Joseph Mann was not an imminent threat to anyone when two officers put more than a dozen bullets into the 50-year-old black man, according to four videos that the Sacramento Police Department released last week after much prodding from the public and elected officials.
The “unprecedented” release of video and audio evidence, in the words of outgoing police Chief Sam Somers Jr., brings an assortment of new details to the July 11 fatal encounter, none more troubling than the revelation that veteran officers John C. Tennis and Randy R. Lozoya apparently tried to hit Mann with their patrol car twice before they put 14 bullets into a man whose family says he was experiencing a mental health crisis and needed help.
“He wasn’t charging. He wasn’t lunging,” said civil rights attorney John C. Burris, whose office is representing Mann’s relatives in a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city. “They had plenty of time.”
Police responded that morning to a “weapons call” involving a man behaving erratically in front of an apartment complex on Lochbrae Road, in north Sacramento. Two 911 callers reported seeing a knife in the subject’s hand, while one of the callers claimed to see a gun in the man’s waistband. Police never found a gun, and Burris contends that responding officers were quickly able to determine Mann wasn’t in possession of one.
In the footage, officers only refer to a knife, commanding Mann to drop it and get on the ground. Indeed, the dashcam footage from three different patrol vehicles tells a story of two different police responses. Initial arriving officers display caution and restrain in approaching Mann, even when he drops into a fighting stance or throws a projectile at one of the patrol vehicles.
But Tennis and Lozoya seem geared for a confrontation that would end with Mann dead.
VIDEO 1: Initial officers respond to the scene.
- 0:07 mark: One of arriving officers asks bystanders twice if they saw a gun. Difficult to make out the response (it sounds like they point him out first, then say no, but again, it’s pretty hard to say that with any certainty).
- 0:45 mark: Mann says he doesn’t have a gun, shows his hands.
- 1:10 mark: Officer updates dispatch, says Mann has a knife in his right hand. No mention of gun.
- 2:11 mark: After taking brief fighting stance, Mann appears to pick something up from the street. Is it the bottle police say he later throws at this vehicle?
- 2:30 mark: Officer gets on loud speaker: “Sir with the black backpack, stop, put your hands in the air and drop the knife.” Repeats it two more times. No mention of gun. Says again, “Sir, we don’t want to hurt you, drop the knife.”
- 3:26 mark: Mann pauses in middle of Del Paso Boulevard and hunches into what police say is a fighting stance. Officers again order him to surrender and “drop the knife.”
- 4:01 mark: Mann runs toward a patrol SUV arriving from the opposite direction, passes it on its passenger side and continues walking. You can see the patrol sedan occupied by Tennis and Lozoya behind the patrol SUV accelerate toward Mann before exiting the frame. Dashcam 3 has their POV on this part of it.
- 4:25 mark: Mann runs by a bystander standing near the media, crossing the street in front of this patrol vehicle. Officer in passenger seat says, “You’re gonna hit him, you’re gonna hit him.” Driving officer says, “I’m not gonna do that, I’m not gonna do that, I’m not gonna force it.”
- 4:38 mark: Tennis and Lozoya enter the frame, arms stretching out.
- 4:43 mark: Shots start. Moaning follows. Officer in car says: “Shots fired, subject down, Code 3 fire.”
- 4:59 mark: “Roll him over, get him handcuffed.”
- Note their overall approach to the situation. Though they may have been stressed out and frustrated by Mann, they never lost their cool.
VIDEO 2: This is from the vantage point of the patrol SUV that Mann runs toward.
- 0:15 mark: Mann runs toward vehicle, pulling right arm back almost as if he’s preparing to punch or throw something, then passes on passenger side. Scary moment, difficult to know how officer reacted. But the vehicle waits for Mann to pass, then backs up slowly and turns around.
- 0:30 mark: Patrol sedan occupied by Tennis and Lozoya enters frame, reversing quickly, passenger door open, then accelerating forward. (In Dashcam 3 video, you’ll hear Tennis warn “Randy”before putting car in reverse, giving you a good idea of who’s seated where.)
- 0:42 mark: Patrol sedan occupied by Tennis and Lozoya parks, doors open, officers exit.
- 0:50 mark: Tennis and Lozoya reenter frame on foot, aim their sidearms and open fire at the 0:57 mark.
VIDEO 3: Tennis and Lozoya respond to the scene.
- 0:00 mark: Car moving quickly.
- 0:05 mark: Having just seen Mann run toward the patrol SUV, officer says, “Fuck, fuck this guy.”
- 0:11 mark: Driver: “I’m gonna hit him.” Passenger: “OK, go for it, go for it.”
- 0:15 mark: Driver: “Watch out Randy.” Passenger: “Go ahead, go ahead.” We’ve now established who’s sitting where.
- 0:22 second mark: Car races toward Mann a second time.
- 0:24 mark: First good look at stopped light-rail train. On the first car is Mary Walsh Allmond, who spoke to SN&R about what she saw.
- 0:26 mark: One of the officers says, “We’ll get him, we’ll get him.”
- 0:37 mark: First one officer, then the other, enter frame on foot.
- 0:43 mark: Shots fired.
- Note how differently they approached the scene compared to the officers above, especially from the first dashcam.
VIDEO 4: Surveillance video of the shooting—but no audio—taken from Stoney’s Inn.
- 0:14 mark: Mann gestures at officers.
- 0:15 mark: Mann gestures second time.
- 0:16 mark: Mann gestures third time, immediately lurches over as Tennis and Lozoya fire their guns.
- 0:26 mark: Officers descend on the fallen body.