EL CAJON, Calif. — A San Diego jury ruled in favor Wednesday of an El Cajon police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Ugandan immigrant in 2016.
The suit was the only one of several to go to trial regarding the shooting of Alfred Olango, 38, who was killed on Sept. 27, 2016, by El Cajon officer Richard Gonsalves. Olango was shot four times after pulling what turned out to be a vape smoking device out of his pants pocket.
Jurors deliberated for about an hour before ruling unanimously that Gonsalves was not negligent in shooting Olango.
Olango’s sister, Lucy, witnessed the shooting and filed suit against Gonsalves and the city of El Cajon. Other plaintiffs who filed separate suits that were consolidated into the case include Olango’s wife, Taina Rozier, and Olango’s daughter, Chare Rozier-Olango.
Gonsalves was initially called to the scene by Olango’s sister, who requested help with her mentally unstable younger brother, according to court documents.
Alfred told Lucy he was afraid that people were following him, according to the plaintiff’s trial brief. He also began walking into traffic and was nearly struck by several cars in the early afternoon hours of Sept. 27.
Lucy Olango alleged that Gonsalves “needlessly escalated” the situation into “a deadly confrontation,” while Gonsalves alleged that Olango refused to take his hand out of his pocket following “repeated requests,” then took a “shooter’s stance” and leveled what Gonsalves thought was a gun at the officer’s head.
Lucy Olango alleged that she told a 911 dispatcher that her brother was unarmed and told Gonsalves at the scene that he didn’t have a gun.
In addition to the jury’s findings, the shooting was deemed legally justified by the San Diego County District Attorney’s office in early 2017.