Sacramento, CA — Joseph Mann, 50, used to work for the Department of Corrections until he had a mental breakdown in 2011 following the death of his mother. Since then, this mentally ill man has peacefully lived on the streets of Sacramento — until last month when he was shot 18 times and killed as he fled from police.
Mann’s family has since filed a wrongful death suit against the Sacramento police department for the killing of their family member on July 11.
According to Mann’s brother Robert, he was a harmless 110-pound homeless man. However, police, who were clearly not trained in dealing with the mentally ill said he was acting erratically and refused to obey their commands as they yelled them from the loudspeaker.
Screaming over a loud speaker at a person with a mental illness is not only futile, it only serves to further confuse, frighten, and provoke said person — especially if that person is schizophrenic.
So, instead of calming down and talking with officers, Mann tried to get away.
“You do not shout at them, you do not give them commands because they are obviously mentally impaired,” said civil rights attorney John Burris, who is representing the family and who released the video.
“One could easily say this is an execution because they were not being attacked,” said Burris.
Since the incident, police have refused to release any dash cam video or body cam video. They’ve also kept secret the alleged 9-1-1 call that led to their response. And, now that we see the amateur cellphone video released by the family’s attorney, we now know why.
According to the police report, they were told Mann was carrying a gun. However, no gun was found at the scene. Officers then claimed that Mann charged them with a knife and “reached for his waistband.” Again, video shows this was not true.
As Mann attempted to flee officers, who he likely perceived, due to his mental illness, as a danger, he was gunned down.
Mann was shot 18 times by two different officers. He died on the scene.
“For them to gun my brother down in the streets of Sacramento like he was vicious dog… They need to be held accountable for this,” said Robert Mann.
Attorney Burris lamented, according to the Davis Vanguard, that “as a result of the officers’ ‘comply or die’ attitude, agitated officers inexplicably left the safety of their patrol vehicles and unnecessarily provoked a close range confrontation with Joseph Mann.” Burris further charges that “non-lethal force was not employed, no beanbags, Tasers, or pepper spray, all of which should have been considered by these officers, who made no attempt to subdue Mr. Mann with non-lethal force prior to dispatching a firing squad.”
Below is what it looks like to be mentally ill and run from police.
As we have previously reported, the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, an organization dedicated to eliminating the barriers faced by those with severe mental illnesses, released a jaw-dropping report, last year. In their report titled, Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters, researchers discovered that people with an untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during an interaction with police than anyone else.
According to the study, by all accounts – official and unofficial – a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness.
Where official government data regarding police shootings and mental illness have been analyzed – in one U.S. city and several other Western countries – the findings indicate that mental health disorders are a factor in as many as 1 in 2 fatal law enforcement encounters.
Joseph Mann was one of these men.