was not available.

The aftermath of the shooting was recorded via Facebook Live. In the video, which lasts for more than 25 minutes, an unidentified woman who claims to be a witness is seen speaking with police about what she says she saw.

"When he took his hand out, he did have something in his hand, but it was no gun. And that's when they shot him," she told the officers.

The Facebook Live video also shows a distraught woman who says she is the victim's sister and is crying to officers at the scene.

"Oh, my God, you killed my brother!" the woman yells through tears. "I called you guys to come help, and you killed my brother. I told you, he's sick. Why didn't you Tase him? Why, why, why, why?"

Police said a witness voluntarily provided a video of the incident on a cellphone, the only phone provided to officers in the investigation. The video has not yet been released. Investigators are reviewing the cellphone video and other recordings recovered from the scene - which police say support their version of events.

The district attorney's office has the video of the shooting and will release it if they see fit, Wells said.

El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis has vowed that there will be a thorough investigation.

"This will be transparent," he said at a news conference late Tuesday night. "This will be looked at by multiple sets of eyes, and not just ours."

Olango's family has hired a local high profile attorney, Dan Gilleon, KGTV, a local ABC affiliate, reported.

Gilleon released a statement that reads, in part:

"With the family in shock from yesterday's shooting, the last thing they wanted to do was hire an attorney to defend a case being litigated against their son in the media. However, given ECPD's release of a single, cherry picked image from a video they refuse to release, we must respond."

Olango is a refugee from Uganda and one of nine children, KGTV reported. His family immigrated to the United States in 1991, leaving Uganda as refugees and claiming political persecution.

Since Tuesday, dozens of protesters have gathered at the scene of the shooting, chanting, "Black lives matter" and "Hands up, don't shoot!"

The incident is the latest in a string of police shootings of black men this month that have sparked protests. On Sept. 20, police in Charlotte, North Carolina, fatally shot 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, who investigators said was holding a handgun. On Sept. 16, police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shot and killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed. The officer who shot Crutcher has been charged in his death and will make her first court appearance on Friday.

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