Man Fatally Shot By El Cajon Police Was Holding A Vape Pen
Alfred Olango, the unarmed black man fatally shot by police in El Cajon Tuesday afternoon, was holding a vape pen, according to a statement issued by the El Cajon Police Department Wednesday evening. Olango was a Ugandan refugee who emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12 in 1991, according to NBC San Diego. His death has sparked protests in the San Diego suburb.
Two police officers had responded to 9-1-1 calls about a man walking in traffic and acting erratically around 2 p.m. on Tuesday. According to NPR, one of the calls was made by Olango's sister, who said that she told police her brother was mentally ill and unarmed. NBC San Diego reports that police arrived about an hour after Olango's sister had made the call, and that the shooting happened within two minutes of their arrival.
In a YouTube video shot in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Olango's sister is seen screaming and weeping as she tells police that her brother was mentally ill, and that she had called for police to help him. "I called for help. I didn't call you guys to kill him," she is heard telling the officers.
El Cajon Police Lt. Rob Ransweiler told CNN that Olango failed to comply with the directives given by officers after they arrived and confronted him, and that Olango kept his hands in his pockets while pacing back and forth. According to a statement from the department, one of the two responding officers drew their weapon and pointed it at the man because of his non-compliance, "while continuing to give him instructions to remove his hand from his pocket."
As the other responding officer prepared to deploy a Taser as a less lethal option, Olango rapidly withdrew something from his pocket and pointed it at the officers, taking up "what appeared to be a shooting stance," according to the department's statement. The officers responded by opening fire on Olango, with one officer deploying his Taser while the other fired rounds from his handgun, according to the L.A. Times. Olango died as a result of his injuries at an area hospital that day.
The object that Olango withdrew from his pocket was not a gun but a vape pen. The department identified it as a "Pioneer for You Vape," and reports that it was collected as evidence at the scene.
A witness captured a video of the incident, which they voluntarily turned over to the police department. The video has not yet been made public, but the department has said that it corroborates their version of events. According to NPR, the El Cajon Police Department, the FBI and the district attorney are investigating the shooting, and the two officers have been placed on administrative leave.
On Wednesday, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells identified one of the officers involved in the shooting as Richard Gonsalves, a 21-year veteran of the department who, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, was demoted last year following a sexual harassment suit.