21, September 2016
Police in the US state of California have released video footage of a deadly encounter between officers and a mentally ill African American man, who was killed after being shot 14 times. The violent confrontation happened on July 11, when two police officers fired 18 rounds at 50-year-old Joseph Mann, after he failed to heed to their warnings. Disturbing footage from three police dash cams and a nearby surveillance camera, released Tuesday, showed the officers slowly chasing Mann for a few minutes and asking him to drop his knife before gunning him down from about 15ft (6 meters) away.
Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers confirmed the news on Tuesday, saying the footage were released after conversations with City Manager John Shirey and Mayor Kevin Johnson. According to the videos, Mann’s arms were raised and he did not seem to threaten the officers with any weapon when he was shot. He collapsed and could be heard shouting in pain as the cops opened fire.
Prior to the incident, police had received distress calls about a man dwelling Del Paso Heights while holding a knife and gun in his hands. The knife was later found at the scene but Mann’s alleged firearm was never recovered by police. According to the media, the 911 callers had clearly pointed to Mann’s mental illness but the dispatch had failed to inform the officers of the matter.
“There’s a man outside of my apartment with a gun and a knife,” a 911 caller said in the recording. “There’s children all around, and he’s mentally ill.” Mann’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against the police and the city, alleging that the officers should not have resorted to lethal force because he was experiencing a mental crisis. “Any reasonable police officer should have noticed that he was mentally impaired” John Burris the Mann family’s lawyer said.
Mann’s family members described him as a smart college graduate who succeeded in several careers before deteriorating into mental illness about five years ago. The case is expected to stir more controversy and anti-police sentiments in the US, amid a public outrage against law enforcement agencies due to their unjustified killings of unarmed African Americans over the past months.