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Family of black man shot 14 times by police wants charges

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Robert Mann, right, the brother of Joseph Mann, who was killed by Sacramento Police in July, discusses the shooting of his brother during a news conference Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. Mann, accompanied by his sister, Deborah, center, and attorney John Burris are demanding that the officers involved in shooting of Joseph Mann, 50, be charged with murder and that the U.S. Department of Justice open a civil rights investigation of the Sacramento Police Department.

Sacramento, Calif. » The family of a man killed in july by Sacramento police after 911 callers reported he was waving a knife and acting erratically demanded that two officers face murder charges after dash-cam video revealed they talked inside their police cruiser about running him down.

Joseph Mann, who was mentally unstable and homeless, dodged the cruiser twice and was shot 14 times less than a minute later by the two officers.

The officers “behaved like big game hunters closing in on an animal,” said John Burris, a lawyer for the Mann’s family said Monday.

The demand for the murder charges came as Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck defended his officers in the fatal shootings of a black man Saturday who police say was armed with a loaded semi-automatic gun and a Hispanic man on Sunday who officers say was wielding replica handgun.

The latest police shootings happened amid heightened tensions over police actions involving black people and other minorities across the country, and followed two more fatal encounters between California police and black men last week in San Diego and Pasadena.

In the Sacramento case, police have said Mann was waving a knife in the air and doing karate moves in the streets just before police responded. But Burris told reporters he was not threatening anybody and that the two officers who shot him, John Tennis and Randy Lozoya, should face a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation in addition to murder charges.

The officers can be heard on the recording saying “I’m gonna hit him” and “OK, go for it” before appearing to drive their cruiser twice at Mann, who managed to scramble out of its way both times. The officers then stopped the cruiser, got out of it, pursued him on foot and opened fire.

“Mann was standing stationary on a sidewalk with no one in close proximity when the officers unloaded their guns,” Burris wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Sacramento police spokesman Matthew McPhail said police are “encouraged to assess each circumstance and think critically about the tools at their disposal.”

McPhail and other police spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request to interview Tennis and Lozoya. Sacramento Police Officers Association President Timothy Davis did not respond to telephone and email messages seeking comment on behalf of the two officers.

Sacramento City Attorney James Sanchez declined to comment on whether police were aware of what Tennis and Lozoya said in the car. McPhail did not respond to messages asking the same question.

The Sacramento District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the recordings and police reports, spokeswoman Shelly Orio said.

Tennis and Lozoya were put on a brief leave after the July 11 shooting and returned to work on desk duty instead of patrol the following week. An administrative review of their actions is underway.

“It doesn’t service anybody’s interest with the public or the city, even the officers themselves or the family of the deceased, to have any sort of determination to be made before the investigation is complete,” McPhail said.

Surveillance videos show Mann doing the karate moves, zigzagging as he walked around a down-and-out commercial neighborhood in north Sacramento where many businesses are shuttered.

On police 911 recordings, callers said a man was waving a knife in the air, had a gun in his waistband and appeared to be mentally ill. Police found a knife but no gun after Mann was killed.

Family members have described Mann as a college graduate who loved politics and economics, and succeeded in several careers before deteriorating into mental illness about five years ago. They said he had been living on the streets and struggled with drugs before his death.

Toxicology tests revealed Mann had methamphetamine in his system the day he died, police said.

The videos released showed a first police cruiser that arrived alongside Mann as he was walking down a street. Mann turned away from that vehicle when another cruiser with the two officers approached him, talking inside their cruiser about hitting Mann.

When Mann ran out of the car’s way, the officer driving the cruiser backed it up and turned to aim in Mann’s direction again. It accelerated toward Mann, who ran across a median. The cruiser stopped and the officers got out.

Mann is heard on audio from the video saying he did not have a gun.

About 15 seconds later, 18 shots were fired — 14 hit Mann.

It was extremely rare for audio to be captured describing what the officers were thinking as the events leading up to Mann’s shooting unfolded, said Kevin LaHue, a private attorney in Los Angeles who has worked on numerous federal civil rights cases involving police tactics.

“Having this sort of real-time insight into the thought process of the officers and their use of force, I think that is very unique,” LaHue said.

Mann’s death is the latest of at least five fatal police shootings in Sacramento over the past three years of people who did not comply with officers’ orders and had a weapon other than a firearm, said Francine Tournour, who oversees city public safety accountability.

“I’m seeing a pattern,” Tournour said.

Tournour said she plans to recommend that the department change its approach to de-escalating crisis situations, introduce scenario-based training and possibly add a staff position.

The chief of police answers to the city manager but maintains discretion over police training and policies.

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  • The question is: Should police wait until an erratic acting African American stabs someone with his knife before they are allowed to use their weapons?

      • Yep, on one attorney, going rate…..33%… starting. Bigger the take, bigger the profit. They start by trying their cases in the media, taint the jury pool. Then then the toss honest people out of the jury pool, lean towards color or like political philosophy. Works both in criminal and civil. The curve, get a black judge who is blind….like Baltimore.

  • Let me ask you this… if this man was the son of the Governor of Sacramento who was wielding the knife and behaving weird ….do you think the cops would have tried to hit him with their cars or fire 14 shots into him? Or, would they have tried other methods?

  • “Family of black man shot 14 times by police wants charges”>>> I don’t think they should be charged. Those bullets were already paid for by taxpayer dollars. :/

    This guy was walking around with Meth in his system. DOUBT it was the first time. DOUBT the family didn’t know about THAT. Maybe the family should be charged with neglectful CARE of their, KNOWN, mentally ill family member.

  • With all the fault findings and negative attitudes against our police officers who would want to become a police officer? It’s a twenty four hour job constantly being on alert to protect the public. Difficult for a decent, secure family life. Yet, many are good responsible officers whom are needed in our progressively drug-related criminal scenarios. We need them to be free from job related bureaucracies. They are after all in the front line of all criminal confrontation and split seconds decisions. Not all actions result with public approval, but that’s comes with one of the most controversial public servant job. However, we are in need of them and our total support!

        • So I take it you believe, like I do, that all reckless drivers that endanger me on the road deserve to either die or be crippled for life right? After all they’ve committed criminal acts too.

        • But that’s because you’ve shown yourself – over and over again – to be a violent sociopath who celebrates death. There are mercifully few people like you.

    • You act like a majority of Americans don’t support the police, which isn’t true, at least according to all the surveys I’ve read. Just look at the comments section here and on other websites such as Yahoo. It seems like the majority of posters actually SUPPORT the police, or at least give them the benefit of the doubt. Granted stories like this seems to come up more often but it’s just the nature of the 24/7 news media we have these days. These kinds of shootings were ALWAYS happening as long as there was law enforcement in this country. It’s just we often never heard of them. This isn’t about job related bureaucracy, this is about people’s lives. I don’t believe the police can police themselves so if it’s warranted, an independent investigation should be conducted.

  • let the police conduct the investigation and forward it to the prosecutor’s office to determine if prosecution is warranted. all police officers recognize that any actions taken will be reviewed and may be grounds for prosecution.

    • I went to a shooting in Palolo as a SWAT guy after patrol officers shot the guy 30+ times……had to protect the investigating detectives, IA, and the crime scene guys. The villagers were about to riot. I then asked one of the detectives, they actually shoot him 30 times….he laughed and said they hit him only 4 times…had a large cane knife and was threatening the resides. When he lunged at the first officer on scene, three other officers also unloaded. At the time, S&W 5906 carries 14 rounds times 4 officers…yep 30 rounds if they all fire at the same moment when they all see the same thing. Patrol officer are the worst shooters, shoot only once a year. That is why major mainland PDs had shot guns in cars….can’t miss with a shot gun. Then shotguns went away and were replaced with less-lethal junk….too expensive to maintain both, shotguns or less-lethal weapons. Lee-lethal won but don’t work all the time, especially people high on angel dust or meth.

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