Protests Erupt After Cops Execute Innocent Disabled Man for “Acting Erratic”
SAN DIEGO (CN) — Police in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon shot to death an unarmed black man who was behaving “erratically” on Tuesday afternoon, the police department said, and by Tuesday night about 200 people had gathered in protest.
The man, tentatively identified as Alfred Olango, 30, was shot near the Broadway Village Shopping Center.
El Cajon is a city of about 103,000 some 15 miles east of San Diego.
El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis said at a 9 p.m. news conference that officers were sent to a parking lot at Broadway and North Mollison, in response to reports of a man “erratically” running in and out of traffic, endangering himself and motorists.
Davis said the man “failed to comply with the directives that he was given” by police officers. He said the man kept his hands in his pockets while pacing, and as an officer prepared a Taser, the man “rapidly drew an object” from a pocket, held it in both hands, “like you would be holding a firearm,” and “appeared to take a shooting stance.”
One officer fired a Taser and another fired his gun.
NBC and the Los Angeles Times reported that a witness said the officer fired five shots.
First responders found no gun on the man, Davis said.
He did not say what the “object” was.
Police had not released the man’s name early Wednesday, as they sought to notify his family. News wires reported that he appeared to be in his 30s.
Davis declined to reveal how many shots were fired.
Twitter users said a woman identified him as her brother, Alfred Olango, as did the New York Daily News and Al-Jazeera USA.
Several news outlets, including the L.A. Times and CNN, reported that witnesses supported the police version of the shooting: that the man kept his hands in his pockets, then appeared to point something at an officer, and did not raise his hands in the air.
“El Cajon” was a trending topic on Twitter at 10 p.m. Tuesday, with 20,000 people talking about the shooting.
Some protesters complained that police had shot a man who was suffering from a seizure or mental health emergency. A cellphone video that gained traction on social media showed a woman crying and yelling at officers for shooting her brother after she had called 911 to get him help.
The police chief rejected calls from the press and community to release the cellphone video, citing a new countywide policy to withhold footage of police shootings that may be used as evidence.
Davis did release a still frame from the video, which appears to show an African-American man pointing his hands at an officer.
Davis denied reports that police had confiscated cellphones of witnesses and employees of nearby businesses. He said one witness came forward with a video and voluntarily handed her cellphone to police.
Community groups have called for a rally Wednesday morning at the police station.
Both officers involved have more than 20 years experience, Davis said. They have been placed on three-day administrative leave.
Davis called for calm at the nighttime news conference.
“Now is the time for the community to work with us,” he said.
El Cajon is 55 percent white, 29 percent Latino and 5.6 percent black, according to city-data.com. Its estimated median household income in 2013 was $39,965 — two-thirds the statewide median of $60,190.
Published by Courthouse News Service