FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DISTRICT ATTORNEY DECISION IN THE OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING OF MR. ALFRED OLANGO
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.
SAN DIEGO NAACP AND 14 OTHERS SUE THE COUNTY AND CITY OF EL CAJON FOR VIOLATION OF THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS
PRESS RELEASE OCTOBER 17, 2016 AT 8:00 A.M.
PRESS CONFERENCE AT 10:00 A.M. at the Federal Courthouse at the Corner of Front Street and Broadway The San Diego Branch of the NAACP along with 14 individual plaintiffs will file a lawsuit in Federal Court on Monday October 17, 2016, against County of San Diego, City of El Cajon, Sheriff William Gore and El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis alleging that the they violated the free speech rights of demonstrators late at night on October 1-2 and again on October 15-16, 2016 shortly after midnight, and are now illegally threatening anyone who visits the site with trespassing. On October 1-2, approximately 80 people were gathered for an all night vigil at the site where Alfred Olango was shot and killed by police. The community had created a makeshift memorial at the site, with candles, photographs of Alfred Olango, a canopy and signs. The community was peacefully gathered, praying and paying their respects to Mr. Olango and his family. Mourners had received approval from Los Panchos to hold the vigil in the parking lot behind the taco shop located at 777 Broadway, in El Cajon, California. The Sheriff’s deputies declared the assembly unlawful pursuant to California Penal Code section 407, despite the peaceful nature of the crowd. At approximately midnight, two rows of Sheriff’s deputies lined up at either end of parking lot. Most community members left at that time. Shortly after midnight, the Sheriff’s deputies descended on the gathering with riot gear and attack dogs. Many of the plaintiffs were arrested while standing in a circle praying for Alfred Olango and his family. “We were holding a candlelight vigil and a prayer circle for a friend and the police in riot gear lined up and began moving in closer and closer trying to intimidate us. I instructed everyone to remain peaceful and ignore the police. People tried to plead with them to leave us alone. People were scared. They arrested us while we were holding hands and praying silently.” Said Jean Vilsaint one of the personal friends of Alfred Olango. “To eject us once was bad enough. They did it again last night [October 15-16]. We want to continue to hold our vigil until justice is served on behalf of Alfred Olango.” Dr. Branch, the president of the San Diego NAACP explained, “The Constitution does not simply apply during business hours. It is up to the protestors themselves to disperse when they are satisfied that their message has been received. In this case, law enforcement was either enforcing an unwritten and illegal curfew or was simply tired of observing a peaceful assembly. Breaking up a peaceful vigil was entirely uncalled for and unconstitutional.”
The night of October 15th-16th, 2016 (just after midnight), the police again declared an unlawful assembly ordering people to disperse. This time the Police ordered the prayer vigil, including the candles and photographs of Alfred Olango, to be removed from the property. The police are now threatening to arrest, on charges of criminal trespassing, anyone who goes to the site where Alfred Olango was shot and killed. Plaintiffs will be seeking an injunction to prevent further police harassment of protestors and demonstrators. A press conference will be held at 10:00 A. M. on October 17, 2016 in front of the Federal Courthouse located at the corner of Broadway and Front Streets.
CONTACTS: Dr. André J. Branch, President of the San Diego Branch NAACP, (619) 315-7035 Todd T. Cardiff, Esq., (619) 546-5123 Bryan W. Pease, Esq., (619) 723-0369