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Graphic footage of the fatal police shooting of Alfred Olango was released Friday, following a week of protests in the San Diego County city of El Cajon. Olango, 38, was shot and killed by two police officers during a confrontation Tuesday after reportedly taking what police described to the Los Angeles Times as a "shooting stance." Shortly after the shooting, authorities revealed that Olango was holding an electronic cigarette.
The footage was released during a press conference by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office Friday afternoon, featuring comments from ECPD Chief Jeff Davis, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, and Reverend Gerald Brown. "We want to commend them on moving forward to release this video," Brown said during the press conference. "We want to move forward in peace. It is okay to protest, but we want folks to protest in peace."
"Our goal today is to clarify and hopefully calm the community's concerns regarding the recent officer-involved shooting," Davis told reporters Friday afternoon. Cautioning that the information released alongside the video was preliminary, Davis said the city's "collective concern for safety" was the inspiration behind the video's release. Davis also insisted that initial witness accounts included false information, something he hopes the video's release will clarify.
Davis also released the names of the involved officers, Richard Gonsalves and Josh McDaniel. McDaniel is believed to have used a Taser during the encounter, while Gonsalves is believed to have discharged his weapon. Davis then shared cell phone footage and surveillance footage from a nearby restaurant of the shooting.
"The public has the right to view the full video, not just the El Cajon Police Department's spin," the American Civil Liberties Union's Norma Chavez-Peterson told the Times Friday, shortly before authorities held a press conference announcing the video's release. Before the full recording was made available to the general public, civil rights leaders and protesters across the nation called for its swift and unedited publication to ease tensions in the region.
El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, speaking with 10 News Wednesday, argued that holding the video's release only made suspicions surrounding Olango's death worse. "I think that once the video is released people are going to be very understanding of what's happening," Wells said. "I don't think there's going to be a lot of shock or new revelation."
The fatal shooting occurred outside a strip mall restaurant, with a witness telling 10 News reporters shortly after that Olango's hands were raised when the fatal shots rang out. Another witness theorized that Olango "may have suffered a seizure," though police disputed these claims and insisted Olango had been uncooperative during the encounter.
Olango's mother, Pamela Benge, said at a press conference Thursday that her son was in need of someone properly trained to handle the situation. "Mental breakdown is not easy to control," Benge told NBC News, adding that Olango was upset regarding the recent death of a friend. "He needed someone who was trained. Just calm him down, and then take care of the situation. That's all that the call was called for. Not to come and just finish his life."