A graphic video shot from a Sacramento police cruiser dash-cam appears to show two officers attempting to run over a mentally ill black suspect before they fatally shot him 14 times.
One of the officers curses the man while gunning the engine with sirens blaring along neighborhood streets in pursuit of Joseph Mann, 50, who can be seen zigzagging several yards ahead of the cruiser.
“I’m going to hit him,” the driver says.
“OK. Go for it. Go for it,” his partner responds.
The officers eventually stop their car and then chase Mann on foot. Moments later, gunfire can be heard on the video.
The July 11 incident prompted city officials to begin the process of reforming the police department and examining the use of law enforcement vehicles.
“It was important to the mayor to make this information publicly available,” Crystal Straight, a spokeswoman for Mayor Kevin Johnson, said Saturday, “as part of our ongoing effort to build transparency in the city, trust within the community and still maintain respect for due process.”
Police say they were responding to calls of a man waving a knife and acting erratically. Relatives of Mann said police were wrong to use lethal force.
John Burris, an attorney representing Mann’s family in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, called on the police to release the names of the officers involved in the shooting and to allow the family to view all surveillance video of the incident.
The lawsuit was based, in part, on dash-cam video recordings that sparked protests by Black Lives Matter activists and calls for public unity by city officials.
The video and audio recordings related to the incident were released Sept. 20 after city officials, led by Mayor Johnson, demanded that they be made public. The police department called a news conference to release the material shortly after the Sacramento Bee posted a video obtained from a private citizen.
Several news outlets, including The Times, wrote about the release of videos and audio tapes at the time. On Friday, however, the Bee reported specific details of the video and audio taken from inside the police cruiser in which one officer is quoted as saying about the suspect, “I'm going to hit him," and the other responding, “Go for it.” The Washington Post also ran a story on Saturday.
Burris described the officers’ actions as “cowboyish” and “outrageous” and told the Sacramento Bee that he plans to amend the family’s lawsuit to include evidence showing the officers attempted to hit Mann with their police cruiser.
The videos released were recorded by three police cruiser dash-cams and a private surveillance camera and show Mann wearing a backpack and walking through a Sacramento neighborhood.
Police also released two 911 calls with witnesses saying Mann was armed with a gun and a knife. One of the callers twice described Mann as “mentally ill.”
The videos show officers following Mann as he turns onto the 100 block of Lochbrae Road. At one point, Mann runs toward the officers and then away from them.
The video then shows two officers with guns drawn running after Mann and firing repeatedly. Mann falls to the ground as the officers continue firing.
Later, officers found a knife with a 4-inch blade, but no firearm. Of the 18 rounds fired, 14 struck Mann, police said.
The killing came four days after five officers were fatally shot during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dallas.