The recent unrest over police-involved shootings took another turn on Tuesday, September 27 when Alfred Olango was shot and killed by California police officers after police say Olango pointed a vaping device at them. Alfred Okwera Olango had a long history of criminal behavior and was behaving strangely before police responded to a 911 call placed by Olango’s sister.
Alfred Olango Points Vaping Device – Killed by Police
Police initially confronted Alfred Olango in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon where officers described the man as acting erratically. Olango’s sister had called 911 to report her brother’s strange behavior and report that he was walking in traffic. Police say Olango kept his hands in his pockets despite repeated requests from officers to remove them. When Olango finally brought his hands into view, he allegedly withdrew them quickly and adopted a shooting stance while pointing an object with a silver cylinder at police. One officer fired his service weapon while another fired a Taser. Olango died from his gunshot wounds.
Olango’s family later stated that the man was emotionally distraught over the death of a friend and characterized him as a loving father who worked part-time in a furniture store. Although Bill Wells, the mayor of El Cajon, was quick to promise an investigation into Olango’s death, protests were organized in the immediate aftermath of the events.
History of Arrests
Records show that Olango had a long history of run-ins with police officers, at least one of which involved a weapon. In 2005, Alfred Olango was arrested by Colorado police officers after a traffic stop when he was found to be in possession of a 9mm semi-automatic pistol despite having a felony conviction which prevented him from owning a gun. The original felony charges sprang from an earliest arrest in San Diego in which Olango was convicted of receiving stolen property and selling cocaine. Olango offered a plea of guilty in Colorado and was sentenced to almost four years in a federal prison.
Once Olango was released from prison, his troubles continued. Olango violated the terms of his release when he was accused of drunk driving and was returned to court. Given the fact that it was Olango’s sister who called 911 and provided his name, officers who responded to El Cajon were likely aware of Olango’s criminal history.
Protests and Riots
Locals in El Cajon and others from San Diego and surrounding areas organized protests in the wake of Olango’s death. The protests continued for five days with at least 17 arrests for a variety of offenses including driving under the influence and failing to depart an unlawful assembly.
Olango’s death and the subsequent protests come on the heels of other police-involved shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Charlotte, North Carolina. All three incidents involved the shooting of black men. One of the men, Keith Scott of Charlotte, had been previously incarcerated in Texas for killing another man.
While law enforcement officers have come under sharp criticism for Olango’s death and the shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, many are pointing to the criminal histories of Keith Scott and Alfred Olango as a stark reminder that individuals should perhaps wait until all the facts of a case are revealed before making judgements. What can be said with certainty in the case of Alfred Olango is that the man’s choice to point a vaping device in a threatening manner at officers had deadly consequences.