Justice Watch: Burris Calls for Federal Investigation of Mann Shooting, As Family Calls for Murder Charges


Police Blue

A press conference was called on Monday to demand that Sacramento County prosecutor Anna Marie Schubert charge Sacramento Police Officers John Tennis and Randy Lozoya with the premeditated murder of Joseph Mann on July 11, 2016. Renowned Civil Rights Attorney John Burris will also demand that the Department of Justice investigate and also charge Officers Tennis and Lozoya with Federal Civil Rights violations in the premeditated murder of Joseph Mann.

In a release, Mr. Burris stated, “The Justice Department must immediately open an independent investigation into the Sacramento Police Department’s deliberate indifference to the continued employment of these officers, who had a long history of both department sanctioned alcohol abuse, prior violent and deadly encounters with black citizens, as well as the sanctioning of using a police car as a deadly weapon, where there was no threat to loss of life, as well as the mistreatment of the mentally ill.”

Mr. Burris is calling for the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the practices of the Sacramento Police Department, “much like they have done in Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore, Newark and 20 others cities including Salinas and San Francisco where there has been consistent discriminatory mistreatment of African American and Latinos,” said Burris.

Recently-released dash cam video shows both officers plotting to and subsequently trying to run Joseph Mann over with a patrol car, prior to leaving their patrol car to riddle him with bullets.

John Burris laments, “This killing is even more egregious than first thought, as we now can see and hear the officers behaved like big game hunters closing in on an animal.’ Burris further decries, ‘The audio tapes evidence the officers comply or die mentality, as they plotted to kill Mr. Mann even prior to leaving their patrol cars, and once their prize was in sight they fired 18 shots, from approximately 27 feet away, despite being in no imminent danger.”

He went on to say, “The lack of non-lethal force enlisted demonstrates that there was no desire to take him alive.”

The release concludes: “After watching and listening to these videos, these officers should be terminated immediately, not placed on modified duty. We are demanding federal investigation for the state sanctioned murder of a defenseless human being.”

Video of Family Statement:

Letter from John Burris Requesting DOJ Investigation and Prosecution of Sac PD Officers

Re: Request for Department of Justice to both Investigate and Prosecute Sacramento Police Officers for Civil Rights Violations

Dear Honorable Gentlewoman and Gentlemen,

I am the attorney for the family of Joseph Mann. This letter serves as a formal request for the Department of Justice to investigate and/or prosecute City of Sacramento Police Officers John Tennis and Randy Lozoya, for violating the civil rights of Mr. Joseph Mann, pursuant to 18.U.S.C. section 252, by engaging in an unwarranted and pre-meditated execution.

First, in support of a criminal prosecution, there are audio tapes, videotapes and witnesses to this egregious incident concerning Joseph Mann.  Factually, on July 11, 2016, multiple Sacramento Police Officers, including the above listed Sacramento Police Officers were dispatched to a call reporting a man acting erratically and armed with a gun. When the officers arrived they found Joseph Mann, a diminutive man, standing only 5’2 and scarcely 100 pounds. Mr. Mann was showing overt signs of mental illness, as he attempted to do karate chops. Mr. Mann clearly did not have a gun in his hands, which can be seen during the various video recordings of the incident. In fact, Mr. Mann can be heard telling the officers that he did not have a gun. Nevertheless, multiple officers stalked Mr. Mann down the street in their patrol cars, barking out commands, as he continued to wander down the street, continuing to display signs of mental illness.

During the incident, Officers Lozoya can be heard on the audio recording from his car saying “F–, f– this guy,” while their patrol car is rushing towards Mr. Mann. Officer Tennis is heard saying, “I’m going to hit him.” Officer Lozoya replies, “Ok, go for it, go for it,” immediately before the Officer attempts to run over Mr. Mann. Mr. Mann escaped being hit by changing directions and running across the street to prevent being crushed by the car. The patrol cars comes to a stop and one of the officers is heard saying, “We’ll get him, we’ll get him,” before exiting the car. Video surveillance of this incident clearly shows how Officers Tennis and Lozoya abandon their training and common sense and engage in a pre-meditated murder, by immediately running toward Mr. Mann and opening fire on him from 27 feet away without having made any attempt to deescalate the situation or use non-lethal force. In fact, Mr. Mann was standing stationary on a sidewalk with no one in close proximity when the Officers unloaded their guns striking him over a dozen times.

In the days following the killing, the City of Sacramento Police Department falsely claimed Mr. Mann charged the Officers with a knife. Multiple surveillance videos of the incident clearly show Mr. Mann standing stationary when the Officers ran up and started shooting at him from 27 feet away.

After intense public pressure, the City finally released the audio and video surveillance, demonstrating that Mr. Mann was not coming towards the officers, nor was he within any arguable distance to reasonably pose an immediate threat.

Moreover, at least one of the shooters, Officer John Tennis, has a long history of disturbing behavior while employed for Sacramento Police Department, going as far back at 1997, when he killed a man with his bare hands. As time progressed, Officer Tennis became an alcoholic and derelict in his duties, before finally being suspended and sent to rehab. This incident occurred after Officer Tennis was accused of abusing his family, which resulted in him losing his ability to carry a gun. We are very concerned that the Officers involved will continue to patrol the streets of Sacramento, despite at least one of them having a documented history of excessive force violations and anger management problems, prior to gunning down Mr. Mann. It would be a miscarriage of justice and an insult to Mr. Mann’s family, as well as the rest of world, if this public execution goes unchecked. In our view, the Officers should be criminally prosecuted for violating Mr. Mann’s civil rights by engaging in this pre-meditated execution.

Finally, the death of Mr. Mann is a tragic and unnecessary loss. We cannot bring him back, but we can hope to ensure that all people of goodwill can have confidence that there is a place to seek justice when one aspect of the criminal justice system fails to appropriately acknowledge a horrendous wrong. The citizens of Sacramento have long lived in fear of the Sacramento Police Department. That fear has only been intensified now that we have all witnessed Officers gun down a feeble man in broad daylight. In light of the foregoing, it is imperative that the Department of Justice address this incident and prosecute the involved Officers for the wrongs they committed against Joseph Mann.

Scathing Editorial in the Bee

A Monday editorial in the Sacramento Bee asks, “What else doesn’t Sacramento know about the police?”

The Sacramento Bee editorial asks the important questions after the release of what they call “horrifying dash-cam footage.”

The Bee asks “why Officers John Tennis and Randy Lozoya thought we’d condone running down a mentally ill man with a squad car. Or why 14 shots were required to stop someone holding a knife 27 feet away.”

They add, “What was Tennis still doing on the job at all? In the months since he and Lozoya killed Mann – midway through an effort by other officers on the scene to de-escalate the situation – one abuse after another has surfaced from the depths of his personnel file.”

They note the officer’s 1997 chokehold of a 35-year-old suspected car thief and a settlement paid by the city “in 2000 after Tennis stopped a man for questioning in an area known for drug sales and the man came away bruised and beaten.”

As the Vanguard previously noted, “There was the temporary restraining order in 2012, based on a domestic violence and child abuse complaint from Tennis’ ex-wife, forbidding him from carrying a firearm or ammunition. After he was stripped of his right to carry a gun, why did Sacramento police Chief Sam Somers Jr., then a deputy chief, ask a judge to restore it? Why did the judge, a former prosecutor, think the public would be safer if he relented?”

Then there’s Mr. Tennis’ admission of “long-term abuse of alcohol” and a stint in rehab.

Writes the Bee, “So many questions, in this progressive city that, in its more fortunate quarters, has long flattered itself with the belief that killings like that of Joseph Mann were the fruit of departmental cultures in other places – that such things might happen on, say, the turf of the sheriff’s cowboy department, but not in the City of Trees.

“Tennis and Lozoya weren’t rookies. And what we know so far indicates a systemic tolerance for transgressions. After all, people who expect to be punished don’t announce, ‘F— this guy’ and then try to run him over – on tape.

“’I’m going to hit him,’ one officer says, knowing he is being recorded. ‘Go for it,’ the other replies, knowing the dash cam is running. Then they gun the engine, and when that fails to kill Mann, they leap out and mow him down in a hail of bullets. Lethal force seems the first and only impulse. What else don’t we know when the officers don’t even appear to question it?”

Another question we might ask is how many of these kinds of cases do we have where there is no fatality – and therefore no John Burris standing there to ask the tough questions?  And the Bee wants answers, but is the Bee also culpable in this because they have been nowhere to be seen asking the questions?

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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18 thoughts on “Justice Watch: Burris Calls for Federal Investigation of Mann Shooting, As Family Calls for Murder Charges”

    1. Biddlin

      You see, their level of fear is just that high. Sam and others who will no doubt post, can watch a clear video of the act and if the victim had been 50 feet away, instead of just 27, they would say, “but he could have thrown that knife….”

        1. Don Shor

          BP: I don’t think Delia was saying that Sam has that reaction. I thought she was answering the question more generally. She can correct me if I’m wrong.

        2. Sam

          If that is what he was saying then I disagree. I am not nor do I believe that police officers are “afraid of black people”. Also, there is clear video of them trying to run him over with the car. I have not seen a clear video of the shooting.

    2. Frankly

      It is not murder unless he is tried in court and convicted.  Hard for me to believe that you ever worked in criminal law with comments like this.

      I would say that based on the video a case against this cop is warranted.

      I would also point out that you are a frequent defender of public sector unions.  There is no doubt in my mind that their existence in the business of law enforcement contribute greatly to the population of bad employees of law enforcement.

      In other words, protection of the rights of police to unionize has a counter effect of making the public less protected from the risk of a bad cops.

      1. Davis Progressive

        sorry my phone seems to cut off part of my first sentence which was that the officers who killed mann should be charged with murder.  in a lot of cases, the appropriate charge is either second degree murder or manslaughter, but given the chase, this may end up being first degree.

        you like to blame unions for this – they are part of the problem here, but police culture itself is a bigger problem.  unions simply reflect that culture.

        1. South of Davis

          DP wrote:

          > unions simply reflect that culture.

          The unions also stop anyone from trying to “change the culture” by getting rid of the bad apples.  read a great article a while back about how Pete Carroll came to Seattle and just had to get rid of a few guys to “change the culture” of the team.

          If the NFL union was as strong as the police union pro football would be a lot different (and players would hurt a lot more people if they knew their union would protect them and they would almost never be punished for taking a cheap shot at people that made them mad).

  1. Sam

    I don’t agree that shooting was clearly murder because of a video showing the officers trying to run him over with their police car. I do think they clearly need to investigate why that decision was made at the time and I seriously doubt that there is any justifiable reason. The shooting may end up being considered murder or maybe it was justified, they still need to do an investigation to determine if it was or not.

      1. Sam

        …the cops would have shot you, yes. I think that attempted murder or assault with a deadly weapon would be appropriate charges for trying to run the guy over.

  2. Frankly


    Police departments and policymakers around the country are grappling with how to bolster training for cops on mental health issues in the midst of a string of high-profile fatal incidents involving suspects believed to be in the throes of mental breakdowns.

    The current debate on policing in America has largely focused on whether inherent racial bias has led to police disproportionately using deadly force against African-Americans.

    But long simmering on the back burner is the struggle for police departments to deal with the eye-popping number of deadly incidents that involve people with mental health issues, law enforcement and mental health experts says. A study by the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center published last year found that people with mental illness are 16 times more likely than others to be killed by police, while the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates 15% of men and 30% women annually booked at U.S. jails have mental health problems.

    “What departments are going through right now is nothing short of a cultural revolution,” said Peter Scharf, a criminologist at the LSU School of Public Health and Justice. “Jails have become the alms house of this generation and police have become the first responders to the mentally ill.”

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