Report: Sacramento, Calif., Police Department Moves to Fire Officer Involved in Shooting Death of Mentally Ill Black Man

Sacramento Bee video screenshot
Sacramento Bee video screenshot

On July 11, 2016, two police officers fired 18 shots at a mentally ill black man, who was armed with a knife with a 3.5-inch blade and “acting erratically,” within one minute of encountering him in a residential Sacramento, Calif., neighborhood.

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One of the officers involved in the shooting, Randy Lozoya, retired April 1, and the Sacramento Bee reports that the Sacramento Police Department took steps Monday to fire the second officer, 26-year veteran John Tennis.

Tennis fired eight of the 18 shots aimed at 50-year-old Joseph Mann, but according to the Bee, it’s unclear whether the shooting is the reason the department filed preliminary termination paperwork.

Tennis, who has been a patrolman for most of his career and has a history of misconduct, was initially taken off patrol and placed on modified duty after the shooting. He was put on administrative leave May 25, pending the outcome of an internal-affairs investigation into whether or not he and Lozoya violated department policies and procedures or training standards.

In September the Sacramento Bee obtained video footage from a dash camera as well as a surveillance camera that showed the shooting from two different angles, and that footage resulted in the launching of multiple investigations into the shooting.

In the dashcam video, an officer identified as Tennis can be heard saying, “Fuck this guy. I’m going to hit him,” and then from the dashcam we see the officer attempt to carry that out.

The officer misses Mann, who runs across the street and begins running up the block away from the officers. Lozoya and Tennis exit their vehicle and chase Mann up the street, catching him in front of a building, drawing their weapons and shooting him to death.

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The city’s Office of Public Safety Accountability, which critiques the findings of the internal-affairs investigation, is expected to release a separate, public report in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, let’s consider that Lozoya was allowed to retire, and because police personnel and disciplinary records are confidential under California state law, we will never know if he ever faced any official discipline for his actions.

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Read more at the Sacramento Bee.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

DISCUSSION

"Hachi"

Why is it so difficult to deescalate crisis situations? There are thousands of mental health organizations across the country that specialize in crisis intervention training. There are others that are dedicated to cultural competency. If departments invested an iota in this or prioritized it as a line item in their budget,perhaps just maybe interactions wouldn’t end up with a dead POC.