Police in California’s San Diego County’s El Cajon community released startling information on Wednesday regarding the death of 38-year-old Alfred Olango, who was shot and killed by an officer responding to a call about a man acting erratically and disrupting traffic.
At a news conference, El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis said Olango was pointing a vaping device at police when he was shot and killed near a strip mall, according to NBC News. A second officer simultaneously deployed a stun gun as the first officer fired, the outlet reports.
According to police, Olango was allegedly holding a three-inch long cylinder shaped vapor attached to a box containing liquid.
On Tuesday, the El Cajon Police Department released a photo of Olango in a shooting stance to corroborate an initial report that Olango pointed what was believed to be a weapon before he was fatally wounded.
The death of another unarmed Black man in the U.S. prompted protests. Demonstrators against police violence in communities of color took to the streets on Wednesday, blocking the exit to a major highway. They filed through the streets chanting “Black Lives Matter!,” as officers looked on.
Olango’s family says he was in mental distress when authorities arrived at the scene on Tuesday afternoon. Initial reports allege Olango paced back and forth in the street, obstructing traffic.
“I did not call the police officers to come and kill my brother,” a woman who identified as Olango’s sister said near the scene, writes NBC. A lawyer for the family says they are devastated.
NBC News released a report Wednesday conducted by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability organization, showing almost half of people killed by police suffer some form of mental disability. The study says officers are usually called to handle these cases when a trained urgent care response team would be more appropriate.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said the FBI will investigate the shooting along with the local police and the San Diego District Attorney’s office during a Wednesday presser. He said the witness video collected at the scene will offer more transparency.
“I saw a man who was distraught, a man who was acting in ways that looked like he was in great pain, and I saw him get gunned down and killed — and it broke my heart,” he said. “If it was my son, I would be devastated.”
Police say they plan to release the witness video once the investigation is completed. According to NBC, responding officers were not wearing body cameras during the incident. The City Council authorized body cameras recently, but at the time of the shooting, they had not yet arrived.
Wells revealed one of the responding officers as Richard Gonsalves, a 21-year veteran. The second officer’s name was withheld, but he also has the same length of experience, CNN reports.
Gonsalves is the subject of two sexual harassment suits filed by Tina Greer, a fellow female officer in the El Cajon Police Department, KGTV reports. Greer settled the first suit last November which claimed Gonsalves sent explicit texts to her cell phone soliciting sex from Greer and her wife, and an image of his penis, the report says.
In a second suit, reports the television news outlet, Greer said she faced harassment and emotional distress from colleagues on the force after exposing Gonsalves’ behavior. Greer claims she was then forced to work with Gonsalves, who she believes should have been fired after the initial suit. Gonsalves was demoted from sergeant to officer, the outlet reports.
“The officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave for at least three days, as per protocol,” reports San Diego Fox 5.
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