The El Cajon, Calif., police officer who gunned down an unarmed black man who was apparently having a mental breakdown will not face criminal charges, the San Diego County (Calif.) District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
“The law recognizes police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said during a news conference at the Hall of Justice. “As prosecutors, we have an ethical duty to follow the law and only charge individuals when we have proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The only reasonable conclusion was the officer’s actions were justified.”
The family of Alfred Olango, the man who was fatally shot, swiftly denounced Dumanis' announcement, promising to keep fighting for justice for their loved one.
"War has been declared on humanity and the battle line has been drawn,” Olango’s father, Richard Olango Abuka, told reporters at a separate news conference at the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in San Diego's Southcrest neighborhood, the Union-Tribune notes. “This is the time to talk for Alfred. This is the time to defend Alfred … and even to cry for Alfred."
Olango Abuka, who immigrated to the U.S. from Uganda, said that he was shocked that an officer in America could kill another person without being arrested, the news site notes.
Meanwhile, the president of the San Diego branch of the National Action Network, the Rev. Shane Harris, said that he will request that California Gov. Jerry Brown appoint a special prosecutor to the case.
Olango was shot and killed in late September following an altercation in a parking lot behind a taco shop in a strip mall. Police said that Olango was holding a vaping device with a silver cylinder that was mistaken for a gun.
Dumanis said that the way in which Olango abruptly pulled the object from his pocket—rather than slowly obeying the officer's demands—was "critical in determining whether the officer’s fear of being shot was reasonable under the circumstances.”
“It appears Olango’s actions in bringing up his hands in this manner, with the vaping device, was a purposeful, intentional act by Olango to place [Officer Richard] Gonsalves in fear that he was about to be shot,” Dumanis wrote in her letter to the police chief.
A lawyer representing Olango's wife and daughters spoke out against the district attorney's ruling.
“This is not in any way going to diminish our resolve to seek justice for the family through the civil justice system and the reforms that will work to ensure that this type of homicide does not occur in the future,” attorney Brian Dunn said.
Read more at the San Diego Union-Tribune.