More than 100 demonstrators shut down a freeway onramp and a downtown Sacramento intersection at the peak of the afternoon commute, protesting the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office decision to exonerate two police officers in the fatal shooting of Joseph Mann.
On Friday, the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office cleared the two officers, John Tennis and Randy Lozoya, of legal wrongdoing in the July 11 shooting of Mann. The 50-year-old black man was shot and killed by Tennis and Lozoya after 911 callers reported a man acting erratically and armed with a knife and gun. Mann was later found to have a knife with a 3.5-inch blade, but no gun was found.
Tennis twice attempted to hit Mann with his cruiser before the duo pursued him on foot and fired 18 shots at him in a span of under one minute. Activists and Mann’s family say the officers should have recognized that Mann was mentally ill, and that Tennis and Lozoya escalated the situation by aggressively pursuing him with their car and on foot.
The DA’s Office determined that Mann posed a danger to the officers and residents, giving Tennis and Lozoya justification to use lethal force.
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The Sacramento City Council this week agreed during a closed-door session to pay Mann’s family $719,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit, according to a source with knowledge of the settlement.
The local chapter of Black Lives Matter protest Wednesday began at City Hall around 4:30 p.m. and then ventured down I Street, shutting down the major artery used by downtown commuters to leave Sacramento via Interstate 5. Police officers blocked the onramps to prevent protesters from advancing onto the freeway.
At 5:25 p.m., protesters moved south on Fifth Street and shut down another major intersection at Fifth and J streets near Golden 1 Center. I Street reopened shortly after, but by then a portion of J Street was closed. Later they blocked 11th Street before eventually returning to City Hall shortly before 7 p.m.
Protesters chanted, “No Sac PD!” and “DA Schubert, we don’t want you!” Meanwhile, horns blared from cars backed up on I Street.
Robert Mann, Joseph’s brother, called District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert’s decision “a travesty” and said she should resign. He stood amid the crowd of protesters Wednesday.
“If you look around, none of us feel like we are being protected and served,” he said.
The District Attorney’s Office did not respond late Wednesday to a request for comment.
Aaron Anderson was trapped in his car near the front line of the protesters on I Street. Anderson, who works for the Sacramento County Department of Revenue Recovery, said he couldn’t make it to a hospital where he was going because the protest delayed him too long.
Anderson, who is black, said he understood the “plight” of the protesters but thought they were “going about it the wrong way.”
The Bee’s Cathy Locke contributed to this report.