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Sacramento Officers Cleared in Shooting Death of Joseph Mann

SACRAMENTO -- Nearly seven months after Joseph Mann, a mentally ill Sacramento man was shot and killed by Sacramento police, the two officers who pulled their triggers, John Tennis and Randy Lazoya, learned they will not face criminal charges.

After combing through surveillance video, pictures, 911 calls and witness statements, the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office concluded that the officers’ actions were justified.

"We're disgusted, we're sick of this happening on a regular basis in Sacramento," said Tanya Faison, founder of Black Lives Matter Sacramento.

The case has already sparked protests throughout the city. This decision, according to Faison, only deepens divides.

"If we had the right processes put in place for accountability and transparency we would not be where we're at right now,” Faison said.

"We thought if there were ever a case in Sacramento that was going to yield itself in a decision by a prosecutor, this was the set of facts and this was the case,” said civil rights attorney Mark Harris.

Mann, whose family says he was mentally ill, was killed Jul. 11 in Del Paso Heights after multiple witnesses called 911 about a man with a knife acting erratically. According to the DA’s report, Mann was under the influence of methamphetamine, refused police orders to put his knife down and made threatening comments.

Officers said they believed Mann was getting ready to lunge at them when they shot him 18 times.

"For them to gun down my brother in the streets of Sacramento like he was some vicious dog, they need to be held accountable for this,” said Robert Mann, Joseph’s brother, at a press conference held in 2016.

"There was no basis to shoot him at the time,” said John Burris, the Mann family’s attorney.

Burris points to one specific piece of video, clearly showing Mann's last moments, saying it proves Mann never lunged at officers. The video appears to show Mann running along the sidewalk, parallel to officers running on the street, when he stops and faces them.

"These officers should've tried to de-escalate the situation,” said Burris. The DA’s report, however, claims the officers did try multiple times to de-escalate.

It goes on to say, "Based on a thorough review of the evidence…Mann posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the responding officers and the public."

Sacramento Police, various members of city council, the District Attorney’s spokesman and the mayor all declined to speak on camera for this story.

Mayor Steinberg released the following statement:

“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.

As Mayor, I am committed to ensuring we leave no stone unturned as we look back on what happened. It is why I will be laser focused on the results of the ongoing internal investigation. If the internal investigation concludes officers were following policy, then it is past time for us to change those policies. There must be accountability.

What else can we do to take responsibility – to show a demonstrable difference – to reconcile outdated policies and practices with where the true heart and culture of our police department and City stands with our community?

This is one of my top priorities and why City Council voted unanimously to pay for 40 hours of comprehensive crisis intervention training for our entire police department during our third meeting.

It is our responsibility and moral imperative to have the best trained, equipped and supported community police to protect all of our citizens and community at large. We should accept nothing less and I will work to ensure we are a city that supports the men and women in uniform so they can support all of us.”