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Sacramento PD Chief: Tasers 'Not A Panacea To Solve All Issues'

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento Chief of Police was scheduled to meet Wednesday evening with the family of a man officers shot and killed Monday. Chief Sam Somers says it appears his officers had no choice but to shoot the man.

He says officers ruled out the use of a taser because of the distance between them and Joseph Mann and due to the type of jacket that Mann was wearing.

"When you look at the taser, it's not like it's a panacea to solve all issues if someone doesn't have a firearm. It is something that is a tool that the officer has. Even with that, you have to get within a certain amount of distance to a person. It's not like you can fire from 100 feet.  You have to be within 21 feet and 21 feet is a stretch. On top of that, you have clothing and you have the dynamics of somebody moving. So, it's not the like the taser is heat-seeking. You kind of have to have someone who is standing there providing you the opportunity to actually discharge."

Somers says the outcome was not what he or the officers had hoped for.

"I want every encounter to end where everybody comes out safe, my officers comes out safe, the individual they contact come out safe. It's just unfortunate that this one did not end that way. I'm glad no other citizen was injured. But, I'm saddened we had to take a life that day."

Officers were called to Del Paso Boulevard in north Sacramento because Mann had been seen behaving erratically and waving a knife around. His family says he was mentally ill and homeless, but not violent.

Somers says the department bought two new simulators this year to help officers train for situations where people or officers are threatened.

"One of them is mobile that we take to all the different stations and it rotates through so we can get it to the personnel where they are.  One of them is out at our academy where we actually have the staff going through there and we have all the kids who go through our academy go through that particular training simulator."

The Sacramento District Attorney's office will review the shooting of Joseph Mann. Somers says he believes investigators will find officers had no choice but to use lethal force. Regardless, he says different divisions of his department will also review the shooting. 

"We look at the administrative process that is more on the tactics used. Then we also do a review on the management level. Are there things we need to change?  Are there new technologies that we need, new policies that we need, new training that we need to implement, training we need to modify."

Current protocol requires any officer who deploys a taser to be "covered" by another officer who has deployed a firearm.

From 2012-2014, officers used tasers in 254 arrests where force was required. In those years, the department four officer-involved shootings per year.  

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