By Miriam Raftery
November 2, 2016 (El Cajon) — The father of Alfred Olango, a Ugandan immigrant who was fatally shot last month by an El Cajon Police Officer Richard Gonsalves, has announced plans to establish the Alfred Olango Justice and Unity Foundation for police reform. In addition, Olango’s sister has filed a claim against the City of El Cajon alleging negligence in her brother’s death.
Richard Olango Abuka said at a rally in Balboa Park last week, “Police are supposed to use a gun as a last resort. From the time police arrived to the time my son was dead was 1 minute and 29 seconds.” He called Officer Gonsalves “a coward.” Abuka wants his son’s death to be a “turning point” to spark positive change.
Family members described Olango as a loving father and normally a joyful person who suffered a mental breakdown after the death of a friend, acting erratically and reportedly walking into traffic when his sister, Lucy, called 911 seeking help for him.
Her claim against the city states that Officer Gonsalves knew Olango was having a mental crisis since dispatch coded the call as “5150” meaning officers could detain a person with a mental health disorder. The officer also knew, or should have known, that Lucy was present and could assist officers in detaining her brother, but instead the officer shot and killed him as she stood by, screaming for them to stop.
The claim contends that Officer Gonsalvez acted negligently in not waiting for a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team, not using non-lethal alternatives, and instead, opting to “confront and provoke” Olango while knowing he lacked the “emotional and mental fitness” to make a rational response.
With the officer advancing on him, gun drawn, Olango withdrew a vape smoking device and pointed it at the officer in a shooting stance, triggering the officer to believe a weapon was being trained on him when he fired four shots, killing Olango in the parking lot of a taco restaurant.
The claim also argues that police knew that Olango had a history of substance abuse. Olango also had a criminal record but police have said they were unaware of it at the time. The claim also notes Gonsalves’ history of being demoted for sexual harassment of a female colleague on the force, raising questions over his judgment and aggressive history. Gonsalves reportedly texted a nude photo to the woman and propositioned the woman and her lesbian partner.
Claims are often precursors to lawsuits, depending on the city’s response.
The nonprofit foundation that Olango’s father announced aims to improve training for police in psychology, human behavior, criminal justice and discipline.
Abuka was joined at the International Day of Remembrance for Victims of Police Brutality by other speakers, including Shakina Ortega, whose husband was killed by San Diego police, and Robert Branch, who took video of a plain-clothes Sheriff’s detective choking him unconscious after an altercation.