Police in the El Cajon suburb of San Diego have released a surveillance video from a local business that shows an unarmed Ugandan refugee being shot dead in a car park on Tuesday.
As two police officers close in on Alfred Olango his sister Lisa Peterson, who is standing nearby, shouts: “Officer don’t shoot him!” One officer then fires at least four times whilst the other fires an electronic stun gun as Peterson screams.
A police statement said Olango refused to remove one of his hands from a trouser pocket and then pointed what they believed was a gun at them. It was in fact a vaporiser, an electronic cigarette.
Three nights of protests, sometimes violent, have rocked the city and police hope that releasing the video may ease tensions.
“Our only concern at this point, was community safety. We felt that the aggression of some – some of the protesters was escalating to the point where it was necessary to release some information,” Jeff Davis, El Cajon’s police chief, told a news conference on Friday.
Olango’s sister said she rang the police before the shooting, warning them that her brother was “mentally perturbed” and needed help.
After the shooting Olango’s mother, Pamela Benge said she could not believe her family fled war-torn northern Uganda only to be shot dead by police in the United States.
Multiple killings of black people by armed police have sparked protests in cities across the US in recent months.
Where all 2015 police killings were BLK. #BlackLivesMatter
samswey</a>/<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MappingPoliceViolence?src=hash">#MappingPoliceViolence</a><a href="https://t.co/BbwCi6LfnZ">https://t.co/BbwCi6LfnZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/k1jnEB5w3I">pic.twitter.com/k1jnEB5w3I</a></p>— Jason Patterson (jason_patterson) January 2, 2016
The Black Lives Matter protest group claims that 216 black people have been killed this year.