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Sacramento police released more details Tuesday about the summer fatal police shooting of a homeless man, including videos of the incident. Under pressure from members of the city council and the mayor to provide more information about the shooting, Police Chief Sam Somers revealed Tuesday that officers fired 18 shots, 14 of which struck 50-year-old Joseph Mann on July 11. Police released video footage taken from three police dashboard cameras and one from surveillance at a nearby business. The images show Mann running down a brightly lit street, gesturing toward officers, before he is gunned down by two officers. The officers remain on desk duty rather than patrol, Somers said.
Previously released video shot by a bystander shows Mann interacting with police before the shooting, doing karate moves in the middle of a street, and zigzagging as he walked. As other police shootings have drawn scrutiny and protests nationwide, Sacramento police have faced criticism over the shooting, and Mann’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that police should not have used lethal force because Mann showed overt signs he was in the midst of a mental crisis. “It’s unprecedented for us to release video prior to the adjudication process,” Somers told reporters. “There are times that we’re in today, sometimes it’s important that we come out with this video or this audio.”
Members of the city council and the mayor have demanded to see the footage themselves, and were scheduled to view it Tuesday evening. Police also released 911 emergency recordings, Tuesday, in which one caller said Mann waved a knife in the air. Another said he pulled a gun out of his pocket. Callers also speculated that Mann appeared to be mentally ill. The chief says no gun was located, although police found a knife. Somers said a specialized team that is able to assist officers with mentally ill subjects was not called out. But he said a toxicology screening that recently came back shows Mann also had methamphetamine in his system.
“It’s not only individuals that are mentally impaired, but also chemically impaired,” police are dealing with, he said. Family members described Mann as a college graduate who was smart, loved politics and economics, and succeeded in several careers before deteriorating into mental illness about five years ago. They said he had been living on the streets before his death. Attorney John Burris said the family was relieved that police released the footage Tuesday, though they would like it to have been done sooner, to mitigate “against some of the grief that the family has suffered.” He said even if Mann had methamphetamine in his system, he was acting bizarrely and police should not have used lethal force. “There was nothing about his conduct that suggested he should have been shot multiple times,” Burris said. “Any reasonable police officer should have noticed that he was mentally impaired.”
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