Alfred Olango becomes the victim of the third high profile police shooting in the last couple of weeks, adding to the tension between police and communities regarding what is perceived as a disproportional number of shootings of black men by police.
Mr. Olango, originally from Uganda, is a father and a restaurant cook. Accounts with eyewitnesses and police differ sharply with witnesses claiming that Olango was pleading for police to not shoot him.
Where there is agreement is that the victim was unarmed though police claim that he had an object in his hand at the time of the shooting. Police have refused so far to identify the object. At one point it appears that Olango was pointing the object at police in what resembles a shooting stance.
This picture was taken by a witness, but released to the public by police. Mr. Olango is depicted standing by a white truck pointing the object in question — which was confirmed by police not to be a firearm, but otherwise unidentified — in what appears to be a shooting stance. Two officers are at the scene. According to police, one was holding a Taser and the other his pistol.
One witness claimed the man had no weapon while another witness said that he had been holding a vape electronic smoking device, though it was not clear whether the witness was claiming that the cigarette was the item that Olango was pointing at police.
Here are five important facts regarding the incident:
1. On Friday, Police released two videos of the incident — one from a security camera at the nearby fast food drive thru and the other from a cellphone of a private citizen. They also released pictures of the evidence in the case. Below is the clip of both videos and the evidence.
In a video that is posted by the man’s sister on Facebook, she claims that she had asked police to help Olango. She claims that indeed, she had called police to the scene to assist her brother who was not acting like himself. Police confirm this claim and also state that in her 911 call, she had told them that Olango was unarmed and mentally ill.
Olango’s sister claimed to NBC 7 San Diego that “I called you to help me but you killed my brother … Why couldn’t you guys tase him? Why why why why?”
2. Dozens of officers swarmed a public shopping center in the heart of El Cajon at 1 p.m. The community is approximately 30 miles east of downtown San Diego. A witness claimed that he recalled an officer firing off five rounds. A second witness said that police fired on the man when the man had his hands to his side.
A manager who was inside of a restaurant nearby said that the man refused to remove his arms from his side. Police claim that the witness video that they have in their possession show that the man did not have his hands in the air.
Officers responded to an erratic subject that ended with an officer involved shooting. We will post updates here as they are available.
— El Cajon Police (@elcajonpolice) September 27, 2016
3. Witnesses insisted that the man was unarmed and had his hands extended out when one officer fired. Police have not released any other portion of the witness video that was allegedly shot depicting the entire incident. One witness demonstrates the manner in which the man was standing in the video posted below.
— Barb (@my2cnz) September 27, 2016
One witness told an NBC 15 reporter:
“He was like this, don’t shoot, don’t shoot and they still shot him,” said one witness as he stood with his arms extended. “I see a man, I see a black man surrounded by officers with their guns out … black man with his hands up … he’s jerking, he’s confused, he runs this way … As soon as he runs this way, they discharge boo, boom, boom … five shots.”
4. Accounts of other witnesses can be viewed below. The accounts spread on social media like a wildfire which added to and fueled the unease that people were feeling with the incident. Some witness accounts confirm the original 911 call claiming that the man may have had mental health issues.
Michael Rodriguez says he saw man with hands up shot my El Cajon PD officers. He heard five shots fired. pic.twitter.com/zC68rXpAxc
— David Hernandez (@D4VIDHernandez) September 28, 2016
5. Police issued a news release stating that Olango “was walking in traffic, not only endangering himself, but motorists. Two officers located him behind a local restaurant in the 800 block of Broadway. The subject was described as an adult African American male in his 30’s, wearing a black tank top and blue jeans.”
Olango was originally from Gulu, Uganda according to his Facebook page. He was “Head Cook at West Coast Hooters, Head Cook at Hooters” and was formerly “Head Cook at Saddle Ranch — Westgate.” He apparently studied at San Diego College and went to San Diego High School. He lived in San Diego.
Residents are clearly angry and want answers.