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911 Caller, Witness Recount Contradicting Scenarios Of Joseph Mann's Final Moments


Two neighbors who live near Del Paso Boulevard talked with Capital Public Radio about the crucial moments that led to the fatal shooting of Joseph Mann. Mann was a mentally-ill black man shot and killed by Sacramento Police Officers in July. 

One of the neighbors was the first to call 9-1-1. The other shot the cell phone video that let the community know Mann did not die exactly as the police department claimed.

The neighbors recounted Mann's final moments as new security and dashboard-camera footage and police dispatch audio recordings have been released to the public. Meanwhile, family members of Mann are expressing their disappointment Wednesday that they were not informed of the new footage and audio recordings before the police department released them to the public.

The man who called 911 would only identify himself to Capital Public Radio as Chris. 

He says he still believes he saw a gun when Joseph Mann walked past him and then again when he stood across the street from him.

"It looked like the butt of a gun," he says. "I don't know for sure. I don't know guns. You, know, I'm not a gun person. I hate guns. You know, but it looked like the butt."

Listen to the 911 calls below. One was made by Chris and another call was made by an unidentified woman. Chris can be heard describing the gun and that it was on Mann's waistband. He also describes Mann holding a knife.

Here's the transcription:

"Where is the gun?"
"It's in his waistband."
"It's in his waistband? Is he having an argument with anybody?"
"No, he's just standing there."
"OK What color is the gun?"
At this time a woman in the background can be heard saying, "he's pissed all over himself."
"Uh. It looks black."
"OK It has a black handle?"
"Yeah. It's in his pants. I really can't see the whole thing."
"Where's the knife, sir?"
"It's in his hand."


Chris says Mann was half a block away when he waved something in the air shortly before the first officers arrived.

"He just pulled the gun out," says Chris. "He just pulled the gun out. He just said, 'I'm the law'."

Frank, who also asked that only his first name be used, lives in the area and witnessed the shooting. He tells Capital Public Radio he was the one who shot the footage of the incident that was first made public. (The footage was first released by lawyers for the Mann family members. They have filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Sacramento).  

Frank says Mann walked past him on the day of the shooting, wearing a backpack.

"He had his little backpack and him and came to stop right there and he was throwing his knife up in the air and doing like karate moves and stuff and then he went over there across the street and did the same thing," he says.

Frank maintains that the only weapon he saw from Mann was an item that looked like a steak knife.

"He didn't have no gun," says Frank. "I know he didn't. If they didn't find a gun on him, he didn't have one."

When police arrived and began following Mann up Southgate Road toward Del Paso Boulevard, Frank followed from a distance by using an alley. He was about half a block away when he says backup officers arrived, approached Mann and shot him.

"The way I seen it, it was just a mafia-style killing as far as I was concerned," he says. "I mean, they did follow him and said, ... said, 'halt' and all of that and 'put your weapon down.' They didn't need to shoot him no 18 times. They didn't really try to contain him."

Mann had been carrying a plastic coffee cup, which he threw at the first officers to respond, about three minutes after they began following him.

Chris, the 911 caller, says he still believes he saw a firearm.

Capital Public Radio asked him what the item could have been.

"I have no idea," he says. "I even asked later after [the police] had finished the investigation, 'please tell me you guys found a gun.'"

Chris says he has no regrets, only questions about the police officers' use of force.

"I feel good about what I did, [Mann] was not in his right [mind]," he says. "They could have handled it differently. I'm sad for what happened. Could they have handled it differently? Probably. Should they have handled it differently? Probably."

The police department says the only weapon found after the incident was a four-inch-long folding knife.

Mann's family say Joseph Mann was mentally ill. Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers says an autopsy shows Mann also had methamphetamine in his system when he died.

Sacramento Police Investigators turned over the case to the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office for review. The DA says there is no timetable for a decision.

Meanwhile, Mann's family members say officials should have waited to release new video and audio from the shooting until they were able to see them. 

Joseph Mann's brother, Robert Mann, says Mayor Kevin Johnson did call to tell the family of the city's decision and to apologize for the way the video was released.

"If this wasn't the way that you wanted it to come out ... how come you didn't stop it? How come you didn't wait and put it on hold like you had the power to do?" says Robert Mann. "For it to be released like this, it shows me they... had no blunt respect for the family and it was just a political agenda.

The family, members of the public and the Sacramento City Council have been calling for release of the videos since Frank's cell phone video was intially made public shortly after the shooting.

The department says this is the first time it has ever released video of a police action.

Frank's cell phone video appears to directly contradict the department's version of the incident  that Mann turned towards them with a knife raised. The cell phone video shows Mann was facing officers as they approached him, but he was not moving towards them when he was shot.