When El Cajon, CA, police initially reported that their officers had shot and killed Alfred Olango in a strip mall parking lot Tuesday afternoon, they said it was because he had pointed an object threateningly at officers that they thought was a weapon.
Turns out that object was actually a vape pen.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, police released a detailed description of the device.
The object that Mr. Olango drew from his pant pocket and pointed at the officer is a vape smoking device. The vape has an all silver cylinder (Smok TFV4 MINI) that is approximately 1” diameter and 3” long that was pointed toward the officer. The box of the vape that was held in his grip, is 4” x 2 1/4”s x 1” (Pioneer for You Vape). The vape was collected as evidence from the scene.
The statement also explained why the city's Psychiatric Emergency Response Team did not respond to calls made by Olango's sister, who had reported that he was mentally ill. During the hours in which officers responded to the call, the statement claimed, the active PERT clinician was on a separate radio call with a different officer.
In a Tuesday press conference, Lt. Rob Ransweiler claimed that Olango rapidly drew an object” with both hands on it “like you would be holding a firearm."
Police released a still image from a video of the shooting appearing to show Olango pointing an object at officers, who had their weapons drawn. El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis said Tuesday the video verifies the department's version of events, but they will not release it until the district attorney has reviewed the evidence.
One of the responding officers was identified by El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells on Wednesday as Richard Gonsalves. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Gonsalves is a 21-year veteran of the department who was demoted last year after a fellow officer sued him and the city for alleged sexual harassment. Wells did not say whether Gonsalves was the officer who fired the gun or the Taser.
Extensive protests over Olango's death continued late into Wednesday, with hundreds taking to the streets calling for justice for Olango. The protests were peaceful, despite the presence of police equipped with riot gear and wooden clubs.