Monday, October 03, 2016
LATimes | A graphic police video that appears to show two Sacramento police officers trying to run over a mentally ill homeless man with their cruiser has sparked tough questions from both city leaders and some law enforcement use-of-force experts who say it might be hard to justify the behavior.
Patrol car recordings related to the July 11 fatal shooting of Joseph Mann were released by police Sept. 20. But it wasn’t until last week that enhanced audio from one dash camera inside a police cruiser revealed one officer using an expletive and saying, “I’m going to hit him.” The other officer can be heard saying, “Go for it" as the patrol car turns sharply toward Mann.
Mann died less than a minute later after officers chased him a short distance on foot and opened fire, striking him 14 times. Police were pursuing Mann after receiving reports of a man wielding a knife in the neighborhood.
Two experts in police tactics said the video and audio recording raised several troubling questions about the officers’ actions. They note that for most of the pursuit, officers were safe inside their cars and no members of the public appeared near Mann.
Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County sheriff’s deputy and legal advisor on police use of force, called what he saw on the videos "Lone Ranger-ish." He was most concerned by the officer stating his intention to harm Mann half a block away from the suspect, even before seeing what Mann was doing.
"I have a real issue with officers declaring their intent in the heat of the moment,” he said.
"The issue [is] ... the use of lethal force with the radio car as a weapon. That is tough to defend,” said Charles "Sid" Heal, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff's commander.
“It is impossible to be definitive because the situational awareness is developed beyond what the video depicts, but without substantial provocation and urgency, deciding to employ lethal force before confronting the suspect is going to be difficult to defend,” Heal said.
Former Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Greg Meyer, a prominent use-of-force expert, cautioned that the officers' comments are open to interpretation. The remark "I'm going to hit him" does not necessarily mean "run him over,” Meyer said Sunday.