A black man who police say was behaving “erratically” was shot and wounded in an encounter Tuesday afternoon in El Cajon, California as a woman identified as the victim’s sister recorded a Facebook Live video of the aftermath, crying and saying “I called you to help me but you killed my brother.”
The incident occurred around 1 p.m. local time at a public shopping center, about 30 miles east of San Diego. Officers told NBC San Diego that the man, identified as Alfred Colango by his sister, was “acting erratically and failed to comply,” though they declined to release any actual information about what, precisely, he did to prompt such a violent response. Friends and family of the victim have told police and reporters that the man in question is mentally disabled.
The Associated Press reports that in a video uploaded to Facebook shows a woman telling police that the man to take his hand out of his pocket.
“I said: ‘Take your hand out your pocket, baby, or they’re going to shoot you.’ He said ‘no, no, no,’ “ the woman said. “When he lifted his hand out ... he did have something in his hand but it wasn’t no gun, and that’s when they shot him.”
According to ABC 10, multiple witnesses reported that the man did not have a weapon in his hand. One witness told reported that the victim in question was having a seizure. Another witness said that “they did not see a weapon - and one witness reported the man had a vaping electronic smoking device.”
One witness, Michael Ray Rodriguez told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the man was shirtless and standing with his hands up. Shortly thereafter, an officer fired.
Protesters have gathered at the scene of the crime expressing their anger and frustration at living in a society where police feel free to shoot with seeming impunity at black men and women. In a video taken by the Union-Tribune, a young woman says “Prayer might not help police stop shooting us. I appreciate the prayer, I do, but the police are not gonna stop shooting us because we prayin’ about it. We’ve been praying for over 400 years.”
Lt. Rob Ransweiler of the El Cajon Police Department confirmed that none of the officers were wearing body cameras at the time. A witness has also voluntarily turned over cell phone footage of the incident, which will be released to the public whenever they see fit. Ransweiler has refused to disclose whether or not the man was armed with a weapon. He has promised a “thorough and complete investigation...to ensure that what happened here today was appropriate.”