SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) — The family of a mentally ill man who was fatally shot by Sacramento police officers after they tried to run him down in their cruiser is demanding a federal investigation into his death.
Joseph Mann’s family also seeks murder charges for the two police officers involved in his shooting on July 11. Their attorney requested that the Department of Justice prosecute the officers for federal criminal civil rights violations and investigate the Sacramento Police Department.
Mann had mental health and drug problems, his family said. On the day of his death, Mann could be seen on the police videos acting bizarrely and making strange gestures as he walked in the street.
“You can clearly see my brother had issues,” said Robert Mann during a press conference on Monday. “His issues shouldn’t have warranted his death that day by two rogue officers who decided to play judge and jury on their own… What they did was clear murder.”
The Sacramento Police Department released a statement that it extended their “condolences to those impacted by the shooting and believe that any loss of life is a tragedy.”
“If deemed necessary, the department welcomes a review of the case by any state or federal law enforcement authority.”
Mann’s case brings more controversy over the use of deadly force and also more questions over how law enforcement should respond to individuals with mental health problems.
What one dashcam video shows
Last month, Sacramento police released three dashcam videos of Mann’s shooting as seen from different vehicles.
On the morning of July 20, police responded after two 911 callers reported seeing a man whom they described as armed with a gun and knife, according to the recordings released by police.
Mann did not have a gun, but held a knife.
One of the dashcam videos showed two officers in a cruiser arriving at the scene after several of their colleagues. In it, one of the officers in the car could be heard saying, “F— this guy” as they drove to the scene with sirens blaring.
Once they arrived and saw Mann, one of the officers said: “I’m going to hit him.”
“OK. Go for it. Go for it,” his partner replied.
The video showed the police car quickly turning, in what appeared to be an attempt to hit Mann. Mann darted past the car and avoided being struck.
The police car turned and attempted to strike Mann again.
“Watch it!” one of the officers yelled, as Mann ran across the street and onto the median.
“We’ll get him.” The pair of officers were seen getting out of the car and pursuing Mann on foot with their weapons drawn. Then a barrage of shots can be heard.
Mann was shot 14 times, said Sacramento police chief, Sam Somers, Jr., as quoted by CNN affiliate KCRA in September. A lawsuit filed by John Burris, the attorney representing Mann’s family, states that Mann was shot 16 times.
“[The two police officers] didn’t try to figure out what was going on,” he said in a press conference Monday, flanked by members of Mann’s family. “All they did was run up on him and start shooting, and shot him execution-style.”
The officers’ lives were not in danger when they resorted to deadly force, Burris said.
“You don’t get to shoot somebody when they don’t drop their knife and you’re 27 feet away. Because 27 feet means he’s a distance away.”
Who were the officers?
The two police officers have been identified as Officers John Tennis and Randy Lozoya in a lawsuit filed by Burris.
Both officers have at least 10 years of employment with the department. They are currently still employed and are on modified duty with the police department, Sacramento City Attorney James Sanchez told CNN.
The shooting prompted both an internal civil and criminal investigations at the police department. Somers said in September that a 1,200-page report on the shooting had been finished and turned over to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
The district attorney’s office is reviewing the case and will decide on criminal charges. The decision will take up to 90 days, said Sanchez.
Burris said he had sought state and federal authorities attention to Mann’s case, because he was concerned local prosecutors would not bring charges against the officers.
How other police officers reacted
The first police officers to confront Mann after receiving the 911 call had a different approach than the officers involved in the shooting.
As seen on their police dashcam video, they stayed inside the car and maintained a distance from Mann. They followed him from a residential block to a bigger street, shouting commands.
In a review of the video handed out by police, CNN counted that the police yelled “Get on the ground” at least 16 times.
As more police arrived, Mann hurled an item at one of the cruisers, as he continued to walk in the street.
They yelled, “Drop the knife” or “Put the knife down” at least 10 times. “Get your hands up, get your hands in the air,” was yelled at least five times and “We don’t want to hurt you,” once.
The officers who initially responded to the call, tried to contain the situation, Burris said.
“I have no fault with the earlier officers,” he said. “I thought they acted appropriately, trying to figure out and they slowly watched. They slowly moved.”
“But what happens is it gets escalated by these two others officers, who are then going to try to use their car and try to hit him … Then they gave chase, [Mann] stopped and they shot him. That’s the problem.”