In the U.S., the Headlines were fresh with another tragic tale of a police shooting involving an unarmed black man, although this time they highlighted the fact that the victim was holding a vape device in his hand, which was reported as the primary reason for him being shot down.

The police mistook the device for a weapon, perhaps a firearm of some sorts. However, this device just fired up coils to heat liquid in order to produce vapor – not bullets. Nor could it fire off beebies, nor pellets, or tear gas. Just vapor. Vapor for the purpose of inhalation.

The Headlines

This story was Reported by the Associated Press on September 29th, 2016. On Fox News Online, the Headlines stated, “Man Killed by California Police Holding Vaping Device, Having Emotional Breakdown”. Another Headline by listed, “Police Shooting Victim was Pointing e-Cigarette”

The way in which the headlines are written, it almost seems as if they are deliberately trying to hint that now Vape devices are causing even more danger. However, it is obvious by now that one man holding a Vape device is much less dangerous than a group of uniformed, trained officers with weapons drawn, surrounding an unarmed citizen. Right?

Considering these scenarios, which could be categorized as the most dangerous? This situation shouldn’t even have to be questioned. The true question is ultimately creepier – which is, even though it feels eerily like the mainstream headlines are demonizing Vape devices. Or, is it more of a warning to Vapers? In that case, why not print this headline: “WARNING your Vape device could be mistaken for a gun – USE with CAUTION!” Seems only logical since we already know the police are killing unarmed civilians at alarming rates, so there’s no need for a warning about that.

How did this really happen?

It was reported that the unarmed black man equipped with a vaping device was shot by police in a San Diego suburb. According to reports, Alfred Olango, a refugee from Uganda, had a history of run-ins with authorities.

According to the Fox News website, Olango was shot several times after refusing to obey police commands and drawing an object from his pants pocket and pointing it at an officer in a “shooting position,” police said. Officers later said the item was an electronic cigarette, or vaping, device.

The police were responding to a 9-1-1 call from the victim’s sister who had claimed Alfred was not acting like himself and supposedly walking into the middle of traffic. Clearly, his sister feared for his safety and felt that the police could protect and serve the community given the circumstances. However, if he had a shiny “gun-metal” colored double-to-triple battery mod, then this may have spooked the ever-so-antsy police force – antsy is  all throughout the United States, in this case, it was the greatly regulated state of anti-vape-centric California.

The same state populated with spin doctors and marketing wizards behind the magical spell and public health “Vape-hate” campaign “Still Blowing Smoke.” Then again, without SBS there would be no NBS “Not Blowing Smoke” – which has become largely significant in the Devaporization of America, an appropriate response by Californian and Vape Advocate Stefan Didak. (Editor’s note: You can watch an interview of Stefan Didak in the documentary film Beyond the Cloud)

Reflecting for the Long Term

Obviously, due to all the protests and demonstrations in correlation to social injustice, directly linked to the shootings police enforce on unarmed black men in America, this is not a news story anyone wants to hear at the moment. It’s nothing new, this continues to occur all across the U.S., the shootings of unarmed civilians is out of control

Things are bad enough with all the murdered civilians and the civil unrest that follows these events – along with the nightmare scenario FDA regulations have placed on Vapor Products, having these two issues involved in one single headline is disturbing to say the least. Each social issue alone is depressing to hear about. Are we supposed to feel that the police were rightly justified in taking a man’s life because they got scared of an “ENDS?”

That acronym is of course the FDA terminology used for identifying vaping devices. Nevertheless, the point here is that the real story is the uncontrollable, heavily armed, trigger-happy cops repeatedly shooting community residents. It’s not newsworthy that Mr. Alfred Olango had a vaping device, that is only for the media to sensationalize headlines as well as an excuse for the police to explain why another civilian laid slain in the streets on their watch, by their guns.

Vaping & tragedies: Does the media have a love affair with Vaper-Danger?

All the mainstream media published reports on this tragedy simply state, that Alfred was having an emotional breakdown after learning that his best friend had died. A sad story for all involved, especially the victim’s family. Even though Alfred had “run-ins” with the law prior to this tragic story where he was previously armed is besides the fact. This was a man experiencing turmoil and not only did his “emotional breakdown” make the headlines, but the concept of him holding a Vape device during the time when he was shot to death also was included in the main “headlines.”  In regards to this, the titles used in the headlines were misleading and more than half the time, readers simply skim over the headline and move onto some other story more uni table to fulfilling their reading needs.

The real story is that another black man was shot to death, another man who was unarmed had his life taken by a clearly unprepared police unit. They shot and killed a man who was merely holding only a device for vaping nicotine. Mr.Olango was unfortunately grieving the loss of a loved one in a way that seemed to be far too disruptive for the standards of American social life and so the the uniforms and badges misjudged yet another scenario.

Headlines or content? The Media Must Prioritize

Basically, local law enforcement were responding to a 9-1-1 emergency that was called in by a sibling. The police were well-aware that this man was “not acting like himself” as the media reported Olango’s sister explained on the 9-1-1 call. Is the only course of action for handling a distraught man, mourning the death of his best friend, simply just unloading caliber rounds into him? Surely there is another method they have been trained to utilize in such situations? But, he indeed was waving and pointing his vaporizer in the air, according to police reports. Does the local Cali-Cop handbook state in cases of an inaccurate Vaper, in all the cases, the Vaper will become disturbed – there will ultimately be unavoidable damage and danger to people or property surrounding the uncoordinated and now enraged Vaper, so it is most efficient to take action by way of gunshots. Therefore, the sole resolution is murder? No, it is highly doubtful that this is the case. They are responsibly trained to deal with high pressure scenarios, especially involving individuals expressing what may be considered strange or non-compliant behavior, so why are the results often ending in deliberate tragedy?

This is the real topic of the story. Asking more and more questions, logical inquiries about the larger social issues at play. How much longer are we going to keep hearing about unjustifiable shooting deaths of civilians by police? How much longer will it take before more officers of the law realize truly how shiny Vaping devices may literally seem to be, allowing their reactionary impulses to be expressed by gunfire? Are Vaping devices similar in appearance to dangerous weapons? There are far too many questions to dive into entirely, but that is the main point.

Unanswered questions from authorities creates uninformed civilians, producing widespread confusion, impatience, disappointment and fear. No man or woman, whether African Refugee or born and bred American citizen, deserves this outcome. If the day ever arrives where the media reports focus on content rather than eye-catching headlines, perhaps we’d have a well-informed opulence, thus more social stability.

The family remembers their loved one

The family told reporters that the victim, Mr. Olango was a kind and loving father who had moved back to California from Arizona. Alfred recently landed a part-time job at a furniture store, in which he was set on a path to turn his life around and determined to stay on the right track.

Is there Justification?

Did the police honestly think a vaping device was a firearm? Do vape devices look like guns? Or any kind of weapon? Perhaps this man was vaping to calm his nerves and went to point at something else and the police simply were over-zealous? Who knows? These questions could be better answered if we all knew which type of vaping device Mr. Olango actually had in his possession. If it was a cig-a-like, then there is no reason the police to be anxious that he had a weapon. Even if he had a vape pen – they are called vape-pens for a reason, they look like pens, the ink-writing kind, which can not be used to aim and shoot shrapnel.

  • Jim McDonald

    The type of device was reported at the police press conference, and in several of the newspaper stories after the shooting. It was easy to find with a short Google search.–abc-news-topstories.html

    • Tony


      Please see my comment above meant to be a reply to you.

      My email is

      Please feel free to contact me should you have any more helpful information or advice.

      Thank you

  • Tony

    Thanks for the information Jim. Much appreciated. I am most likely writing a follow up story on this as a few people have informed me of these developments. Unfortunately, I wrote this story a week ago. So, I think a follow up piece would be necessary. I really appreciate you taking the time to share this info. That article you provided certainly helped directly answer some of the questions I had about other possible training the police received for such incidents as well as the family confirming they called for help, not for direct violence. Then there is also the identification of which device he had, that clears up yet another question I inquired about. The type of device he had is crucial to learn of. Very helpful. But of course, and I understand why, the article didn’t address the broader social issues I was additionally explaining that we should reflect on. The family told the emergency dispatchers that he was mentally ill and while the police force teams with psychiatric professionals for these situations (though apparently that unit was responding to another situation in development), it was great to hear this program exists. Very proud their putting forth effort to handle such matters properly and professionally.

    While the victim obviously did point the Vape device at them like it could possibly be a threat, the concept of the media reporting that the police confirmed it was “a vape smoking device” still bothers me. As Vapers, we know that statement they used is an oxymoron (“Vaping smoking device”) since we are all in agreement that Vaping is not smoking and pairing the two things together further spreads misinformation that can cause additional speculation, preventing the general public from seeing truly how beneficial “Vaping Devices” can be. My primary issue with this incident is of course learning of yet another unarmed community resident being murdered (sure, he was non-compliant, but perhaps they could have use a non-lethal weapon).

    As a Sociologist, I’m concerned with how our social system is shaping how Vaping is viewed in this country – referring to the device as “a vape smoking device” continues to provide me reason to worry, the last thing the act of Vaping needs right now is to be further associated with smoking as well as being linked to one of the larger social justice movements we’ve seen in decades, especially since it is race-related and producing protests all across the U.S. Thus is an issue Vaping must be distanced from, but now the law enforcement community has a TFV8 Baby Tank as a piece of crucial evidence in a police shooting investigation. Do you think they’ll most likely over-analyze the shape of the TFV8 Baby, classifying it as a potential threat? I don’t know. How do u think they identified the device? They probably called some Vape-related business owner as their “expert vape device identifier” – this could be very dangerous and damaging to the Vape movement, which I hope is not the case.

    I apologize for the lengthy reply but this is an important issue we must discuss. I’ve read many of your articles and I’ve always been impressed with your style of writing. I respect your work, so I felt the need to explain my position about this in detail. In light of these developments there will surely be a follow up, so thank you for being a helpful fellow writer by informing me of the developments about the incident covered in this story. Extremely grateful for you providing this information. Much appreciated. Perhaps, in the future, we could further discuss some other Vape-related issues as I’m always eager to learn more and discuss these things with other fellow writers? Keep your eyes peeled for a Follow Up piece. Thanks again.