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Sister of man fatally shot by police files claim against city of El Cajon

Sister of man fatally shot by police files claim against city of El Cajon
Protesters march past the headquarters of the El Cajon Police Department in reaction to the fatal police shooting of Alfred Olango. (Associated Press)

The sister of Alfred Olango has filed a claim against the city of El Cajon, saying the officer who fatally shot her brother last month was negligent.

Attorney Dan Gilleon, who is representing Lucy Olango, said in the claim that Officer Richard Gonsalves had ignored his training when he "aggressively confronted" Olango — despite being told by dispatchers that the man may be mentally ill.

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The claim also asserts Gonsalves should have used less-than-lethal force or de-escalated the situation until a Psychiatric Emergency Response Team arrived. The team of mental health professionals is specially trained to assist officers dealing with people who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

"The lawsuit is demanding that officers follow the rules so the rest of us can have faith that we can call 911 and a loved one won't get shot and killed," Gilleon said Thursday.

Lucy Olango called 911 three times because her brother wasn't acting like himself the afternoon of Sept. 27. Dispatchers referred to the call as a "5150," which can refer to an incident involving a person who is mentally ill.

Two officers arrived nearly an hour after her first call, the claim said. Following a brief interaction, Olango, 38, pulled a vaping device out of his pants pocket and pointed it at the officers in a "shooting stance," police said. One officer fired a Taser at him, and Gonsalves shot him with his gun. The shooting occurred about a minute after the officers arrived.

The claim also blames the department for the shooting, saying sexual harassment allegations against Gonsalves in 2015 indicated he was unfit for duty. Gideon said the officer, who was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant, should have been fired.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said he stands by the decision at the time to keep Gonsalves on the police force. He said his city manager and human resources department extensively investigated the matter.

"I'm confident that they took the matter very seriously," Wells said.

Gilleon said his client feels guilt and regret for "trusting the El Cajon Police Department and calling them for help."

Lucy Olango's claim, a precursor to filing a lawsuit, asserts that she suffered emotional distress in the wake of the shooting. It asks for more than $10,000 to cover economic damages for medical expenses and lost wages.

Winkley and Hernandez write for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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