Authorities have released two videos showing police shooting an unarmed black man in a suburb of San Diego, California. The footage was made public following days of protests.
Two grainy videos released by police in a San Diego suburb show officers confronting Ugandan immigrant Alfred Olango before opening fire at close range.
Olango, 38, was killed in the encounter, which took place Tuesday in a parking lot in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon. Angry locals have staged nightly - often violent - protests over the shooting, as Olango's family pleaded with authorities to show them footage of the incident.
El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis said the decision to release the videos aimed to counter misinformation and ease escalating tensions in the community.
"Our only concern at this point was community safety," Davis said. "We felt that the aggression of some - some - of the protesters was escalating to the point where it was necessary to release some information and truly, it was my hope to relieve some of that concern."
According to police, the two officers seen in the footage - Richard Gonsalves and Josh McDaniel - arrived on the scene after reports of a "mentally unstable" man walking in traffic.
Police said Olango had ignored commands to take his hand out of his pocket. Instead, they said, he pulled out an object, assumed a "shooting stance" and pointed the device at the officers. Gonsalves opened fire with his gun and McDaniel discharged a Taser device. The object in Olango's hand was later determined to be an e-cigarette device with a barrel-like tip.
On the night of the shooting, police released a single still image of Olango pointing his clasped hands towards officers. Olango's relatives and protesters then demanded to see the full video of the incident, saying the single frame created an unfair impression of the former Ugandan refugee.
In an emotional appeal on Thursday, Olango's mother said her son was having a mental breakdown and that police should have helped him instead of opening fire.
The newly released video footage came from a nearby surveillance camera and the cell phone of a bystander. In the phone video, a woman can be heard shouting at Olango to put up his hands and telling police not to shoot before at least four shots ring out.
Reverend Shane Harris of the civil rights organization National Action Network said the low-quality videos didn't clarify what led to the shooting, adding they were likely to make people angrier.
"What we saw today, that isn't enough," he said.
An attorney for the family, Dan Gilleon, welcomed the release of the videos but said they supported his view that "a cowboy with his gun drawn" had "provoked a mentally disturbed person."
Prosecutors said an investigation into the shooting was underway, and that no decision had been made on whether to charge the officers involved. Both men have been placed on administrative leave.
The incident is the latest in a series of fatal shootings of black men at the hands of police officers in the United States.
nm/cmk (Reuters, AP, AFP)