Police in the San Diego area fatally shot an unarmed black man about one minute after approaching him.
Officers arrived to the parking lot of a Mexican food restaurant at 2:10 p.m. on Tuesday, after receiving reports of a distraught man walking into traffic. Police shot Alfredo Olango, a 38-year-old refugee from Uganda, at 2:11 p.m.
Police said the man first ignored officers’ commands to remove his hands from his pockets and then quickly drew an “object” from his front pocket and assumed a “shooting stance.” Jeff Davis, the chief of El Cajon Police Department, later confirmed that no weapon had been found at the scene.
The object Olango had pulled out of his pocket was identified as an electronic cigarette, police said Wednesday.
Protesters who gathered near the scene alleged that Olango had his hands up when police shot him. However, police pointed to a video taken by a witness that appeared to show him in a “shooting stance,” the AP reported.
Police released a single frame from the video showing Olango and the officers. The full video of the incident has not yet been released.
The video, shot on Facebook Live by bystander Rumbie Mubaiwa, shows the man’s sister asking why the police had used a gun rather than a stun gun. She also says she should have called a “crisis communication team” rather than the police.
“Why couldn’t you Tase him? I told you he’s sick. And you guys shot him,” she says in the video, crying. “He’s sick, he needs help.”
In a statement, El Cajon police said that one of the responding officers used a “less lethal electronic control device.” It was deployed at the same time that a second officer fired his service weapon.
Witnesses at the scene also described the man as “mentally challenged” to local media, and one said he had a seizure before officers fired. Friends of the man’s family also told The San Diego Union-Tribune that he had a mental illness.
The FBI and the district attorney investigating the incident.
The incident set off protests in the city Tuesday night, and more have been planned for Wednesday, according to Reuters.
The city of El Cajon has a population of 100,000 and is known to attract refugees from Iraq and Syria, The Associated Press reported.
The incident is the latest of several recent police shootings involving people with mental illnesses or disabilities that have garnered national attention — last week in Charlotte, North Carolina, police officers fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott, whose wife said had a traumatic brain injury before the shooting occurred.
A report earlier this year from the Ruderman Family Foundation found that people with disabilities made up a third to half of all people killed by police officers.