A dash cam, that showed officers in pursuit of Joseph Mann attempt to hit the African American with their vehicle, apparently was not enough to convince prosecutors to charge the two officers, John Tennis and Randy Lozoya, with murder.
The video shows one of the two officers who end up shooting Mann saying, “I’m going to hit him.” His partner says, “Ok, go for it.” After that, the two officers, John Tennis and Randy Lozoya, exit their vehicle, engage in a brief foot pursuit and then open fire.
However, the Sacramento DA’s office ruled that the two Sacramento police officers acted lawfully.
One Monday, the family spoke out in reaction to the DA’s office clearing the police of crime in Mr. Mann’s shooting death. “We would like to say that those two officers that have been on this case should not be allowed to be police officers in any community, because it has been proven that their judgment is not sound,” said Cassandra Jennings of the Sacramento Urban League.
Pastor Robin Hood, representing the Sacramento Faith-based community, expressed “disappointment in the decision by the District Attorney to not to charge the officers.” He said, “We pray that the DA will reconsider.”
“We would like transparency and accountability,” he said.
Another representative who spoke at the press conference indicated that he went over the case to see what he had missed, but, after watching the video again, concluded, “I don’t see how they could not do anything about the death of Joseph Mann.”
A resident called this “business as usual for police officers when it comes to black folks in our communities.”
Richard Owen, one of the co-chairs of LEAD, (Law Enforcement Accountability Directive) said they have been working with the local leadership to change policies and procedure and, while they are proud of what the city council has done to date, “it’s not nearly enough.”
He said, “Once again this is an example of the fox guarding the chicken coop. The District Attorney is an arm of the police department, name one case in the state of California, just one where the District Attorney has ruled against the police in the murder of a black man.
“It hasn’t happened,” he said. “It’s not going to happen because our officers are protected by California’s Officer Bill of Rights, which needs to be changed.”
He said he is supportive of Assemblymember Kevin McCarty’s bill that will be introduced in the next few weeks which will require every shooting to be investigated by an independent prosecutor.
Assemblymember McCarty released a statement, “Like many Sacramentans who saw the video, I question the conclusion by the D.A. that police acted within reason in the shooting and killing of Joseph Mann.”
He said, “For far too long, there has been distrust surrounding police shootings and the decisions by local D.A.’s that work closely with police officers. This decision, coupled with the decision of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, is yet another example of why we need an independent investigation for an officer involved shooting where a civilian is killed. California needs a better process to investigate these incidents like the states of Wisconsin, New York, and Illinois.”
He added, “Next week, I’m introducing common sense legislation to create an independent process to rebuild public trust between the police and the community.”
Mayor Darrell Steinberg added, “I have enormous respect for the men and women of the Sacramento Police Department, but what unfolded with Joseph Mann is extremely tragic, unacceptable, and we are reminded of that again today with the district attorney’s decision.”
In October the Vanguard asked Ken Williams, a use-of-force expert, to break down the two videos. After viewing the second video and witnessing the “hot mic” which captured their intention to hit Mr. Mann with the police vehicle, he concluded that “this is most likely premeditated murder.”
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles County, a recall effort is mounting against Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey for her decision not to file criminal charges against two police officers who shot a mentally ill black man in 2014.
Her office announced that decision last Tuesday, finding that 25-year-old Ezell Ford had tried to grab one of the officers’ guns and presented an immediate threat to police.
“Lacey has betrayed the trust of our community and has essentially been useless in terms of protecting our citizens from police murder and abuse,” said the L.A. Chapter CEO Rev. K.W. at a press conference Wednesday.
News reports note that the two officers spotted Ford sitting on a couch on the sidewalk in a residential area, socializing with other individuals, and decided to approach. The LA Police Commission found that the officers should not have approached him in the first place, that the officer was largely responsibility for escalating the situation, and faulted one of the two officers for their conduct.
The Ford case has added to questions “about whether the Los Angeles district attorney’s office provides any meaningful check on police shootings,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the ACLU of Southern California.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, John Burris, who represents the family of Joseph Mann, will be in Sacramento at a Vanguard Fundraiser discussing this and other incidents. Tickets are available online.
—David M. Greenwald reporting