US police release video of fatal shooting of black man
Los Angeles, United States | AFP |
Following days of protests, police in San Diego on Friday released video footage of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, saying the decision was made to counter “misinformation” being circulated about the incident.
The grainy cellphone and surveillance videos show the victim, Alfred Olango, 38, a Ugandan immigrant, pacing back and forth as he is confronted by two police officers in the parking lot of a strip mall.
He is then seen being tasered and shot as he points an object at one of the officers.
The cylindrical object turned out to be a vape inhaler.
According to local media reports, it took police 50 minutes to dispatch officers to the scene.
Olango’s mother, Pamela Benge, said Thursday that her son had had a breakdown after losing a friend but was not mentally ill.
“My son was a good, loving young man,” she said tearfully. “I wanted his future to be longer than that. I wanted him to enjoy his daughter.”
She said the family had arrived as refugees in the United States 25 years ago, fleeing unrest in Uganda.
‘Came from war zone’
“We came from a war zone,” she said. “I thought a lovely nice country like this would protect us. We just need protection, that’s all.”
The family initially immigrated to New York as refugees in 1991 but then eventually moved to southern California.
Olango attended school in San Diego before dropping out, according to media reports, and worked as a cook at a Hooters restaurant.
Several local African-American community leaders welcomed the release of the video on Friday and urging the community to remain calm.
“It is okay to protest, but we want folks to protest in peace,” said the Reverend Gerald Brown, executive director of the United African-American Ministerial Action Council.
“We want to make sure that everyone’s safe, everyone gets home,” he added, standing alongside the police chief at the news conference.
“We want to make sure that the (police) officers are safe, as well.”
According to a document obtained by AFP, US immigration authorities twice unsuccessfully tried to deport Olango, once for transporting and selling drugs and later for a firearms conviction.
In both instances, Ugandan authorities refused to issue travel documents allowing Olango to return to his homeland, US authorities said.
He was released from custody both times, as US law dictates that immigrants cannot be held indefinitely if their country of origin refuses to allow them back.
Police struggle with street protests
The deadly confrontation in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, has prompted daily street demonstrations that turned violent late Thursday after protesters blocked some streets, hurling bottles and rocks at passing vehicles and police and smashing car windows.
One person was also pulled off his motorcycle.
Davis said police used tear gas to disperse the crowd and five people were arrested.
“Our goal today is to clarify and hopefully calm the community’s concerns regarding the recent officer-involved shooting,” police chief Jeff Davis told reporters on Friday as he released the video footage.
“Our only concern at this point was community safety,” he added. “We felt that the aggression of some of the protesters was escalating to the point where it was necessary to release some information.”
Davis said several stores had shut down on Friday and schools had let out students early, fearing more violence.
The shooting took place as the United States is reeling from a string of police shootings of black men, including one earlier this month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and another in Charlotte, North Carolina, that also ignited protests and heightened racial tensions.
Local officials in El Cajon have vowed a thorough and transparent investigation and initially refused to release the video of the incident pending the outcome of a probe.
Davis said the two officers involved in the incident — both 21-year veterans — had been placed on administrative leave.
He said Olango’s family had declined to watch the video earlier in the day and the decision to release it was to dispel any “misconceptions” about what happened.
The police confrontation with Olango took place after his sister called police three times saying he was acting erratically and walking into traffic.