Shortly after her mentally ill brother was killed by police, a San Diego resident was recorded on a cellphone video asking officers why they killed her unarmed brother. Although the police chief recently released a photo of her brother moments before the fatal shooting, he refuses to publicly disclose the other bystander’s cellphone footage of the incident.
At 2:11 p.m. on Tuesday, El Cajon police responded to a call concerning a mentally ill man walking in traffic. Locating the man behind a fast food restaurant, officers claim that Alfred Olango repeatedly ignored commands while concealing a hand in his pants pocket. According to El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis, the officers talked to Olango as he paced back and forth before he suddenly drew an object out of his pocket and took a shooting stance.
Fearing for his life, the officer standing directly in front of Olango fired several rounds as a nearby cop fired his Taser. Witnesses reported hearing five shots, but Chief Davis would not disclose the number of bullets fired.
Although officers discovered that Olango had been unarmed, Davis also would not reveal what the mentally ill man had been holding in his hands moments before the fatal shooting. Footage from 10News appeared to show a vaporizer pen and a battery at the crime scene.
Despite the fact that a witness captured the shooting on a cellphone and gave the video to El Cajon police, Chief Davis only presented one screenshot depicting Olango with his hands extended forward and aimed at a nearby officer. Ignoring calls from the community for total transparency, Davis refuses to release the cellphone video to the public.
A few minutes after the shooting, another bystander approached the crime scene and recorded a video of Olango’s sister asking the cops why they killed her mentally ill brother.
“Why couldn’t you tase him? I told you he is sick – and you guys shot him!” Olango’s sister can be heard telling officers in the video. “I called police to help him, not to kill him.”
According to the uploaded video, Olango’s sister called the police three times asking for assistance because her brother was acting erratically and wandering into traffic on foot. In the video, she asked an officer, “Don’t you guys have a crisis communication team to talk to somebody mentally sick?”
Due to the willful ignorance of Congress, police officers find themselves confronting mentally ill people on a routine basis despite a deplorable lack of training to both recognize and calm them down without escalating a potentially violent situation. Often dependent on family members or forced to live in the streets, people suffering from mental illness have been ignored for far too long in the U.S. while jails continue to serve as substitutes for mental health facilities.
President of the National Action Network in San Diego, Rev. Shane Harris recently met with Olango’s family who are calling for a federal investigation into the shooting. In a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times, Rev. Harris declared, “We do not trust local prosecutors to investigate local police.”
Even though the San Diego County district attorney’s office and the El Cajon Police Department are investigating the incident, the current evidence does not suggest any forthcoming criminal charges against the officers involved in the shooting. Outraged that another unarmed mentally ill man has been killed by police, the community continues to protest while demanding that the police chief cease suppressing the confiscated video of the shooting.