Sacramento City Councilman Larry Carr remembers the weeks that followed the fatal shooting of Joseph Mann by two Sacramento Police Department officers last July.
Mann was holding a knife and running from police as they followed him through the Del Paso Heights neighborhood. He had mental health issues, his family would later tell authorities. Initially, officers Randy Lozoya and John Tennis attempted to run Mann over with a patrol car, video released by the department shows. Moments later, the two officers climbed out of their vehicle and fired multiple rounds into Mann’s body.
“This chamber for weeks at a time was full of people screaming at us, irate about that incident,” Carr said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “When you broke through the voices … they were saying basically three things: They were asking for accountability, they were asking for transparency and they were asking for a civilian oversight commission that was revamped.”
In November 2016, the City Council approved a package of police reforms to address the issues brought by community members. Last week, the City Council reviewed the Sacramento Police Department’s progress, zeroing in on a policy that outlined when officers could and could not use force against a suspect, deadly or otherwise.
Overall, the presentation signaled the department was taking the steps to comply with the City Council’s wishes, despite some delays. The department has nearly completed training and issuing of less lethal weapons to all officers, one of the other mandates included in the policy. In every case involving a fatal shooting or death in custody this year, police have publicly released video footage of the event as required by the City Council.
Chief Daniel Hahn led Tuesday’s presentation. During the meeting, he said last year’s police reforms have been largely well-received among the department’s rank-and-file officers. He noted that officers, as well as community members, can now see what happens during a critical incident, thanks to the video release policy.
“If you look back two years ago, not only did we not have body cameras on every officer, which we do now, but we never released any video on anything,” he said. “Now we’re to the point where we’re releasing video just about every other week on just about everything.”
Hahn said the department is still working on equipping all officers with less lethal weapons, a process that faced setbacks after delays in receiving equipment for the less lethal shotguns. Other less lethal weapons will include foam launchers, PepperBall launchers and ballistic shields, Hahn said during the meeting. About 160 officers have been trained in the less lethal options.
Additionally, 534 of the department’s officers have completed a Crisis Intervention course, which trains police on how to de-escalate encounters with the public, including people who are mentally ill. The 40-hour course is in addition to the four hours of mental health training required by the state.
There were five incidents in which officers used deadly force against a person while on the job, and one incident that resulted in the death in custody, Hahn reported to the council. In the last case, the man, identified by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office as Erik Mencarini, 37, temporarily stopped breathing while being placed under arrest and died days later in the hospital as a result of the incident.
Before his arrest, Mencarini was forcefully detained by community members for alleged burglary and vandalism, police say.
In all but one case, video footage of the incidents were shared with the public within 30 days of the event, per the city’s policy.
Councilman Jeff Harris said the officers he spoke to before the implementation of body cameras were resistant of the recording tool, though many now see them as an “insurance policy” after critical incidents.
“It takes a while to adapt to the change,” Harris said. “Overall, I think my perception is that this policy direction has been beneficial to the city and ultimately I think to (the Sacramento Police Department) as well.”
Hahn will return to the City Council at the start of next year after all officers have completed crisis intervention training.