Cops Fired 16 Bullets Into Mentally Ill Black Man, “Tattooed” Him From Head to Feet


Nick Cahill | Courthouse News Service

SACRAMENTO (CN) — The family of a black man killed by Sacramento police claim in court that officers needlessly “tattooed him from heel to chest” with 16 bullets despite knowing he was suffering a mental breakdown.

Joseph Mann was shot to death on July 11 by officers responding to a 911 call of a man wandering down a busy North Sacramento street with a gun.

Officers used “poor tactics,” failed to contact mental health experts and provoked a confrontation with Mann, who was showing obvious signs of mental distress, his family claims in the Aug. 4 federal lawsuit.

Mann was unarmed, and obviously in mental distress when he was killed, his family says: “He was doing karate moves and zigzagging back and forth across the street as he tried to walk away from the officers.” They say the officers “violated their training and established police protocol … abandoned their positions of safety behind their patrol vehicles and rushed toward decedent Mann, provoking a close-range confrontation.”

“The officers shot decedent Mann at least sixteen (16) times, tattooing him from heel to chest with gunshot wounds as he feebly attempted to leave the scene. Decedent Joseph Mann died as a result of the officers’ poor tactics and unwarranted use of excessive force.”

The family and their attorney John Burris on Friday released a cellphone video from a witness, which they say contradicts police reports on the shooting.

The shaky video shows Mann weaving across the street and ignoring officers’ commands to stop. Mann eventually backs up to a commercial building and is shot repeatedly by the tailing officers positioned in the street near their vehicles.

“Any plain person could see that this was a mentally impaired, emotionally disturbed person at the time,” Burris said at a Friday news conference. “You certainly don’t kill them just because they don’t comply with your basic demands.”

Sacramento police said they were called by neighbors who reported seeing a black man brandishing a knife while walking through an apartment complex. They said Mann matched the man’s description and that he charged at a police vehicle with a knife, then fled officers and ignored commands coming from a police loudspeaker.

“Still armed with a knife, he took a combative posture towards officers while failing to comply with any commands given by them. During this time, the suspect was observed reaching for his waistband as if he was trying to retrieve a weapon,” the Sacramento Police Department said in a statement.

The officers who shot him have a combined 25 years with the department and have been placed on paid leave.

Burris says the family wants the department to release body camera video of the incident and a federal investigation.

They also seek punitive damages for wrongful death.

Published by Courthouse News Service.

Watch the video below: