The family of Alfred Olango, a man killed by El Cajon police last year, said they expected the District Attorney to announce the officer who shot and killed their loved one was justified in using lethal force -- but nevertheless they hope to find justice for their family member.
"The battle line has been drawn," Richard Olango said. "We are going to fight, we are move forward and advance forward. We are not going to move any steps back."
Olango's family spoke at the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in San Diego Tuesday hours after San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis wrapped up her press conference, announcing the results of the office's review of five recent fatal police and deputy-involved shootings.
Dumanis said in all five fatal shootings -- involving victims David Moya, Sergio Weick, Alfred Olango, Juan Carlos Fernandez and Trenton Lohman -- the law enforcement officers were justified in their decisions.
In the controversial case of Olango, Dumanis added that the only reasonable conclusion after looking at the facts of the case was that the "officer's actions were legally justified and understandable."
Dumanis said at the press conference Olango's family was notified through an attorney of the press conference, but was not told of the decision in advance.
Richard Olango said though they were not told in advance, the decision did not come as a surprise to them.
"We expected that," he told the church, his family behind him.
As he spoke, Richard said the family planned to move forward in their search for justice for their son, brother and father, who was hot and killed by El Cajon police officers on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016.
"That statement has given us strength courage and challenge to make sure we fight this war and win it," Richard said.
He said the real surprise was seeing the district attorney defending a case where someone died.
"In America, I am surprised to see that a person who killed a human being – the person who killed that person is not even arrested," Richard said. "I am surprised."
Olango, 38, was first reported to be walking in and out of traffic in the middle of the street and “not acting like himself,” when his sister called officers for help.
El Cajon Police Chief Jeff Davis said Olango refused multiple instructions to remove his hand from in his pocket before he pulled out an object and held it in front of him “like he would be firing a gun.” The object was later determined to be a vaping device.
Video of the shooting captured Officer Gonsalves approaching Olango in the parking lot of a strip mall in El Cajon, firing several rounds just moments later.
Dumanis said a special operations division, prosecutors and Dumanis herself examined the case and visited the scene before making their decision on whether the officers would face charges.
"After carefully reviewing the facts, the evidence and the law we’ve determined the officer’s use of deadly force was reasonable under the circumstances and he bears no criminal liability for his actions," Dumanis said.
Dumanis touched on the widespread media attention Olango’s case has garnered and mentioned the protests sparked by the case.
"In many ways, the response in San Diego County to this officer-involved shooting is reflective of a bigger picture, in conversations that are happening across the nation," Dumanis said. "We’re living in a time where the actions of police officers are under scrutiny more than ever."
Dumanis said the circumstances surrounding Olango's death are tragic and said law enforcement would continue to work with the community as they have in the past.
"I understand the desire among some to voice their anger and disagreement over this decision but its also my genuine hope that people can direct anger into a constructive conversation that focuses on a positive change," Dumanis said.