Attorney Brian Dunn says he will file a claim against the city on Thursday on behalf Alfred Olango's widow, Taina Rozier, and Olango's two daughters, who are ages 16 and 12. The claim seeks damages for Olango's death and calls for additional training to help officers deal with the mentally ill, Dunn told the Associated Press
A police officer opened fire on Olango within a minute of arriving on the scene the afternoon of Sept. 27. Olango's sister had described her brother as mentally unbalanced in multiple 911 calls.
Video released by police days after the shooting shows the officer approached the 38-year-old man with his gun drawn, as Olango paced in a strip mall parking lot. Olango can be seen pulling something out of his pocket and taking a "shooting stance" — wrapping his hands around a cylinder and aiming it at the officer, who then fires his gun. A second officer fired his Taser simultaneously. The object in Olango's hands turned out to be a 4-inch electronic cigarette device called a vape pen, authorities said.
The El Cajon Police Department, like many police departments, has specially trained officers to help defuse the sometimes-volatile calls that involve people in the throes of mental illness. But El Cajon officials said none were available to go to the call.
Attorney Daniel Gilleon filed a separate claim Oct. 20 against the city of El Cajon on behalf of Olango's sister, Lucy Olango. She said police were negligent in handling her brother, who was experiencing a mental breakdown because of the death of a close friend. The lawsuit also names Officer Richard Gonsalves as a defendant, saying he used deadly force too quickly and without warning.
Another attorney, Rodney Diggs, said he plans to also file a federal claim on behalf of Olango's father, Richard Olango Abuka, for his son's death.
The department's use of force policy, obtained by KPBS in a public records request, says "deadly force is authorized when it appears reasonably necessary to defend himself/herself or others from the immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury; to prevent a crime in which human life is in serious jeopardy as a result of the suspect's actions; to apprehend a fleeing felon for a crime involving serious bodily injury or the use of deadly force where there is substantial risk that the person whose arrest is sought will cause death or serious bodily injury to others if apprehension is delayed."
It goes on to say, "Deadly force shall only be exercised when all reasonable alternatives have been exhausted or appear impracticable."
In 2015, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis ruled the deadly police shooting of Fridoon Rawshan Nehad, who had a history of mental illness and was twirling a pen before being shot by a San Diego police officer, was reasonable and justified.
El Cajon city officials declined to comment for this story.