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Family: Audio reveals cops tried to run man down with cruiser before shooting him

Sacramento police dash-cam video recorded in the minutes before Joseph Mann was shot and killed on July 11, 2016.

CBS Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The family of a black man killed by police in Sacramento in July demanded murder charges Monday against two officers heard on dash-cam video talking about trying to hit the man with their police cruiser before shooting him 14 times.

The officers “behaved like big game hunters closing in on an animal,” said John Burris, a lawyer for the family of 50-year-old Joseph Mann.

Burris made the allegations as activists in Los Angeles separately called on police to publicly name officers involved in the deadly shooting Saturday of an 18-year-old black man - one of several deadly police encounters with black men over the last week.

He also called for the U.S. Justice Department to open a civil rights investigation into Mann’s death and said the officers’ actions constituted premeditated murder.

The officers can be heard on the recording saying “I’m gonna hit him” and “OK, go for it” before appearing to drive their cruiser twice toward Mann, who managed to dodge it both times. The officers then stopped the cruiser, got out of it, pursued him on foot and shot him 14 times.  

“Mann was standing stationary on a sidewalk with no one in close proximity when the officers unloaded their guns,” Burris wrote in a letter he said he sent the U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Sacramento police spokesman Matthew McPhail said he could not immediately comment on whether officers are trained to use squad cars as weapons. But he said the law and police protocol allow any person to use reasonable means to defend themselves under extreme circumstances.

“Our officers are encouraged to assess each circumstance and think critically about the tools at their disposal,” McPhail said.

The two officers were put on a brief leave after the July 11 shooting and returned to work on desk duty instead of patrol the following week.

An administrative review of their actions is underway that could result in them being fired, suspended or receiving no punishment.

“It doesn’t service anybody’s interest with the public or the city, even the officers themselves or the family of the deceased, to have any sort of determination to be made before the investigation is complete,” McPhail said.