Breaking News
More () »

Unity rallies held across San Diego for Alfred Olango

Community and civil rights leaders plan to march and rally in protest of the controversial shooting of an unarmed black man in El Cajon Saturday.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/AP) - Hundreds of demonstrators rallied and marched through El Cajon and downtown San Diego Saturday in protest of the fatal police shooting of Ugandan immigrant Alfred Olango during a confrontation at a strip mall near Parkway Plaza Tuesday, September 27. During one of the rallies, Olango’s father called for "the chief of police of El Cajon to step down."
Supporters of Olango held signs that read "I'm Alfred Olango,'' "Not one more,'' "Black live matter,'' and other slogans as they gathered in Prescott Promenade Park on Main Street to hear from several speakers, including Bishop George McKinney of St. Stephen's Cathedral Church of God in Christ in San Diego.
"Today we are saddened, we're troubled, because of what continues to be a trend seemingly in America, and it is time for immediate and urgent action on behalf of these who suffer in our cities,'' McKinney said. "We are here to advocate that justice will be done. We're hear to advocate that it's time now for some radical and profound changes to take place.

RELATED Protests continue in El Cajon after deadly officer-involved shooting

"Isn't it a tragedy that those who are suppose to preserve and protect, are now being feared by young black boys and girls because of this tendency, this tragedy of killing, assassinating, destroying the life of those who are unarmed, because of some preconceived philosophy and notion that maybe black lives don't matter?'' he said.
After the rally, the crowd marched to Centennial Plaza in front of El Cajon Police headquarters a few blocks away. As the protestors marched, some locked arm-in-arm, they chanted "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.''

Olango's father also called out the officer during the.

“Where are you hiding? You are a coward.”

He also pushed for reforms within the department.

“They need to be retrained. They need to know police protocol. I would also demand the chief of police of El Cajon to step down.”

Once at the Centennial Plaza, the crowd heard more speeches and a plea for financial help for funeral expenses for Olango. Some businesses in the vicinity of the rally and march closed for the day, while others remained open.

The event came a day after two videos of the shooting were released by authorities, something the family and community leaders had urged.

The videos show the officer fired four times at close range almost immediately after Olango, 38, suddenly raised both hands to chest level and took what was described as a shooting stance. In addition to the videos, police showed the 4-inch electronic cigarette device Olango had in his hands when he was shot.

The shots came less than a minute after police arrived at the scene in response to Olango's sister calling 911 and reporting he was acting erratically.

VIDEO: Witness cell phone video showing fatal shooting of Alfred Olango (WARNING: Graphic Video)

The videos were released after nights of unruly and, at times, violent protests in El Cajon. On Thursday night, an officer was struck in the head by a brick hurled by a protester.

"Our only concern at this point was community safety," police Chief Jeff Davis said. "We felt that the aggression of some — some — of the protesters was escalating to the point where it was necessary to release some information and truly, it was my hope to relieve some of that concern."

A fourth night of protests on Friday remained peaceful, with about 200 people blocking intersections and at one point attempting to walk on to a freeway before police stopped them.

A lawyer for the family said they welcomed the release of the videos, but he questioned the tactics used by Officer Richard Gonsalves. Olango had been reported to be mentally disturbed and unarmed and yet Gonsalves approached with his weapon out, Dan Gilleon said.

"It shows a cowboy with his gun drawn provoking a mentally disturbed person," Gilleon said.

RELATED: Protesters demand answers after deadly El Cajon police shooting

The incident is the latest in a series of fatal shootings of black men that have roiled communities across the U.S. It came weeks after fatal shootings by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Olango, a Ugandan refugee who arrived in the U.S. as a boy, had a criminal record that included drug and weapon charges but no violence. 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 911 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.

Olango is seen walking through the parking lot and then stopping suddenly as Gonsalves approached, his weapon drawn at his side.

Olango, his right hand in his pants pocket, moved side to side and backed up toward a white pickup truck.

As Gonsalves moved in from the front, a second officer, Josh McDaniel, got out of a cruiser and approached from the side.

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 assumed the shooting stance and Gonsalves quickly fired four shots at close-range. A woman shrieked loudly as Olango fell forward.

That night, as an angry crowd protested outside police headquarters, Davis released a single image from the video showing Olango with his hands clasped in front and in the shooting stance. Police said he had ignored repeated orders to show his hands.

Davis defended the release and said it was intended to de-escalate tensions and correct what he felt was a "false narrative" that was developing. Some witnesses said Olango had his hands in the air and was begging not to be shot.

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.

The Rev. Shane Harris of the civil rights organization National Action Network said the low-quality videos, shot at a distance, didn't clarify what led to the shooting and said they're likely to make people angrier.

Two more events were scheduled to be held downtown in response to the shooting of Alfred Olango including "March for Alfred Olango," organized by 'Black and Blue United' who marched down Broadway at 3 p.m. and the "Power to the People" organizers marched to the Hall of Justice at 5 p.m.


Before You Leave, Check This Out