Following days of protests calling for justice over police killing of black man, El Cajon authorities release footage.
After days of protests, US authorities released on Friday two videos showing police fatally shooting an unarmed black man in California, but the low-quality footage, much of it without sound, was not likely to pacify outrage over the killing of yet another African American at the hands of officers.
The grainy cellphone and surveillance videos show two officers in a San Diego suburb confronting Alfred Olango, 38, in the parking lot of a restaurant before opening fire, one with a gun and the other with a Taser.
In the cellphone video, which lasts only about 17 seconds, a woman can be heard shouting: "Officer don’t shoot him!" before at least four shots ring out and she screams.
The shots came less than a minute after police arrived at the scene in response to Olango’s sister calling the department and reporting he was acting erratically.
The videos were released after three nights of protests in El Cajon, and on the eve of a demonstration organised by clergy and supporters of Olango’s family, who had pressured authorities to show the footage of the fatal encounter.
The Reverend Shane Harris, of the civil rights organisation National Action Network, said the low-quality videos, shot at a distance, did not clarify what led to the shooting and said they were likely to make people angrier.
"What we saw today, that isn’t enough," said Harris, who is assisting Olango’s family.
In addition to the videos, police showed the four-inch electronic cigarette device Olango had in his hands when he was shot.
Officer ’provoked’ Olango
Dan Gilleon, a lawyer for the family, said the victim’s relatives welcomed the release of the videos, but he questioned the tactics used by one of the officers. Olango had been reported to be mentally disturbed and unarmed and yet Officer Richard Gonsalves approached with his weapon out, according to Gilleon.
"It shows a cowboy with his gun drawn provoking a mentally disturbed person," Gilleon said.
The incident is the latest in a series of fatal police shootings of black men that have roiled communities across the US.
It came weeks after fatal shootings by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Olango was a Ugandan refugee who arrived in the US as a child. His family described him as a loving father and a joyful, happy person.
His mother said he suffered a mental breakdown recently after the death of his best friend. On Tuesday, his sister called the police and reported he was acting strangely and walking into traffic by a strip mall.
The longer of the two videos released by police came from a surveillance camera in the drive-thru of a restaurant. It is roughly a minute, has no sound and police blurred out the heads of everyone in it.
In the second video, taken on a cellphone by a witness in the drive-thru, Olango’s sister is seen approaching Gonsalves from behind and a woman can be heard screaming at Olango to put up his hands and telling police not to shoot.
Olango then bent over and Gonsalves quickly fired four shots at close-range. A woman shrieked loudly as Olango fell forward.
That night, as a crowd protested outside police headquarters, police released a single image from the video showing Olango with his hands clasped in front.
Olango’s family and demonstrators demanded to see the full video, saying the single frame was selectively misleading to support the police version of events. They also questioned why it took them more than an hour to respond to three calls for help and then less than a minute to use deadly force.
El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis, who said the investigation was ongoing, did not address whether officers acted appropriately in how they responded to the incident.
Andre Branch, president of NAACP San Diego, commended the city for releasing video. "Full disclosure to the public builds trust, and it demonstrates respect," Branch said.
- Protesters have called for justice over the police killing of Alfred Olango