El Cajon mayor asks for patience after deadly shooting of Alfred Olango

EL CAJON, Calif. - The mayor of El Cajon discussed Wednesday the investigation into the fatal shooting of an unarmed man.

Mayor Bill Wells spoke to media Wednesday afternoon and asked the public to be patient and allow the investigation process to determine what happened Tuesday afternoon.  He said he watched video of the deadly shooting and didn't want to jump to conclusions.

Watch the entire video of Mayor Bill Wells and other county officials' news conference.

The protests Wednesday have been "loud and angry, but they've been peaceful," Wells said.

Mayor of El Cajon speaks to the media a day after an officer shot an unarmed man.

Mayor of El Cajon speaks to the media a day after an officer shot an unarmed man.

"Our plans are to keep people, persons and property safe. I can not give you any specifics as we don't know what will unfold," Wells said.

The events that led to fatal confrontation began when officers were dispatched to investigate a report of a pedestrian behaving erratically and walking in traffic in a downtown district just east of Parkway Plaza mall. They contacted the man, later identified as Alfred Olango, behind a restaurant in the 700 block of Broadway, police Capt. Frank LaHaye said.

Moments later, one of the officers shot Olango with an electric stun gun, and the other opened fire with his service gun. Witnesses reported hearing about five gunshots.

Medics took the gravely wounded man to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Hours later, police released a still image lifted from citizen video taken at the shooting scene. It showed a man in a crouching stance, holding something up in front of him with two officers apparently training weapons on him.

Authorities have declined to disclose what Olango was holding, though they acknowledged it was not a gun. Some news agencies reported that he may have been clutching an electronic smoking device.

Protesters criticized the release of only one photo, instead of the entire video.

Alfred Olango

Alfred Olango

El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis told reporters the officers involved in the shooting, each with more than 20 years of service, were placed on administrative leave for at least three days, as per protocol. He promised a thorough and transparent multi-agency investigation.

Some protesters questioned why personnel with special training to deal with the mentally ill were not dispatched. They also called for a federal law enforcement investigation into the shooting.

Some purported witnesses also alleged that cell phones were confiscated from bystanders at the scene. LaHaye countered that no phones were taken other than one that was voluntarily turned over by an employee at a nearby restaurant.

"This was the only phone provided to officers in this investigation,'' the captain said. "No other phones were taken from witnesses.''

Despite that claim, Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, noted that confiscating witnesses' phones violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

"The public has the right to film police in public places, and police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photos or video without a warrant,'' Chavez-Peterson said. "Under no circumstances may police officers delete your photos or videos.''

She said the agency would be "paying close attention as the details of this situation unfold.''

Christopher Rice-Wilson of Alliance San Diego said every death of a black man at the hands of police sends a message to the community to "stay in line.'' He attributed what befell Olango to "three strikes'' -- being black, being mentally ill and not following orders.

"Black lives matter,'' Rice-Wilson said. "And if a black life doesn't matter, then no life matters.''

Mallory Webb of the NAACP's Youth & College Division said police shootings of black people had made her "scared to walk the streets every single day.''

"That could be my little brother,'' Webb said of Olango. "That could be my twin sister at any time, and I don't know what to do.''