A black man was were shot dead by police in southern California Tuesday afternoon, sparking angry scenes as the locals rallied amid reports that the victim – the unofficial name as Alfred Olango – had mental health problems.
Some reports say that Mr. Olango – 217 the black person killed by police this year – was epileptic, but police said there was no evidence that the man was suffering an epileptic seizure.
Police said they were called to a parking lot in the Village Shopping Center Broadway in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, at 1 pm after receiving calls from a man who was’ not to act like him, “a statement police reads.
The 30-year-old died after being shot by a police officer Police Department El Cajon.
El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis said the shooting victim was walking in traffic ‘not only endangering himself, but motorists.’
He said the man refused multiple instructions by the first officer on the scene to remove his hand from his pocket.
Maria Medina, an employee at the nearby Los Panchos restaurant in El Cajon, said one of her co-workers had recorded video of the shooting and had her phone taken by police but El Cajon police denied any phones were ‘confiscated’.
Police said when the man did not follow their demands, one officer drew his firearm and pointed it the man, who was wearing a black tank top and blue jeans.
A second officer who responded to the scene drew a Taser, aiming it at the man, while the first officer still had his firearm out and pointed.
‘At one point, the subject 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,’ the statement reads.
‘At this time, the officer with the electronic control device discharged his weapon.
‘Simultaneously, the officer with the firearm discharged his weapon several times, striking the subject.’
Police provided first aid for the man at the scene until medics arrived and took him to the hospital but he died as a result of his injuries.
It is unclear how many times he was shot or what part of his body was struck.
Davis said the second officer fired his Taser at the man the same time the other officer fired from his gun.
A photo released by police shows the moment right before the man was shot dead by an officer, as another officer aims a Taser at the shooting victim.
The entire shooting was captured on a cell phone, but the video will not be released as it is part of an ongoing investigation, said Davis.
A video shared to Facebook by Rumbie Mubaiwa shows a woman named Sarah, who said she was the dead man’s sister, crying hysterically in the parking lot after witnessing her brother being shot.
Sarah, who said she called police three different times, can be heard in the video, saying: ‘I called you to help me but you killed my brother.
‘Why couldn’t you guys tase him? Why why why why?’
Police officers can be seen approaching the woman in the video to question her.
‘I called so many times to help him,’ she said before telling a female police officer that her brother’s name is Alfred Olango.
The video posted to Facebook by Mubaiwa did not capture the actual shooting.
Meanwhile tennis star Serena Williams has said she ‘won’t be silent’ about the killing of black men by police officers.
Williams posted on Facebook on Tuesday she was worried for members of her family and she quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying ‘there comes a time when silence is betrayal’, adding ‘I Won’t Be Silent.’
Not long after the shooting Lieutenant Rob Ransweiler said: ‘I hope the community of El Cajon allows for the details of the investigation to be released.
‘I’m confident that the community will support the decision made by the officer.’
Authorities say the District Attorney’s office along with the homicide division of the El Cajon police department will be investigating the shooting, CBS 8 reported.
The El Cajon Police Department has placed the two officers involved on administrative leave. They both have 21 years of service as police officers.
Witnesses at the scene of the shooting questioned the motives of the officers in the shooting, as people gathered and started demanding to get answers from the El Cajon police.
A woman who claims to have witnessed the shooting said the man was unarmed and was mentally challenged.
Author and film-maker Diane Sherlock tweeted: ‘Police scanner is very clear it was called in as a 5150 (mental health) #AlfredOlango.’
Another witness, identified only as George, claims the police fired the shots at the man without any words being said.
‘I didn’t hear any command or yelling. I didn’t hear the man say anything. Next thing I see ‘Pow, pow, pow, pow, pow’ – five shots,’ he added.
Maria Medina, an employee at the Los Panchos restaurant in El Cajon, which is located about 15 miles east of San Diego, said she was working when she heard the shooting.
She said officers came into the restaurant and confiscated everyone’s cell phone after the shooting.
Ms Medina said one of her co-workers had recorded video of the shooting on her phone, which was confiscated by police.
But El Cajon police denied any phones were ‘confiscated’.
The police statement reads: ‘While detectives where on scene investigating the officer involved shooting, a witness came forward and notified officers they had video footage of the incident.
‘That witness voluntarily provided their phone to the police department and gave written consent for the officers to view the video.’
Police said that phone was the ‘only phone provided to officers in this investigation’ and they were reviewing the video and other videos recovered from the scene.
Officials said ‘all video recovered so far in this investigation clearly shows the incident’ as described by El Cajon police.
Some witnesses claimed the man had his hands up in the air at the time of the shooting, but El Cajon police tweeted: ‘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.’
Dozens of people who gathered at the strip mall where the shooting happened chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Hands up, don’t shoot.’
In May, El Cajon City Council members approved the purchase of 88 body cameras.
Police Chief Davis said he was hoping to have the cameras in use by the start of 2017.
Before it was announced the man had died, San Diego City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole tweeted: ‘My heart goes out to the family & loved ones of the victim at the El Cajon shooting today. I pray that he survives.’
The hashtag ‘#AlfredOlango’ began circulating on Twitter last night as many users wrote messages of condolences and frustration over another black man being shot by police.
The shooting in El Cajon comes just three days after the video showing the September 20 police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina was released.
A police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma shot and killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher six days after Scott’s shooting.
In the Tulsa shooting, officer Betty Shelby has been charged with manslaughter and if convicted, she faces up to life in prison.
Crutcher’s and Scott’s deaths have sparked protests across the country, as people question the law enforcement officers’ actions.
The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties released a statement on the El Cajon shooting.
‘The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties was concerned to learn of the shooting of a Black man by police officers in El Cajon earlier this afternoon,’ the statement reads.
‘It is too early to know many of the details of the actual shooting and what preceded it, and we hope that the El Cajon Police Department and the San Diego District Attorney provide the public with answers as quickly as possible, with transparency and accountability for all involved.
‘Unfortunately, there are disturbing reports from a number of witnesses that police officers confiscated cell phones from people who witnessed the shooting.
Confiscating cell phones is a violation of the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable seizure without warrant or exigent circumstance) and the First Amendment (interference with the right to record in public) under the U. S. Constitution and analogous rights under the California Constitution.
‘It is hard to see any kind of Fourth Amendment exigent circumstances at issue here.
The First Amendment issues are also significant, because by seizing phones, police would likely be preventing the dissemination of video captured by bystanders.’
The statement ended with the ACLU saying they would pay ‘close attention’ to the details of the situation.