US police video of fatal shooting of black man shows vape inhaler

AFP , Saturday 1 Oct 2016

Alfred Olango
Alfred Olango, a father and refugee who fled political persecution in Uganda, was shot and killed by an El Cajon, California police officer (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

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, being confronted by two police officers in the parking lot of a strip mall and then being shot as he pointed a cylindrical object at one of the officers.

The object turned out to be a vape inhaler.

The deadly confrontation in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, has prompted daily street demonstrations that turned violent late Thursday after protesters shut down streets and began throwing bottles and rocks at passing vehicles and smashing car windows.

One person was also pulled off his motorcycle.

"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.

"We believe it is essential to provide the community with as much information as we can at this point."

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.

Local officials in El Cajon have vowed a thorough and transparent investigation and urged calm pending the outcome of the 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 saying he was acting erratically and walking into traffic.

Olango's mother, Pamela Benge, said her son had had a breakdown after losing a friend but was not mentally ill.

"Please protest peacefully," she said through tears at a press conference.

She said the family had arrived as refugees in the United States 25 years ago and described her son as "a good, lovely young man."

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 in both instances, as US law dictates that immigrants cannot be held indefinitely if their country of origin refuses to allow them back.

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