LA Times | ‘You killed my brother!’ | Unarmed Ugandan man killed by El Cajon police was ‘mentally sick,’ sister says
LA Times — Just moments after an African American man was shot and killed by El Cajon police Tuesday, his sister was captured in an eyewitness video as she wept and screamed at officers, saying she told authorities her brother was mentally ill.
In the video posted on YouTube (some explicit language), the man’s sister said she told officers he was sick and needed help. She said she called police three times but instead should have called a “crisis communication team.”
“Don’t you guys have a crisis communication team to talk to somebody mentally sick?” she asked an officer.
“Why couldn’t you tase him? she asked officers. “Why, why, why, why?”
At one point, the woman yelled, “Oh, my God, you killed my brother!” several times.
“I called for help. I didn’t call you guys to kill him,” she told officers as she shrieked.
El Cajon police chief vows transparency amid outrage over fatal police shooting of black man.
Amid outrage and protests over the death of the man — identified by relatives and protesters as Alfred Olango, 30 — El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis on Tuesday urged the public to let the investigation unfold before making any judgments about the shooting.
“Now is the time for calm,” he said. “Now is the time to allow the investigation to shed light on this event and we plan to be open and transparent within the rules of the law.”
Police have yet to officially name the dead man, but Davis said his sister called police and indicated that her brother was “not acting like himself.” The man had allegedly been walking in traffic in the 800 block of Broadway before a pair of officers arrived at 2:11 p.m. Tuesday and found him behind a restaurant, he said.
He ignored multiple instructions from an officer and “concealed his hand in his pants pockets,” Davis said. The man paced back and forth as the officers talked to him, then “rapidly drew an object from his front pants pockets, placed both hands together on it and extended it rapidly toward [one] officer, taking what appeared to be a shooting stance,” the chief said.
The man, he said, pointed the object at the officer’s face.
At that point, the other officer fired a Taser and the officer who had the object pointed at him fired his handgun, striking the man. Davis declined to say the number of shots that were fired. No firearm was found at the scene.
Davis said the object the man was holding had been recovered, but he declined to provide details because it was part of the investigation. Television news footage of the crime scene showed what appeared to be a vaporizer pen and battery lying in the parking lot beside an evidence marker.
After the shooting, officers provided first aid until paramedics arrived and took the man to a hospital.
A witness to the incident made a cellphone video, which was voluntarily turned over to police. The department has so far declined to release the video to the public.
A Facebook page for Alfred Olango identifies him as a head cook at a Hooters restaurant and that he is originally from Uganda. It says he went to San Diego High School and studied at San Diego Mesa College.
Hours after the shooting, protests erupted in the San Diego County city, with friends of the man’s family saying he suffers from a mental illness and did not pose a threat to the officers.
Most of the demonstrators voiced concerns that the shooting was racially motivated. More demonstrations were planned Wednesday, including a rally organized by several activist groups and churches at the city’s civic center to call for change and an end to violence.
At news conference Wednesday morning, community activists called on police to release any videos of the shooting.
The Rev. Shane Harris, president of the National Action Network in San Diego, said his organization met with family members who have called for a federal investigation into the shooting.
“We do not trust local prosecutors to investigate local police,” he said.
Bishop Cornelius Bowser, a gang interventionist at Pastor of Charity Apostolic Church, said residents are looking for procedural justice because relations between the black community and police “has been ruined already.”
“We don’t want to see a still picture,” he said. “We want to see the whole story.”
The community, he said, wants transparency.
Activists claimed that the city has a history of racism and targeting young men.
Residents are afraid, said Christopher Rice-Wilson, associate director at Alliance San Diego.
The El Cajon shooting comes amid growing national anguish over police shootings of blacks. Charlotte, N.C., was rocked by days of protests last week after police fatally shot 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott.
The San Diego County district attorney’s office and the El Cajon Police Department are investigating the shooting.
All videos taken of the incident “so far coincide with the officers’ statements,” Davis said.
Police later released a still image from a video showing Olango in a shooting stance as he is confronted by officers.
“It’s important that the facts come out right now,” Davis said. “We are investigating facts as we know them and implore the community to be patient with us, work with us, look at the facts at hand before making an judgment.”
Pastor Miles McPherson, who joined the chief Tuesday at a news conference, urged peace because “we all want the right thing to happen, ” he said. He said the truth must come out, but in “a peaceful way.”
“This is very painful to me. It’s very personal,” said McPherson, who leads the Rock Church in San Diego. “I am black man and feel the pain on both sides every time this happens in our country.”
At the press conference Wednesday morning, Agnes Hassan, a relative, said she and Olango were in a refugee camp together before they came to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves and their children.
“We suffered too much with the war in Africa… we come here to suffer again,” she said.
Hassan said she was heartbroken.
“What happened yesterday, it wasn’t right,” she said.
On Twitter, the department disputed some of the claims made by protesters: “The investigation just started, but based on the video voluntarily provided by a witness, the subject did NOT have his hands up in the air.”
Michael Ray Rodriguez said he was driving away from the apartment building when he said he saw a shirtless black man with his hands in the air. In a matter of seconds, he said, an officer opened fire.
The officer “shot him again and again,” Rodriguez said, adding he heard five shots.
El Cajon police officers are not equipped with body-worn cameras. The department recently completed a pilot program to test the cameras and ordered some. The equipment has not been delivered, Ransweiler said.
Both officers involved in the shooting have been working in law enforcement for more than 21 years, the police chief said.
As officials continued to investigate the incident Wednesday, at least one use-of-force expert said that that Olango’s use of a shooting stance complicated matters.
Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County, Calif., sheriff’s deputy and legal advisor, said that mental health training for officers may have been of limited value in the situation.
“When those hands come up in a shooting stance, the officer wouldn’t have time to assess whether what is in the hands is a gun,” Obayashi said. “Almost immediately, the officer sees the hands flash up into a shooting stance he must react. A second will be too late if it’s a firearm.”
Source — Los Angeles Times