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To L.A. for Olango justice

Activists call for special prosecutor in El Cajon police shooting

Shane Harris and Xavier Becerra
Shane Harris and Xavier Becerra

Community leaders in San Diego are continuing their quest to have a special prosecutor review the fatal September 2016 police shooting of 38-year-old El Cajon resident Alfred Olango.

On March 24 activist Shane Harris, president of San Diego's branch of the National Action Network, met with California attorney general Xavier Becerra at Becerra's Los Angeles office to request that he appoint a special prosecutor in the case.

"It has been our belief at National Action Network all along that local district attorneys investigating local police is a conflict of interest and that these types of investigations must happen independent so it builds public trust," reads a statement from Harris released after the meeting.

Earlier this year San Diego County district attorney Bonnie Dumanis ruled that El Cajon police officer Richard Gonsalves was justified in his shooting of the unarmed Olango, who was shot in the parking lot of an El Cajon taco shop in daylight hours. Shortly after the shooting Gonsalves said he believed Olango was armed because he had been tugging at his pocket; officers, however, did not find a gun but an e-cigarette that Olango had been trying to remove from his pocket.

Dumanis’s ruling angered activists and community members. They believe an independent investigator would find that Gonsalves did not have reason to fire the shots. Olango’s sister, who had called authorities because her brother was acting strange, was telling Gonsalves and the other officer at the scene that Olango did not have any weapons.

And while Harris’s meeting did not result in a call for a special prosecutor, Harris says it is the first step in the right direction. Harris says Becerra vowed to work closely with civil rights leaders on police accountability and promised to meet with Olango's family to discuss the shooting.

"Although I do not know what the outcomes will be," says Harris. "I am confident the families we are working for will get some kind of closure and justice. We are one step closer than before and that is what is important."

As Harris and others plead for a special prosecutor to investigate Olango's death, Olango's family will continue with their civil lawsuit they filed against Gonsalves and the El Cajon Police Department in February of this year.

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Shane Harris and Xavier Becerra
Shane Harris and Xavier Becerra

Community leaders in San Diego are continuing their quest to have a special prosecutor review the fatal September 2016 police shooting of 38-year-old El Cajon resident Alfred Olango.

On March 24 activist Shane Harris, president of San Diego's branch of the National Action Network, met with California attorney general Xavier Becerra at Becerra's Los Angeles office to request that he appoint a special prosecutor in the case.

"It has been our belief at National Action Network all along that local district attorneys investigating local police is a conflict of interest and that these types of investigations must happen independent so it builds public trust," reads a statement from Harris released after the meeting.

Earlier this year San Diego County district attorney Bonnie Dumanis ruled that El Cajon police officer Richard Gonsalves was justified in his shooting of the unarmed Olango, who was shot in the parking lot of an El Cajon taco shop in daylight hours. Shortly after the shooting Gonsalves said he believed Olango was armed because he had been tugging at his pocket; officers, however, did not find a gun but an e-cigarette that Olango had been trying to remove from his pocket.

Dumanis’s ruling angered activists and community members. They believe an independent investigator would find that Gonsalves did not have reason to fire the shots. Olango’s sister, who had called authorities because her brother was acting strange, was telling Gonsalves and the other officer at the scene that Olango did not have any weapons.

And while Harris’s meeting did not result in a call for a special prosecutor, Harris says it is the first step in the right direction. Harris says Becerra vowed to work closely with civil rights leaders on police accountability and promised to meet with Olango's family to discuss the shooting.

"Although I do not know what the outcomes will be," says Harris. "I am confident the families we are working for will get some kind of closure and justice. We are one step closer than before and that is what is important."

As Harris and others plead for a special prosecutor to investigate Olango's death, Olango's family will continue with their civil lawsuit they filed against Gonsalves and the El Cajon Police Department in February of this year.

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2

Nothing new here, really. Going back more than forty years, no cop has ever been prosecuted locally for gunning down a suspect, adversary, or just ordinary citizen. Ed Miller never prosecuted, Paulie Pfingst never prosecuted, and Bahnee D has never done one. Does that mean the cops never go too far? LOL. I can recall a few cases where there was no justification for the gunplay. But the cop "get out of jail card" can be played in every case. "I thought I saw him reach for his (usually) waistband and I thought he was going for a gun, so I wasted him" was the essence. No corroboration necessary, no witnesses, and the story didn't always match the evidence recovered.

Yeah, I know the cops have a tough job. And, no, I never walked a mile in their shoes. I don't want to. But in this case, there were factors that make it a weaker case than many others. Just in the past two years there were other shootings that had less justification that were ruled OK. Good luck guys.

March 24, 2017

The job of a police officer is to protect life and property. He/she is not required to die in the line of duty. Olongo chose to not follow lawful order. He chose to continue acting in a threatening manor. He refused to show his hands. He chose to assume a "shooters stance". If one reviews the shooting frame by frame you will see that, if Olongo had had a gun and fired it the officer would have been dead. The officer fired late. Officers are taught to shoot at the threat. Unlike in the movies it is too late to shoot when you see the barrel of the gun aimed at you. The shooting was justified by any measure.

March 25, 2017

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