Civil Rights Attorney John Burris held another press conference on Thursday in Sacramento, and, while the Vanguard was unable to attend, the Vanguard did receive information on court documents indicating that one of the Sacramento police officers was grappling with a long-term alcohol addiction, in addition to multiple, well-documented personal problems, which raise concerns about his fitness for duty at the time of the shooting.
Officer John Tennis, a long-time police officer with the Sacramento Police Department, was one of two Sacramento police officers who, on July 11, 2016, fatally shot Joseph Mann.
Mr. Burris in a statement said, “I am outraged to learn that the City of Sacramento permitted this officer to carry a gun, after he engaged in a series of troubling behaviors, unbefitting a police officer.”
Court documents reveal that the City of Sacramento was on notice in 2012 that Officer Tennis was barred by law from carrying a gun, when his wife was granted a restraining order, due to her claims that Officer Tennis abused her and their children. The City of Sacramento backed up Defendant Officer Tennis, by submitting a letter to the court, notifying them that Defendant Tennis would need to be granted an exception to the law, in order to keep carrying a gun.
The court record also indicates that, in 2014, Defendant Officer Tennis was the subject of an internal affairs investigation due to his alcohol addiction and dereliction of duties. The record also shows that, in 2014, Defendant Officer Tennis admitted to being a long-term alcoholic, and described how his addiction interfered with his duties.
“It is no wonder that the City waited so long to release the officers’ names, considering their knowledge of his unfitness for duty,” Mr. Burris stated.
A June 4, 2012, letter from Sam Somers, Deputy Chief from the Office of Operations, to El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Melikian stated, “On May 23, 2012, a temporary restraining order (Case FL2012-0419) was granted, identifying Sacramento Police Officer John C. Tennis as the restrained party. Pursuant to the temporary order, Officer Tennis cannot possess a firearm or ammunition. The ability to possess a firearm is a condition of continued employment for a sworn Police Officer with the Sacramento Police Department. The Sacramento Police Department is unable to re-assign Officer Tennis to another position where a firearm is unnecessary.”
The restraining order describes a 2012 incident in which Mr. Tennis was having a verbal dispute with his wife in front of their children. She described that “he was speaking ill of me to and around the girls using a great deal of profanity.” At this point she went upstairs and he “threw a full baby bottle narrowly missing (their daughter).”
His wife in 2012 alleged that his response was, “I don’t care.”
She detailed “verbal and emotional abuse” that had occurred against the children “through name calling and extensive use of profanity.” She claimed he was “investigated twice by CPS for physical abuse” against two of their sons. In one case, he grabbed the boy “by his neck and pushed him to the ground.” “Once on the ground, John began yelling and cussing” at the child. He left a red mark on the side of his neck.
Officer Tennis was suspended for 40 hours in June of 2014 for alcohol abuse and ordered to read several books, acknowledge “this conduct was a violation of City policy and Police Department General Orders,” and meet with a Drug and Alcohol Officer at the SFPD Behavioral Sciences Unit.
In addition to the amended lawsuit, the Law Offices of John L. Burris has filed an administrative claim against the City of Sacramento for violations of the state constitution and common law by City of Sacramento Police Officers John Tennis and Randy Lozoya when they shot and killed Joseph Mann on July 11, 2016, while he was displaying obvious signs of mental illness.
Last week the Vanguard posted a video taken by a bystander at the scene. Attorneys are requesting that the Sac PD release their video of the shooting.
“We are confident that the vantage point of the surveillance footage will provide evidence that will debunk the Sacramento Police Department’s false claims justifying the shooting, proving that Joseph Mann was standing stationary and not reaching for his waistband when officers closed in on him and opened fire,” said Mr. Burris.
To date, the City of Sacramento Police Department has not responded to the Mann family’s multiple requests to view the surveillance video. John Burris calls the City’s refusal to respond to the Mann family’s demand to view the video surveillance footage of the shooting seized by Sacramento Police Department, “Outrageous and insulting to a family desperate for answers.”
Mr. Burris further states, “We encourage the Sacramento media to pressure the police to release this critical evidence.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting