By Ken Stone
Updated at 11:45 a.m. Jan. 11, 2017
The father of slain refugee Alfred Olango said Tuesday he and his allies would seek prosecution of an El Cajon police officer using “all the tactics we need until the last man is gunned down.”Hours after the county district attorney announced no charges in the case, Richard Olango Abuka joined with the Rev. Shane Harris, president of the local National Action Network, who vowed a conference call with Gov. Jerry Brown to press for a special prosecutor.
“In New York, the same thing happened with Gov. Cuomo,” Harris told the Olango family at Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Southcrest.
“He appointed a special prosecutor in the [Eric] Garner case, which made a huge difference. … This district attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, (is) not going to get away with this by a long shot.”
Abuka, speaking with a Ugandan lilt, told a press conference that he’s prepared to use “guerrilla tactics, but a guerrilla can fight without guns.”
Harris, who turns 25 in two weeks, said he and Abuka would meet Friday in Washington with Justice Department officials on a request for a federal prosecutor — made in a letter from the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association in conjunction with NAN and NAACP.On Saturday, they’ll march with National Action Network’s leader, the Rev. Al Sharpton. Then they’ll lead their own San Diego march downtown Monday, ending at City Hall, where he hopes to “channel” the community’s anger.
Dumanis’ decision not to charge El Cajon police Officer Richard Gonsalves in the Sept. 27 shooting left him and the family “shocked but not distraught,” Harris said.
“The whole world was watching to see if San Diego would make the right move,” he said. “They say this is America’s Finest City. I say it ain’t looking so fine right now.”
Citing other police killings of unarmed black men or boys, Harris linked El Cajon to the national issue of local prosecutors investigating local police, which he called a conflict of interest.
“The local prosecutors are endorsed by police,” Harris said. “So why would I go against who I’m endorsed by?”He backed efforts in Sacramento and Washington to mandate special prosecutors in officer-involved shootings.
“We hope that our local prosecutors and our local leaders would be leaders enough to come out and say: We can’t handle this. We need to hand this off to the big dogs,” Harris said.
He and Abuka pointed to several “red flags” that would justify a special prosecutor in the El Cajon case, including what they called a failure to follow police procedures.
“When they arrived, the police officer did not assess the situation,” Abuka said. “In 9 seconds, he killed my son. He did not assess anything” or take steps to protect himself before facing a 38-year-old man with mental issues who appeared to be pointing a gun at him (it was a vaping device).
Harris noted how Olango’s wife had called 911 three times — each time asked whether Alfred was white or black.“Then it takes 55 minutes for you to get there. And one minute to shoot him five times and kill him. Where was the PERT team (Psychiatric Emergency Response Team)?” he said. “Where was the clinician that’s supposed to be on site with the officer? We’ve got enough [probable cause] right there to pursue a special prosecutor.”
Speaking to the family before the press conference, Harris said Gonslaves would be “hit from every angle.”
“He’s got a history of sexual harassment in the department that we know about. … I’m calling for several protests to happen. And I’ll call for peaceful protests,” he said. “Community, turn your anger and frustration and channel. We’re getting ready to take them on a ride, and it’s not going to be breaking windows.”
Harris and Abuka both brought up the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday will be celebrated with a downtown parade Sunday.
“If he was here today, he’d be fighting for the downtrodden,” Harris said. “He’d be fighting for those who dealt with racial profiling.”
Abuka recalled being punished in 1968 in Uganda for expressing outrage after King’s slaying.
“If Martin Luther King Jr. was alive today,” he said, “I think he would start another revolution.”
Harris was asked: If Alfred Olango had been white, would there have been a different outcome?“We believe there would be,” Harris said. “We believe he wouldn’t have even got shot.” He then noted local and national cases where nonblacks were spared — even when shooting at the police.
Abuka was adamant.
Gonsalves “knew when he left the police station he was going to confront a black man, and he was ready to go and kill my son,” he said. “If his intention was not to kill, he wouldn’t have shot … five bullets. He would have used one bullet to disable him. He was determined to kill.”
Aside from protests and calls for a special prosecutor, two wrongful-death claims have been filed against El Cajon — by the victim’s parents, sisters and wife. A third potential lawsuit, by his sister Lucy, calls for damages involving the mental suffering of watching her brother get killed, Harris said.
“Justice for us is not just the family getting paid,” Harris told Olango’s relatives and supporters. “Because they’re going to get paid. They’re going to get something from the city. But we want the officer prosecuted.”
He told the press: “We want justice. NAN is going to go after [prosecution] along with the other groups like a snake in the grass.”
Said Abuka: “If you kill somebody’s dog, you’re arrested and put in jail. Why is it that this man kill a human being and he’s left at large?”
Harris said a “season of civil disobedience” would start later this month in support of his call for a special prosecutor, which church pastor — and local NAN vice president — Jared Moten echoed with a call for other clergy to take part.
“I know a God who will show us the way out, when it seems there’s no way out,” Harris said. “It may look down right now. It may be sad right now, but this fight will continue, and God will give us the faith and the diligence to continue.”
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