160928113823-01-el-cajon-police-shooting-0928-exlarge-169The social justice narrative is playing out once again in El Cajon, CA, a San Diego suburb, as CNN reports: 

Two protesters were arrested after 50 people blocked an intersection in El Cajon, California, to demand accountability following the police shooting of an unarmed black man.

Alfred Olango, 38, pulled a vaping device from his pocket and pointed it at police Tuesday before one officer fatally shot him and another discharged a Taser, El Cajon police said.”

His death set off demonstrations in the San Diego suburb as activists demanded authorities release video of the shooting. They also want a federal probe into Olango’s death.

The usual tactics have been employed: blocking freeways, harassing innocent citizens, attacking police, etc. Also usual, a mealy mouthed statement by the Mayor:

Mayor Bill Wells

Mayor Bill Wells

[Bill] Wells said he understood the frustration of demonstrators, who blocked a freeway exit Wednesday.

The protests were ‘angry and loud’ but peaceful, he said.

‘It’s their First Amendment right,’ he said. ‘I understand that they don’t feel heard. I understand that they’re wanting more information.’

Wells said he had seen the video and it pained him, but he called for patience as the investigation runs its course.

‘I saw a man who was distraught, a man who was acting in ways that looked like he was in great pain, and I saw him get gunned down and killed and it broke my heart,’ he said. ‘If it was my son, I would be devastated.

Notice that while Wells make a perfunctory plea to hold judgment until the investigation was completed, his thoughtlessly emotional conclusion obliterated any call to reason. What Wells saw on that video was the reality faced by police officers every day. Violence is not beautifully filmed in cinematic slow motion and manipulated to produce specific emotions. It is incredibly fast, brutal, ugly and cruel. Police officers deal with the deranged, criminal and violent so that people like Wells don’t have to, yet it is people like Wells that mindlessly wish to remove that thin blue line between civilization and a state of nature. A bit of background on this case:

On Tuesday afternoon, El Cajon police responded to a 911 call reporting a man in his 30s was behaving ‘erratically’ behind a restaurant, Lt. Rob Ransweiler said.

According to the call, the man was ‘not acting like himself’ and had been walking in traffic, endangering himself and motorists, police Chief Jeff Davis said.

The woman calling 911 claimed to be the man’s sister and told the dispatcher he was mentally ill and unarmed, Davis said. Investigators have not been able to confirm whether the caller was the man’s sister, he said.

Olango’s mother, Pamela Benge, later said he was not mentally ill. He was mourning the loss of a friend, she said.

‘He wasn’t mentally ill, never,’ she said. “He was going through a mental breakdown. He lost someone dearly … mental breakdown was not easy to control, he needed someone to calm him down.

Oh, well, of course. A “mental breakdown” certainly isn’t mental illness. Interestingly, the woman that made the original 911 call is refusing to cooperate with the police. Equally interesting is that it took officers 50 minutes to respond to the call because they were too busy elsewhere. Something to keep in mind when anti-liberty/anti-gun types claim the police can and will protect everyone. That kind of response time is far more common than the police want to admit.

Once they arrived, Olango kept his hands concealed in his pockets while pacing back and forth, police said. As a second officer prepared a Taser, the man ‘rapidly drew an object’ and placed both hands on it ‘like you would be holding a firearm,’ Davis said.

One officer fired his gun at Olango, while a second officer discharged his Taser, he said. Both are on three-day administrative leave.

Local “activists” are demanding the police release all video and every other bit of evidence, which police departments virtually never do so early in an investigation for legitimate reasons of law and evidence integrity. There is, as is usual in such cases, no reason to believe a video would assuage the mobs, and every reason to believe they’d ignore it unless it supported their narrative.

NPR, of all media outlets, accidently provided some useful context on Olango:

Olango was a refugee from Uganda, the AP reports, who had a part-time job in a furniture store. He had a history of run-ins with the police, with convictions for selling cocaine, receiving stolen property and drunken driving. He had served time in federal prison for possessing a gun as a felon.

The lawyer representing Olango’s family told the AP that Olango was a loving father who was having an emotional breakdown after his best friend’s death.

The wire service also spoke to a woman named Agnes Hassan, originally from Sudan, who says she and Olango spent time in a refugee camp together. She described him as an educated man with mental problems, saying that both of them suffered in order to get to the U.S.

It’s interesting that very often, these entirely innocent, educated, loving fathers and family men—such as Keith Lamont Scott–have lengthy records as violent felons.


Keep in mind, please, gentle readers, that this brief analysis is based entirely on the information available through media accounts. However, in many circumstances, photos are worth a thousand words, which appears to be the case here. I will, of course, update and change any erroneous observations or conclusions as better and more complete evidence becomes available. A story—true—from my police days, may help to illustrate the issues.

One evening I was given a call of a man who was going through a divorce. He was at his wife’s home, banging on the door and demanding to be let in. She wanted nothing to do with him, and was worried about his mental state.

By the time my backup and I arrived—our response time was about 5 minutes—the man was seated behind the wheel of his car, which wasn’t running, in the driveway. We approached and I asked him to roll down the window, which he did. I quickly learned he was the guy we were looking for. He was nervous, and depressed, moving and talking slowly and resignedly. As my partner went to the door to speak with the woman/caller, I asked for his identification.

Moving with great speed and determination, the opposite of his affect to that point, he shifted in his seat and reached behind his right hip, exactly in the attitude and motions of one drawing a handgun. He shot his hand out in front of him in the same manner, holding a black billfold as though it were a handgun.

As regular readers know, I am blessed with extraordinarily fast reflexes, and the moment the man’s hand began its forward movement, I had already leaped backward a yard and drawn my handgun. I simultaneously exclaimed “gun” in a register that would have made an operatic soprano jealous. This caused my partner to began to run back toward the car. In the meantime, I noticed the man was holding still, the billfold still extended outward, and, reason finally catching up with reflexes, realized he was not holding a gun. I quickly told my partner it was a billfold.

And the man? After talking to the woman, who explained he had been raving about killing himself, I took him into custody on a mental health hold. He was trying to commit suicide by cop, and had the bad/good luck to stumble into a cop fast and practiced enough to take the extra fractions of a second necessary to realize he didn’t need to be shot.

Would I have been justified in shooting him? Absolutely. Everything he was doing indicated to me, because of my training and experience, that he, in those fractions of a second, was a threat of serious bodily injury or death (to understand the elements necessary for the use of deadly force, go here). I would have been routinely relieved of patrol duties while the investigation was completed, but eventually exonerated (he eventually admitted he was trying to get me to shoot him). Dealing with having to shoot someone that was unarmed and actually baiting me into killing him would have been another matter. That he was unarmed doesn’t matter. I had every reason to believe he had a gun, and most police officers would have given him his wish.

Another obvious attempt at "hands up; don't shoot"

Another obvious attempt at “hands up; don’t shoot”

Let’s return to El Cajon and Alfred Olango. The responding officers had reason to believe he might be on drugs, mentally ill, or behaving oddly for some other reason, which made Olango potentially dangerous, ratcheting up their internal threat meters. What the article did not say is the officers were certainly telling Olango to slowly remove his hands from his pockets. Why? That’s where weapons are often kept, any competent officer would have done that, and his refusal to do as they asked would dramatically move their threat meter needles. The article suggests that one officer was readying his Taser. What it does not indicate is the other had surely unholstered his handgun and was probably at ready (holding the weapon in a two-handed grip, its muzzle pointed toward the general area of Olango’s waistline). Notice that the officers were properly positioned so that if they had to fire, they would not shoot each other.

At this point, Olango had control of the situation. If he simply and slowly removed his empty hands from his pockets, and did as the officers asked, he would almost surely not have been shot. But he apparently not only rapidly and dramatically drew the vaping device, which had a shape that could easily be taken for the barrel of a handgun, but he simultaneously moved into a two-handed shooter’s stance, as depicted in the photograph.

Just as was the case in my long-ago situation, the officers had every reason to believe Olango was about to shoot them, and responded appropriately. Why did the officer with the Taser use that on Olango? Situations like this take place with blinding speed. He used it because that was what was in his hand at the moment. Remember, he was in the process of readying the Taser when Olango committed suicide by cop. Given enough time, he would almost certainly have preferred to use his handgun.

But why didn’t they just tase him? From the CNN account, the officers didn’t have time. One was apparently keeping Olango covered with his handgun, because tasers don’t always work, and because Olango might not go along with their intentions. This is normal procedure in this kind of situation. These officers were 21-year veterans, obviously well experienced. They were skilled enough to try to take Olango with a Taser; he just didn’t give them the time to do it.

Did Olango intentionally commit suicide by cop, or was he so mentally unbalanced he didn’t have any idea what he was doing? His actions would suggest the former. He apparently, and at just the right time, moved in exactly the right way to make the officers think he was trying to shoot them. This indicates a degree of conscious planning not seen in the mentally incapacitated.

Hopefully the officers have sufficient time in to retire. Even if they are exonerated, as everything currently known suggests they must be, their careers are over. Even if they were willing to continue, BLM/social justice cractivists have painted targets on their backs. Their presence among their colleagues will endanger every police officer on the force. Their absence will make their community less safe, and make criminals more successful, which is just what criminals, and their progressive advocates, want.

When they don’t care about the facts, and about the consequences of their demands, that’s all that’s left, isn’t it?