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El Cajon police say unarmed black man pointed vape at officer before he was shot to death

Agnes Hasam, a family friend of the late Alfred Olango, speaks to protesters at El Cajon Police HQ to protest the killing of an unarmed man Tuesday by officers. September 28, 2016. REUTERS

Alfred Okwera Olango, who was black, was fatally shot by police in El Cajon, California on Tuesday. Police in the San Diego suburb city say the 38 year old Ugandan immigrant pointed a vape pen or e-cigarette device at them, before police shot the man to death.

Officers were responding to a call of a man behaving erratically, and walking in traffic. Olango's friends and supporters say court records show that he suffered from mental illness, and may have been experiencing a seizure before his death. An El Cajon police officer is believed to have shot Olango within as little as one or two minutes after arriving at the scene.

A woman identified as the victim's sister sits on a curb, in shock, as the ambulance carrying her brother leaves without her.

Here is a portion of the El Cajon Police Department's Wednesday night statement on the killing of Mr. Olango:

Today, the El Cajon Police Department received calls of a man who was “not acting like himself”. He was walking in traffic, not only endangering himself, but motorists. Two officers located him behind a local restaurant in the 800 block of Broadway. The subject described as an adult African American male in his 30’s, wearing a black tank top and blue jeans. The subject refused multiple instructions by the first officer on scene to remove his concealed hand from in his pocket. Because the subject did not comply the officer drew his firearm and pointed it at the subject while continuing to give him instructions to remove his hand from his pocket.

The second responding officer arrived on scene and immediately prepared to deploy a less lethal electronic control device while the other officer covered.

The subject paced back and forth while officers tried to talk to him. At one point, the subject rapidly drew an object from his front pants pocket, placed both hands together and extended them rapidly toward the officer taking up what appeared to be a shooting stance. At this time, the officer with the electronic control device discharged his weapon. Simultaneously, the officer with the firearm discharged his weapon several times, striking the subject.

Officers provided first aid on scene until medics arrived and transported the subject to an area hospital for treatment. The subject has passed away as a result of his injuries.

While detectives where on scene investigating the officer involved shooting, a witness came forward and notified officers they had video footage of the incident. That witness voluntarily provided their phone to the police department and gave written consent for the officers to view the video. Investigators have been able to download the video. This was the only phone provided to officers in this investigation. No other phones were taken from witnesses. Investigators are reviewing the video and other video recovered from the scene. All video recovered so far in this investigation clearly shows the incident as described above.

From USA Today:

The vape smoking device had a silver cylinder that was three inches long and one inch wide, police said. The electronic cigarette was collected as evidence from the scene, according to the statement.

Police also said that members of the police agency's Psychiatric Emergency Response Team may accompany police on calls, but the team was on a different call and not available when police responded to the call regarding Olango.

A woman who is identified as Olango's sister appears in a YouTube video saying that her brother had mental problems. The woman says she called authorities three different times to help her subdue him. Her brother was walking in traffic, she said.

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"They shouldn't have called police — they should have called crisis communications," the woman is heard saying on the video as she sits on a curb, her head in her hands.

"They just killed him," she said, weeping.

The ambulance carrying Olango's body drives away without her.

Reuters reports that protesters gathered in El Cajon on Wednesday shouting "murder," and demanded a federal investigation.

Mr. Olango had dreamed of opening an African family-style restaurant in the San Diego area:

His Facebook profile listed jobs as head chef at a Hooters restaurant and a Western-themed steakhouse in Arizona, and said he studied at San Diego Mesa College.

Olango was developing plans to open a restaurant with his family that would share "the wonderful tastes of Africa with Americans," his brother said.

"We suffered too much with the war in Africa, and we come here just to suffer again?" said Agnes Hassan, from Sudan, who said she spent time with Olango in a refugee camp.

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