The city of Sacramento will attempt to settle a civil lawsuit over the fatal police shooting of Joseph Mann through confidential mediation and wants the court to seal evidence released in the case, according to court documents filed this week.
Mann was shot 14 times in July by two Sacramento police officers, John Tennis and Randy Lozoya, after they attempted to hit Mann with their cruiser in North Sacramento. Officers responded to Mann after witnesses said he was acting erratically and carrying a knife.
The Mann family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in October charging that Tennis and Lozoya failed to properly de-escalate the situation before resorting to lethal force.
On Monday, an outside lawyer hired by the city asked the court to block the public release of information given to the Mann family’s lawyers. Court documents said that “hopefully within the next 3-6 months,” the city and the Mann family would “enter into confidential outside mediation,” but that any information shared as part of the negotiations would need to stay private to “maintain the integrity” of other investigations.
The Mann incident is under investigation by the Sacramento County district attorney’s office and an internal administrative review by police. The Mann family also has requested a U.S. Department of Justice review, and the city has hired an outside investigator to examine the Mann shooting and another police shooting that occurred in April.
Melissa Nold, a lawyer for the Mann family, said her firm agreed to the confidentiality requirement because of the ongoing investigations, but she viewed them as “temporary measures” to move the litigation forward.
Sacramento City Attorney James Sanchez declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.
Nold said the Mann family will seek damages in an amount “high enough to make change” and that some of the information her office is seeking is about police practices and procedures the family would like to see reviewed.
“For the family, it’s not about the number. It’s about making sure it doesn’t happen again,” Nold said. “That’s what the family ultimately wants: policy change.”
A lawyer for Tennis and Lozoya, Judith Odbert, last month issued a statement saying that Mann threatened the officers and that they acted to ensure the safety of the community.
The Mann incident has sparked a broad call for police reform in Sacramento, including new guidelines on the use of force and a greater emphasis on nonlethal interventions. The City Council is considering imposing new transparency measures on the department, including the release of video in police shootings and in-custody deaths. The city will hold public forums in coming weeks to gather community input on those proposals.
The Mann case goes to court on Dec. 19 for a scheduling conference.