San Diego, California – 26 January 2017 – The NAACP San Diego Branch is outraged by the decision of the District Attorney to bring no charges against officer Gonzalves for the shooting and killing of Mr. Alfred Olango, an innocent, unarmed, African male who was experiencing mental distress. ”This decision is a gross miscarriage of justice,” said Dr. André J. Branch, President of the NAACP San Diego Branch. The NAACP is saddened for Mr. Olango’s family and is saddened that the name, Alfred Olango, will now be added to the long list of unarmed Black Americans killed in police involved shootings and/or encounters. Among these names are Ezell Ford, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddy Gray, Sandra Bland, Orlando Castille, and Alton Sterling.
The facts are that at the time that Mr. Olango was killed he was mentally distraught and unarmed. His sister had called the police three separate times to ask for help for her brother who was behaving erratically. He was hemmed in by a fence, officers with a gun, a taser, and a police vehicle. Police officers had their guns drawn in a shooting stance. One officer at the scene deployed a taser; the other officer shot and killed Mr. Olango. The killing of Mr. Olango was inconsistent with good policing. “Police officers should have de-escalated the situation as is often done with white individuals whom they perceive to be threats,” said Dr. André J. Branch, President of the NAACP San Diego Branch. Officers clearly need more training in de-escalating situations.
Given the sister’s cry for help for her brother who was experiencing a psychotic break, members of the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) should have been dispatched. The NAACP calls on the county to allocate additional resources to expand the number of Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams.The process for investigation of police involved shootings is flawed when the police department in which the officer is employed conducts the investigation into the killing and presents the findings to the District Attorney for a decision. This policy and practice must be changed. Moreover, the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights allows all aspects of the investigation to be conducted under a shroud of secrecy. The Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights also allowed the police officer, whom we know shot and killed a man, to walk freely in the community and the society while his colleagues, the police, investigated the killing, and while the District Attorney decided what to do with him. Dr. Branch insists, “No special interest group needs its own special bill of rights. The Bill of Rights that is presently a part of the United States Constitution should be sufficient to protect all of us.”
The NAACP invites all citizens of goodwill, including police officers, to demand equality in the criminal justice system by joining us in working towards abolishing the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.
The District Attorney has called the shooting of Mr. Olango, “a justified shooting.” The shooting and killing of an unarmed innocent man cannot be justified. Consider the message that this decision sends to the San Diego County Citizenry. Now, a segment of the citizenry is afraid to call the police for help. The NAACP San Diego Branch calls on the California Attorney Office and the United States Justice Department to investigate this police involved shooting.