The family of a mentally ill man shot by police in North Sacramento in July said on Thursday that any resolution of their civil suit against the city of Sacramento must include police reform.
“Accountability is what it is all about,” said Robert Mann, brother of Joseph Mann, who was shot 14 times by two Sacramento police officers during a brief encounter on Del Paso Boulevard on July 11. “I’m hoping that the lawsuit does bring some kind of positive change in how we police our communities.”
John Burris, attorney for the Mann family, said he would pursue reforms in how police interact with the mentally ill, disciplinary policies and use-of-force issues. Burris said he has successfully included reform measures in previous lawsuits, including against police in Oakland and San Francisco.
“Cases have the opportunity to bring about change and reform,” he said. “We are trying to save future lives … to prevent stuff from happening to the next group of people.”
Burris said he would ask experts to review the department’s policies and make recommendations for best practices as part of his work on the lawsuit.
The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office is also reviewing the shooting. A review of Sacramento Bee archives for the past 20 years found no cases where a Sacramento police officer was charged with an on-duty shooting death.
The City Council and community leaders in recent weeks have moved forward with reforms of the department that include a proposal to enact a policy that would require police to exhaust nonlethal alternatives before resorting to deadly force.
That measure, introduced by Councilman Larry Carr, will be debated by the council on Oct. 13. The Community Police Commission will also meet Monday to discuss recommendations for increasing diversity on the force.
Robert Mann said his family decided to file the lawsuit because members believed that they were being denied access to information on the case. The family has also requested a federal civil rights investigation from the Department of Justice that could include a review of the department.
“My lawsuit is really on the basis of trying to get information on what happened,” he said. “It was never about the money. It was always about justice … It’s just disheartening, and so the only measure we have as a family is to go after them.”
The District Attorney’s Office said in a statement released Wednesday that it attempts to complete investigations of shootings by officers within 90 days. Mann was killed 96 days ago.
“We must balance our desire to complete these investigation reviews in a timely manner with the overarching need to ensure any conclusions we reach are the result of a thorough and methodical evaluation of the facts and the law,” the statement said.
The Mann incident began when police responded to a call about a man acting erratically and armed with a gun and knife. Mann told officers he did not have a gun, and no gun was found at the scene.
The officers who initially responded attempted to de-escalate the situation and followed Mann for about four minutes as he walked away from them and ignored commands to drop the knife. He also threw an object at one police car and yelled at officers.
Violence erupted seconds after the arrival of another pair of officers, John Tennis and Randy Lozoya. During a hectic final minute, the two officers attempted to run Mann down with their vehicle before pursuing him on foot and shooting him.
The incident was caught on surveillance tape, which The Bee obtained in September. Immediately following the release of that footage, police released dash-camera and other footage that showed the attempted use of the car to run Mann down, including audio.
One of the officers says “f--- this guy” as the car approaches. Moments later, the driver says, “I’m going to hit him.”
“OK. Go for it. Go for it,” his partner responds.
Burris said he would also ask for review of policies regarding using a car as a deadly weapon.
The Bee’s Phillip Reese contributed to this report.