7th Continent – Upping my pledge

I am not a millionaire. However I am not poor or “just about managing” either. If I had to classify my financial situation I’d call it “comfortably well off”. Now if you look at my hobby, games in general, the cost of games is usually in the tens or hundreds of dollars/euros. Which means that the purchase of even an expensive game or a somewhat exaggerated, unnecessary game purchase isn’t going to cause me any financial hardship. There are occasions where spending more is a reasonable option for me, even if I wouldn’t recommend it for everybody. All this to say that I just upped my pledge for the 7th Continent second Kickstarter project from $49 to $200. Why?

Well, it started with me packing a suitcase for a week of holidays with my wife. We like our holidays to be a mix of visiting things and relaxing, so we always take some entertainment with us. And I was hesitating to take the box of the 7th Continent game I got from the previous Kickstarter. I really want to play this, but what if it gets damaged or the airline loses my baggage and the game is gone? You can’t buy the 7th Continent anywhere, it is only available during Kickstarter projects, and they don’t happen all that often (about every 2 years).

And then I realized that because there is currently the second Kickstarter project ongoing (I had already pledged to get the next expansion), I could up my pledge and get a second base game too for $129. Throw in a bit more money for optional purchases like expansions (which also aren’t available anywhere else) and I upped my pledge to $200. Worst case scenario is that I end up with one extra box I’ll never open. Best case scenario is that I’ll have a shiny second edition box with lots of expansions at home, and the peace of mind that allows me to take the original box with me on holidays without being stressed about damaging or losing it. Not something I would do for a game that can easily be replaced, but for the 7th Continent I considered it worth the money.

The current Kickstarter project ends in 5 days, so if you still want to join you need to hurry. The projects already has over 33,000 backers and is over 10,000% funded. That is not a typo, they asked for $40,000 and got $4.5 million. As a “second edition” the risk of not getting the product you paid for is much reduced, although it probably will be late again. Great success of a Kickstarter project brings its own logistics problems, and this second run got 3 times the backers and 4 times the money of the first run. The game has raving reviews on BoardGameGeek (Rank #56 out of 96,000 games) and elsewhere. And unlike Gloomhaven you can’t just buy the 7th Continent on Amazon. You can get just the base game, in English or French, for $80, but another $49 also gets you the big expansion “What Goes Up, Must Come Down” and the many stretch goals. Or if you are like me you can go all out and get pretty much everything for $200.

The culture war is a deliberate distraction

Capitalism is the best economic system for the overall creation of wealth. However it is lousy at distributing that wealth fairly between the people who contributed to the creation; and it equally sucks at all other issues which require solidarity (e.g. health care) or involve the common good (e.g. the environment). After WWII it appeared that the first world countries had solved that problem: They had all created political systems in which “the right” fought for freedom and capitalism, and “the left” fought for fair distribution, solidarity, and the common good. Alternating between left and right governments created a balance, and even allowed different countries to arrive at different points on that balance, e.g. Scandinavian countries having more solidarity, and the US having more capitalism.

However the system had one inherent flaw: Politicians are by definition members of the elite, the ruling class. And that is true for left wing politicians as well. Thus a right wing politician fighting for unfettered capitalism that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer was both following his party politics and his own greed. While the left wing elite was naturally less inclined to fight for policies that aided less well off, because it didn’t help them personally. So at various points in the 90’s the left wings in different countries simply gave up on economic policy for fairer distribution of wealth, and just joined the capitalist camp which made the elite richer. Today a left wing politician like Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn who still push for some economic fairness and solidarity are considered as “odd” and decried as “communists”.

Now this has created a growing rift between voters and the elite that leads them in politics and media. The people simply isn’t represented any more. They are being fed lies like “your salaries are only low because of immigrants” or “tax cuts for the rich will trickle down to you”. In their desperation they increasingly vote for extremists and populists, and end up harming themselves even more through the resulting policies. And the left and right wing elite in order to be seen to do something play acts a culture war to distract the masses from the real problems.

In Germany there is an organization of soup kitchens which collect food past its sell-by-date and distributes it to people who are so poor that they have to beg for food. One local organization recently made headlines because they enacted a controversial “Germans first” policy, after food fights had broken out in which younger male immigrants shoved aside elderly German grandmothers. And the discussion is all about the culture war, with the left fighting for equal rights for the immigrants, and the right defending priority for the natives. Only the extreme left is mentioning the real problem: That in one of the world’s richest countries, at the top of the economic cycle and full employment, there are still so many people having to beg for old food that the soup kitchens can’t feed all of them.

As Bill Clinton still knew, “it’s the economy, stupid”. If the centrist parties fail to represent the economic interests of the majority of the population, they will fade into irrelevance. History repeats itself, and the rise of populist parties in Europe in the 1930’s (not just in Germany) isn’t really the example we would want the world to follow. We need to see the culture was as the distraction that it is, and concentrate on the real economic problems.

12 Most Insane Rules From the Biggest Neo-Nazi Website on the Internet

White supremacist style guides are…different.

The Daily Stormer is an online hub for racists, white nationalists, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and other assorted angry white men. It’s run by Andrew Anglin, who’s been in hiding for months avoiding an SPLC lawsuit charging stochastic terrorism against a Jewish woman in Montana. (Even underground, Anglin has managed to pull in a healthy sum in donations from supporters.) Among the confirmed readers of Anglin’s site are Dylann Roof, who in 2015 murdered nine black parishioners in a South Carolina church, and James Harris Jackson, who murdered a black man in New York City using a sword last March.

HuffPost writer Ashley Feinberg recently got a bit more insight behind the curtain of Anglin’s operation via the site’s 17-page style guide for contributing writers. The document lays out a few standard rules and protocols, from good HTML practices to proper grammar dictates, as well as a few rules that apply only to racist bloggers. The guide is packed with writerly advice on how to promote Anglin’s goals, which begin with expanding readership and end with an all-out race war. The key, per Anglin, is to maintain the site’s veneer of “non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism.”

Here are 12 of the most insane pieces of advice from the biggest neo-Nazi website on the internet.

1. Always blame the Jews.

Anglin writes that the Daily Stormer is “designed to spread the message of nationalism and anti-Semitism to the masses.” To that end, he notes that authors’ “prime directive” is singular: “Always Blame the Jews for Everything.”

“As Hitler says, people will become confused and disheartened if they feel there are multiple enemies. As such, all enemies should be combined into one enemy, which is the Jews. This is pretty much objectively true anyway, but we want to leave out any and all nuance. So no blaming Enlightenment thought, pathological altruism, technology/urbanization, etc. just blame Jews for everything.”

Anglin goes on to assert that Jews should be blamed “for the behavior of other nonwhites” as well as white women. “Women should be attacked, but there should always be mention that if it wasn’t for the Jews, they would be acting normally.”

2. Go easy on the swear words, heavy on the racial slurs.

Contributors are discouraged from “an overuse of profanity” which “can come across as goofy.” But Anglin recommends liberal use of racial epithets, and even offers a helpful list of specific “allowed and advisable” slurs.

•Paki (can be used for non-Pakistani Moslems, especially Arabs, because that’s funny)
And others

Anglin adds that while the n-word is also cool, it “shouldn’t be used constantly.” Let spontaneity be your guide, he seems to suggest. Keep people guessing about what new and disgusting way you’ll express your racist self!

3. Demean women, gays, black folks and, of course, the Jews every chance you get.

Anglin shares that “[f]*ggots can be called all the words for f*ggot,” though scatological references are frowned upon. He gives a specific list of words recommended for describing women, and the word “woman” doesn’t appear on it once. Instead, it features “slut,” “whore,” “bitch,” “harlot,” “trollop,” “slag,” and “skag.”

This is yet another moment when Anglin slips in a reminder to writers to shoehorn in more anti-Semitism amidst the misogyny. “Whenever writing about women,” Anglin requests, “make sure to follow the prime directive and blame Jew feminism for their behavior.”

4. But also, be sure to keep things fun and funny so people want to join the…clan!

The most insidious aspect of Anglin’s style guide is its repeated insistence on a stealth recruitment strategy that relies on humor and lightheartedness to get young white readers excited about white nationalism. He repeatedly admonishes writers to cool it with the super angry racist diatribes that might scare newbies off. Instead, he suggests, authors should infuse their racism with lots of jokes, like the hipster racism of Vice circa 2003. (Ironically, in this same document, Anglin trashes Vice co-founder and hipster-racism aficionado Gavin McInnes as a “bottomless bucket of lulz.”)

“While racial slurs are allowed/recommended, not every reference to non-white should not be a slur and their use should be based on the tone of the article. Generally, when using racial slurs, it should come across as half-joking—like a racist joke that everyone laughs at because it’s true. This follows the generally light tone of the site.”

Here’s the key, though: “It should not come across as genuine raging vitriol. That is a turnoff to the overwhelming majority of people.”

Anglin reaffirms that the goal is to lure new readers, and potential new adherents to the alt-right’s racist agenda, above all. And the way to do that is by dressing the message up in internet memes and provocative jokes, and then to drive the (racist) point home over and over again.

“[T]hough we do mean to keep readers who are already in the know informed and entertained, it should always be considered that the target audience is people who are just becoming aware of this type of thinking,” Anglin writes. “The goal is to continually repeat the same points, over and over and over and over again. The reader is at first drawn in by curiosity or the naughty humor, and is slowly awakened to reality by repeatedly reading the same points.”

You know how you can end up knowing the words to a song you hate if you hear it enough on the radio? Repetition works. And Anglin’s betting that his writers can beat the audience over the head with their message until it’s gotten inside their heads.

5. Again, avoid overt hatred, despite the fact that it’s precisely what you’re peddling.

“Most people are not comfortable with material that comes across as vitriolic, raging, non-ironic hatred,” Anglin restates in another section of the document. “The unindoctrinated should not be able to tell if we are joking or not. There should also be a conscious awareness of mocking stereotypes of hateful racists. I usually think of this as self deprecating humor—I am a racist making fun of stereotype of racists, because I don’t take myself super-seriously.”

He adds, “There should be a conscious agenda to dehumanize the enemy, to the point where people are ready to laugh at their deaths. So it isn’t clear that we are doing this—as that would be a turnoff to most normal people—we rely on lulz.”

To put a very fine, super ugly point on it: “This is obviously a ploy and I actually do want to gas kikes. But that’s neither here nor there.”

6. Quote liberally from mainstream media sources to borrow their validity and authority.

Anglin urges writers to recycle “large parts” from articles in mainstream news outlets as a way to siphon legitimacy toward his own site. The idea is to do a good enough job of combining verifiable facts with nonsense racist propaganda that the two start to blend together.

“Being able to see the mainstream source quoted allows us to co-opt the perceived authority of the mainstream media,” Anglin writes, “and not look like one of those sites we are all probably familiar with where you are never certain if what they are saying has been confirmed.”

7. Note the media outlets covertly helping us do our dirty work.

While suggesting that writers find concise versions of real news stories to incorporate into their posts, Anglin notes that two news outlets seems to share a similar worldview.

“RT and Breitbart have the benefit of being closer to our own spin on many issues,” Anglin writes, “meaning….they are more likely to include points of interest.”

8. Take inspiration from—who else?—Adolf Hitler!

A quote from Anglin, without commentary: “The basic propaganda doctrine of the site is based on Hitler’s doctrine of war propaganda outlined in Mein Kampf, Volume I, Chapter VI. If you have not read this, please do so immediately.”

9. By all means, stir up the anger and rage of violent racist readers, but do it in a way that ensures we can feign innocence in court.

As he notes in a section titled “Violence,” Anglin is well aware that “It’s illegal to promote violence on the internet.” But as someone holding out hope that the U.S. will break out into a wide-scale race war, he’s dedicated to surreptitiously urging violent attacks by his racist followers en masse.

If you’re writing about some enemy Jew/feminist/etc., link their social media accounts,” Anglin advises writers for his site. “Twitter especially. We’ve gotten press attention before when I didn’t even call for someone to be trolled but just linked them and people went and did it.”

He also suggests that “it’s totally important to normalize the acceptance of violence as an eventuality/inevitability.” So murderous racists like Dylann Roof and Anders Breivik are hailed as heroes using language so over-the-top it borders on comical.

“This is great because people think you must be joking,” Anglin cynically notes. “But there is a part of their brain that doesn’t think that…[E]ven when a person can say to themselves ‘this is ridiculous,’ they are still affected by it on an emotional level. Whether they like it or not.”

10. Use popular culture as a vehicle for the white nationalist message.

People like what they know, and so Anglin aims to replicate recognizable and widely known media to engage readers in a way they understand. Early on in the style guide, Anglin admits that the Daily Stormer “is in many ways modeled off of successful liberal blogs such as Gawker.” (Anglin has reportedly previously cited Vice and Infowars.) He recommends writers fill their posts with “pop culture gifs of the style that Buzzfeed uses.”

But beyond just mirroring cultural digital ephemera, Anglin suggests that writers subvert—or rather, “hijack”—popular memes to give them a racist twist.

“Cultural references and attachment of entertainment culture to Nazi concepts have the psychological purpose of removing it from the void of weirdness that it would naturally exist in, due to the way it has been dealt with by the culture thus far, and making it a part of the reader’s world. Through this method we are also able to use the existing culture to transmit our own ideas and agenda.”

The site got lots of attention when it dubbed Taylor Swift an “Aryan Goddess” and suggested the singer is “a secret Nazi.” (For the record, Swift tried to sue a blogger who essentially demanded she disavow the alt-right, at least until the ACLU intervened on the blogger’s behalf. Conversely, Swift has never threatened to sue an actual white nationalist for claiming she supports their cause.)

Anglin also notes he turned 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” into an anti-immigrant song, because racists are lazy, garbage culture vultures who steal black people’s stuff while complaining about the browning of America.  

11. There’s no such thing as bad press.

Remember how stoked the alt-right was when presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a speech about how awful they were? That’s because you can’t shame a movement bereft of morals and principles from jump. Also, because the alt-right’s unofficial motto is “there’s no such thing as bad press.”

“We should always be on the lookout for any opportunity to grab media attention,” Anglin affirms. “It’s all good. No matter what.”

12. Even the payment system is a ‘jokey’ homage to Hitler.

Feinberg found that neo-Nazi hacker Andrew Auernheimer, who also serves as systems administrator for the Daily Stormer, recently shared this information with a group of prospective contributors: “[O]kay basically, it works like this, you can write articles, if we dont like them you can put them on your own blog or whatever, if we accept them for publication we will pay you $14.88.”

1488 is a popular number among white supremacists and other garden-variety racists. Fourteen is a reference to the “14 words,” a racist slogan favored by white nationalists and the like. Two eights—the eighth letter of the alphabet—stands for HH, as in Heil Hitler. (During the 2016 presidential election, a PBS docu-special happened to catch an enthusiastic Trump supporter’s gigantic “88” hand tattoo.)


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Donald Trump Jr. and Ted Cruz Mock Barack Obama with Bizarre Cookie

The president’s son called the pastry an early birthday present.

Donald Trump Jr. Mocks Barack Obama With Giant Cookie

Donald Trump Jr. took to instagram Sunday alongside Texas Senator Ted Cruz to mock former President Barack Obama and pose with a cookie that featured a picture of the former leader. President Donald Trump’s eldest son said the cookie was an early birthday president. “With friends like these… some good friends decided that while my birthday…


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13 years old coding n0w !!

13 years old coding n0w !!

As the demand for fresh, new programmers is increasing in this techno competitive world, I being a 14 year old enthusiastic  kid thought of touching the field of programming for the first time. And I even got the thought at the right time (In my summer vacations!!).

Now, the first question was , from where to start?
  1. I had a laptop.✔
  2. I had net connection.✔
  3. I had a tool to code.✖

So, first thing I had to do was to download a tool to code which after doing from some research on the net was NOTEPAD++.

I knew that as the word ‘NOTEPAD’ appeared I had to type something on the screen. But what to write?
So, sadly I had to join a computer course in the busy city of Mumbai where everything is charged on the amount of time and not on quality.(But I was proved wrong!!)
FIRST DAY OF MY COURSE : I was introduced to languages like H.T.M.L , C.S.S ,Java script. The names were so complex even though I had selected the institute’s easiest course. I was sitting with college students(feeling very proud of myself!!).
H.T.M.L: The written matter in every website is coded with the help of this language.
C.S.S: The colors and some standard effects are given by this language.
Java script: Dynamic and moving effects are given to the matter with Java script.
I got these definations clear on the first day. The explanation was quite good but unexpected for me.
and I started coding these languages . It became clear to me that languages can not only be spoken but also coded.I learnt H.T.M.L and C.S.S quite easily but got some problems in learning Java script. Probably, it was more difficult than the other two.
But finally, I got it clear that kids can code but only some basic languages.Kids can even code the harder languages but then you would have to skip PHYSICS,MATHS,BIOLOGY etc. I couldn’t do that but surely my learning experience with SCTPL was very good.
WHAT IS THIS SCTPL: SCTPL is a software training  company in Mumbai. They teach QUALITY programming without making your pocket light.This institute changed my thinking towards the institutes in Mumbai. 

Do see what  Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and …. many more .. have say

Nokia 9 passes through the FCC with dual rear cameras and Snapdragon 835

We might still see a Christmas miracle, but apart from that, it’s looking more likely that the unannounced Nokia 9 will not debut before the year is out. Even so, it appears that the smartphone recently paid a visit to the FCC, with the phone appearing similar to the Nokia 8 in a few areas.

Starting with the display, the Nokia 9 features a 5.5-inch QHD OLED display, which is a bit larger than the Nokia 8’s 5.3-inch LCD display and delivers deeper blacks and punchier, albeit slightly unrealistic, colors. Much like the Nokia 8, the Nokia 9 also sports dual rear cameras — the former features dual 13 MP cameras, while the latter opts for a 12 MP and 13 MP sensor.

The rear cameras are not that different, though the story changes with the front camera. Whereas the Nokia 8 features a 13 MP selfie camera, the Nokia 9 makes do with a 5 MP sensor. I’m not sure why this change is so drastic, and even though megapixels aren’t everything, it’s hard to ignore the drop in image resolution.

Editor’s Pick

To wrap up the differences, the Nokia 9 swaps the Nokia 8’s 3,090 mAh battery for a larger 3,250 mAh power pack.

Everything else about the Nokia 9 is pretty much the same when compared to the Nokia 8. That means you’ll still find Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset and 128 GB of internal storage, with a microSD card slot available for additional space.

Some people might be upset about Nokia’s choice to go with the Snapdragon 835 for the Nokia 9, particularly since Qualcomm announced the newer, more capable Snapdragon 845 chipset. At the same time, it’s not like the Snapdragon 845 was announced when Nokia started work on the Nokia 9.

There are still some unanswered questions around the Nokia 9, such as when Nokia will unveil the phone, when it will be available, and how much it will go for. At this point, the earliest we could see the Nokia 9 is during CES 2018, though MWC 2018 might be slightly more viable.

Samsung Pay update allows users in India to pay bills inside the app

  • Samsung Pay is being updated to allow users to pay monthly bills within the app.
  • The bills include mobile postpaid bills, electricity, television, and more.
  • This update follows Google Tez rolling out similar features just a few weeks ago.

It seems like every day we hear about new mobile payment apps. But one of the biggest and most successful so far has been Samsung Pay. Even though the app is limited to Samsung’s devices, it has great features like utilizing Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) to pay on machines that don’t have NFC.

Now, users in India are getting another fantastic feature. Samsung Pay is now letting users pay their monthly bills right from inside the app. According to SamMobile, the options include mobile postpaid bills, electricity, DTH (Direct-to-home television), and utility bills. Users can also save bank account and IFSC information for their friends and family so they can easily transfer money to them.

See also

Adding bills to Samsung Pay comes shortly after Google made a similar move. You might remember that a few weeks ago, Google’s Tez rolled out billpaying options for household and utility bills from major companies like Airtel, DishTV, Tata Power, ACT Fibernet, and DoCoMo. The service will eventually cover 70 different billers and cover national and state electricity providers, gas, water, and more.

Competition for customers in India is really heating up. Samsung is currently battling companies like Xiaomi and Huawei for supremacy in the country, and it is finding success. Even though Xiaomi may have come level with the South Korean juggernaut, Samsung is still a force. It recently added more than a million users to Samsung Pay in a single month and it continues to add features like UPI payments via Bharat QR codes.

Google is also working on its presence in the country through the Next Billion Users program. With affordable Android Go devices hitting the market, the competition is only going to get more fierce.

To get the new payment options, all you have to do is update the Samsung Pay app on your Galaxy device.

Player agency

I labeled this post Dungeons & Dragons, but actually the issue of player agency is as true for computer games as it is for pen & paper role-playing games. Every game in which a player controls a character and a DM or a computer controls the world around that character has the same problem: How do we make the player believe that he is playing the hero who is driving the story forward, while the world around him reacts to his actions? How do we prevent the player from thinking that the game is scripted, on rails, and that it is the DM or computer who acts by throwing obstacles in the way of the character, and the character who is limited to reacting to those events?

The problem is most often presented as a difference between a linear story game and a sandbox game. However that is a false dichotomy. There are a lot of sandbox games in which player choice is an illusion, or where the player has the choice between irrelevant options like where to go, while the actually relevant events are scripted. On the other side a game that tells a story can actually have branches in the story and provide quite a lot of meaningful choices and decisions.

I recently had a problem with lack of player agency in a D&D game in which I am a player. The adventure is a WotC published one, Out of the Abyss. And because sandbox gaming is so popular, many of the WotC published adventures are presented in sandbox format. You have chapters after chapters describing locations and NPCs, but there is no written storyline. The idea is for the DM and the players to create the story together, but it is clear how that is somewhat illusory: One way or another the players end up going through the various locations presented. From one group to another the details and order of the encounters might change, but at the end of the day different groups playing through the same sandbox adventure will have similar experiences. In this particular case the DM didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, and thus ended up trying to present the encounters on the fly as we played. And somewhere in the process the story got lost, and we were just stumbling through the Underdark, getting hit by one unpleasant encounter after the other, while not knowing what actually our goal was or how to achieve it. So we really were in the situation of the world acting upon us, and us simply reacting. And with things not always going well, and the DM being fond of a gruesome narrative style of dark fantasy, at the end I felt more like a victim than like a hero.

Now the challenge for me is to run the D&D campaigns in which I am the DM in a way that this doesn’t happen. I do want the players to be the agents of the story, it should be them who drive the story forward and make the choices. However although both campaigns are presented as sandboxes, a lot of events that will happen are rather predictable. There are a lot of dungeons with rooms that contain monsters which aren’t likely to be open to negotiation. Open door, kill monster, loot treasure is the most likely sequence of events. It is hard to imagine Dungeons & Dragons without the dungeons that make up half of the name, but dungeons by their very nature aren’t all that much “sandbox”. They might not be linear, but the walls generally limit where adventurers can go. So dungeons are easily perceived as being “on rails”.

On the positive side players tend to enjoy a good dungeon romp more than they enjoy being in the middle of a sandbox without a goal. Too much guidance by a DM can be a problem, but not enough guidance can be a far more serious problem. Even in an old school hex crawl it is better if the players know towards what destination they are heading, and why.

Galaxy S8’s fourth Android Oreo beta disables use of third-party docks with Samsung DeX

The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus might be more known for their near bezel-less designs, but one feature that isn’t nearly as talked about is Samsung DeX, which turns the phone into pseudo-desktops. Unfortunately for those who found the feature useful, the fourth Android Oreo beta prevents it from working with third-party docks.

According to XDA Developers, users are reporting that, when they connect their devices to third-party docks, Samsung DeX no longer pops up. Instead, connecting their Samsung smartphones to these docks only mirrors the smartphone display.

This is an interesting change, seeing how using Samsung‘s official DeX dock was not the only way to get the feature up and running. For example, back in September, someone turned a 2008 MacBook Pro into an almost fully-functional DeX laptop. Also, folks found out that they could connect the Galaxy S8 to the HP Elitebook X3, which was made to work with HP’s Elite X3 smartphone, and have Samsung DeX work just fine.

Editor’s Pick

It’s a somewhat depressing move on Samsung’s part, seeing how the company has also prevented folks from remapping the Bixby button. I understand that Samsung wants to sell as many DeX docks as possible, but if you want as many people as possible use the feature, why hinder the ability to do so?

XDA Developers brings up the point that Huawei’s Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro offer a DeX-like feature of their own, except that the phones do not require the use of a dock to make it work — all you need is a USB 3.1 Type-C cable. Maybe we’ll get to the point where Samsung doesn’t require a dock to have DeX work, but until then, I will continue to frown.

Of course, Samsung can change its mind once the final Android Oreo release rolls around, though we’ll keep an eye out if that’s the case.

Do you use Samsung DeX with your Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, or Note 8? If you do, do you find the feature useful? Let us know in the comments below.

Confessions of a Killer Cop

John Tennis breaks his silence after being fired for fatal encounter with Joseph Mann.

Dressed in a faded Superman t-shirt that flatters his muscular torso, John Tennis points out the spot where he and his partner shot and killed Joseph Mann on a steamy summer morning last year.

It’s a crisp day in December along a resilient commercial stretch of North Sacramento, where unassuming bars and barbershops reside under washed-out signs, but Tennis tugs at his collar like a man who’s feeling the heat.

For more than a quarter of a century, Tennis patrolled this neighborhood for the Sacramento Police Department. In October, his career ended ignominiously. The 56-year-old former patrolman revealed last month to SN&R that he was fired following an internal affairs investigation into the fatal shooting of Mann, who was armed with a knife, rumored to have a gun and reported to be acting strangely in front of a nearby apartment complex.

The July 11, 2016, shooting—and the ensuing release of police video—plunged Tennis and partner Randy Lozoya into the scalding national debate about deadly law enforcement encounters caught on tape.

For perhaps the first time since Ferguson exploded more than three years ago, one of those officers is crossing the thin blue line to tell his side of the story.

After their colleagues spent long minutes avoiding a confrontation with the agitated Mann, Tennis and Lozoya swooped in with lethal decisiveness. In a span of 44 seconds, they attempted to strike Mann with their patrol vehicle twice, hoofed across the boulevard and put 14 bullets into the mentally troubled 50-year-old.

Despite his taste in t-shirts, Tennis dismisses the notion that he has a hero complex. He says he and his partner did what needed to be done.

“We don’t get trained to just follow someone at a safe distance and not act,” he says. “That’s the problem that went on for five minutes. And I didn’t get there and go, ’Oh, I’m gonna end this.’ I got there in absolute fear that something tragic was going to happen.”

Something tragic did happen, say Mann’s siblings.

“You just jump out of your car and unload on him—that’s unacceptable,” says brother Robert Mann. “That’s not protecting and serving our community.”

The forces that put John Tennis and Joseph Mann in each other’s path began a long time ago. Close in age, both men grew up in Sacramento around the same time. They both spun contented childhoods into careers in criminal justice. Both led lives interrupted by substance abuse and personal bedevilments. Both sought help from the system.

One of them got it. The other was Joseph Mann.

Seated at a conference table inside SN&R, a couple blocks from where he and Mann met, Tennis rubs his dry palms together and takes a drag of recirculated air. He doesn’t know what he’s doing here, he says. A cop talking to the press about a fatal shooting, one that’s still being litigated, his lawyer will probably have his head. But he feels the need to unburden himself.

“I’m not this beast that I’m made out to be,” Tennis says.

Joseph Mann’s loved ones say the same thing about Joe.

‘In the midst of chaos’

Sliding on his belly in the wet grass, John Tennis lay head to head with the man he was trying to choke into submission. Tennis didn’t know the man was a suspected car thief, or why he had rabbited from East Del Paso Heights, leading officers on a reckless, high-speed pursuit to an apartment complex a few miles away. He wouldn’t learn the suspect’s name until after he was dead: Albert Thiel. Black male. Age 35.

It was September 1997.

For the 36-year-old officer, the fatal encounter with Thiel would become a signature event. Here was a suspect high on drugs. Here were Tennis’ fellow officers, in his mind, unable to contain a scary situation. And here was Tennis coming to the rescue.

John Tennis didn’t always want to be a cop. The second son of a postal carrier and a homemaker, Tennis came up middle-class in the suburbs of North Sacramento and then Carmichael. He remembers cowboy matinees in East Sacramento at the old Alhambra Theatre, a chalk-pink Spanish cathedral of a movie house with a scarlet marquee and matching red carpet; solo bike rides to Citrus Heights, before it was a city, to stare at the pit of dirt that became Sunrise Mall; and, when he had his own wheels, getting pulled over more times than he’d care to admit.

“I didn’t really like cops because I got stopped a lot when I was a kid,” Tennis shrugs. “I was one of them guys driving around too fast.”

Tennis ran track at Hiram Johnson High School, but was an unenthusiastic student, he says. So one day, at the age of 18, he strode into an Army recruiter’s office and enlisted. “I told the recruiter, ’Send me as far away from Sacramento as you can,’” Tennis remembers. “He said, ’How about Italy?’ I said, ’That works.’”

The only people Tennis told of his decision were his folks, he says.

Tennis says he deployed with a paratrooper unit in 1980 to Vincenzo, Italy, his home base for the next four years. (A Pentagon official referred a request for Tennis’ military records to the National Archives and Records Administration.) A peacetime soldier, Tennis says he spent his tour skipping around Europe and the USSR during the dreg days of the Cold War, as only an American could. When Army intelligence warned him the Russians would read his mail and have him tailed once he was in their territory, Tennis started slipping pictures of Mao Zedong into correspondences written to “comrade” this and “comrade” that, he says.

On the eastern side of the Berlin Wall, he recalls, he lost count of the bullet holes pockmarking the buildings. In Budapest, he says, he unsuccessfully tried to train with Soviet soldiers. He became enchanted with communist-controlled Hungary and Yugoslavia, where he remembers a woman on a train warning him of a coming war. Why, he asked. Everyone here hates everyone else, she told him.

When Tennis returned stateside, he confronted an old quandary—what now? He had an associate’s degree, but didn’t see the point in more studying. He considered becoming a firefighter, but someone told him he was good with people and pointed him toward law enforcement.

“I truly believe in making the world a better place, as corny as that sounds,” he says. “I didn’t think I’d get hired, to tell you the truth. But I just don’t like seeing people get victimized.”

Sandy-haired with a rigid jaw and a raspy voice that he says he got from entering a burning house years ago, Tennis is the Type A sort of person the Police Department used to court, says Officer James Walker.

Like Tennis, Walker has spent nearly three decades as a patrolman with Sac PD. He started shortly before Tennis and has known him his entire career. “Working with John off and on over the years, I always thought he was a great officer—fair and just and morally grounded,” Walker says. “From what I know of him, he’s not a bad guy.”

Average in height, Tennis is hewn like an ox thanks to an exacting workout regimen, with a widescreen chest and knotted biceps and calves. Walker says that physicality makes Tennis good in a scrap, but that he prefers to listen, like that time they responded to a family row and Tennis let everyone air their grievances. “John would let people talk,” Walker says.

Noting Tennis’ black ex-wife and his four biracial children, Walker adds: “He might look like a poster child for Germany in the 1940s, but he’s not.”

But Walker can’t deny his former colleague’s propensity for finding himself in the middle of violent confrontations. Walker is careful to note that he doesn’t think Tennis sought out trouble. If anything, Walker says, Tennis is a victim of his devotion to tough, disadvantaged neighborhoods.

“I’d describe it this way: There are those officers, they just have this crazy habit of being in the wrong place at the right time,” he says. “John chose to be in the midst of the chaos.”

‘He left the world’

Vernadine Murphy Mann already knew who was ringing her bell when she answered the door. No one else had a talent for materializing out of thin air like her baby brother.

“Hey sis. I’m here,” Joseph Mann said plainly.

Joe looked a little rough around the edges. He needed a shave. His rumpled clothes begged for a dance with the spin cycle.

Vern stifled her joy and let her brother inside. How long had he been gone this time? She would fix him up. A hot meal and a warm bath, just like when they were kids and their mom deputized Vern, the oldest, to co-parent Joe, the youngest.

“With my brother Joe, it was maternal,” Vern says of their relationship. “I felt like he was my baby.”

But she knew not to smother. Joe needed to get into the garage first, to visit his suitcase, the one that held his papers, some clothes, and the old photographs that reminded him who he was.

Around the same time that John Tennis was asking the Army to ship him out of Sacramento, the Mann family was on its way here.

Wanting a fresh start in a new town, William Mann accepted an offer to join his insurance firm’s expansion west. In 1979, the Mann family made the cross-country exodus from Newburg, New York—a broken-asphalt burg with a backroom-dealing reputation—to Sacramento—a sleepy government town ringed by sleepier suburbs and sweeping, undeveloped land.

It proved a rough transition.

Their second week in Sacramento, a neighbor in their apartment building fell asleep with a lit cigarette between his fingers. The entire complex—and everything the Manns owned—turned to a heap of ash and cinder on the corner of 13th and G streets.

“We started with nothing,” says Robert Mann, who, like Joe, was in his early teens at the time. “That was just something that was the first challenge.”

Separated by two years, Robert and Joe navigated the early challenges together. Their three older siblings were all grown and living adult lives. Because they were so close in age, Robert and Joe were given a nickname by the first wave of Mann children. “We called them ’stair steps,’” Vern says.

The brothers remained tight after their parents separated and Joe moved with his mother to Stockton to finish up high school. If the split phased him, Joe didn’t show it. He flourished as a popular upperclassman at the largely white and Latino Tokay High School in Lodi, a small agricultural town a half-hour drive north.

“Most of his girlfriends [were] white,” Robert chuckles. “He was a ladies’ man, that’s for sure.”

“Joe was a people person,” is how Vern puts it. “And he saw the good in everybody.”

He also cultivated eclectic tastes. After graduating Tokay in 1983, he attended the University of the Pacific, where he spun jazz, rock and classical records as a college deejay called “The Character,” Robert says. When Vern was preparing to start a home-based childcare business, Joe drew up the interior design plans. He loved classic cars, discussing politics and giving unsolicited stock tips, Robert says.

Joe was also ambitious, his siblings say.

While working as a checker at the Raley’s supermarket on Mack Road, Joe attended night school at local community colleges in Sacramento, eventually getting associates degrees in business and communications, Robert says. In 2001, Joe landed a position with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, where he worked as an office technician for the next five-and-a-half years, a CDCR spokesman confirmed.

These were the salad days for Joe, and he enjoyed them a little too much, Robert says.

Thanks to a savvy home sale two years before the housing bubble popped, Joe was rolling in disposable income. He had a dashing Datsun 280ZX coupe and a new girlfriend who liked to travel—and to use narcotics.

“She pulled him in,” Robert claims. “When you have an addiction and all this money in the bank, it doesn’t end well.”

The family was slow to learn of Joe’s drug habit. A 2010 conviction for driving under the influence tipped them off. When Joe was forced to take a leave of absence from work, they knew something larger was at play.

In his time of need, Joe went to be with the one person he was closest to—his mom.

Robert says Joe moved to Georgia knowing their aging mother didn’t have much time. For her part, Lucille Mann knew her youngest was struggling. In their separate ways, Joe and Lucille tried to keep each other tethered to the world for a while longer.

“They were super close,” Robert says. “She was his whole world and he was her baby. And one thing I know is a mother’s love for her son is unconditional. No matter what he was experiencing or going through, she supported him. That’s just the way mothers are.”

When Lucille died in 2011 at the age of 72, Joe returned to Sacramento. But something in him had been set adrift, his family members say. He couldn’t see his way back to shore. Nor could he conjure a purpose for trying to find a way back.

“After my mom passed, he felt like he didn’t have that sense that everything was so important anymore,” Robert observes. “He left the world of the good community, so to speak, and got caught up in that other community.”

Joe’s drug use deepened. His absences from the family grew. Vern couldn’t abide them. She’d get in her car and drive around aimlessly, hoping to lay eyes on her brother. Nearly a decade apart in age, Vern hoped their special bond would act as a homing beacon. In a roundabout way, it did. She didn’t always know where to find Joe, but he’d eventually turn up on her doorstep.

“I feel he was coming just to let me know he was OK,” Vern says. “Sometimes I miss that.”

Two weeks before his death, Joe followed Vern into the garage and knelt down before his private time capsule. He popped the latches on his old suitcase and found the waxy celluloid reminders: Of him, primped for prom in a white tux, or standing shoulder to shoulder with Robert, or clasping his doting mother. In each photograph, that thousand-watt smile and the world on a string.

Joe felt his sister standing there. There was still time. He closed the suitcase and went inside.

‘Don’t go for my gun’

The county coroner determined that Albert Thiel asphyxiated as a result of blunt force trauma to his neck. Specifically, the thyroid cartilage on the left side of his throat had been fractured, causing hemorrhaging that partially blocked his airway.

“I said, ’That was probably me,’ because I was the one holding him down,” Tennis says now.

That admission never became part of the public record.

In absolving Tennis and other officers of criminal wrongdoing, the district attorney’s office said it wasn’t clear what caused the fatal injury, attributing it to a likely “misadventure.” The DA’s report also determined that Tennis may have rescued his fellow officers from an uncertain fate by grappling with Thiel­­, who was high on crack cocaine and listed as more than 200 pounds on a 5-foot-8 frame.

“Thiel was a big and powerful man and officers could be injured or worse if they were not successful in apprehending Thiel,” the report stated. “It was entirely reasonable for Tennis … to apprehend Thiel by trying to control the only part of Thiel’s body available to him, the head and neck.”

Thiel’s family filed a complaint that went to mediation, Tennis says. He says Thiel’s mother asked the officers to show her what happened to her son. Inside of a conference room, Tennis says he complied.

“We went down on the ground and showed her everything,” Tennis says. “My attorney decided to pay, whatever, $50,000 I think.”

A few years later, Tennis was involved in more critical incidents.

In 2000, he was sued for using excessive force during the arrest of a sex offender, court records show. The plaintiff’s attorney previously told SN&R he believed the case ended in a settlement, but didn’t recall the details.

That same year, Tennis says, he and another officer responded at night to a weapons call involving a man who had allegedly told a friend he wanted to kill a cop. At Branch Street and Harris Avenue, in a neighborhood of hunched roofs and chain-link fences, Tennis says, he spotted a male subject loading a gun near the side of a home.

“I think I said something like, ’Freeze motherfucker,’” Tennis recalls. “He saw me. He started running.”

Tennis says he gave chase across a couple of residential blocks. He lost sight as the suspect scampered down a dark driveway. As Tennis rounded a parked car, he says, he saw the suspect about to clear a low fence.

“He’s coming up and spinning around with a gun in his hand and I fire six rounds off-handed. I hit him a couple of times and he collapses,” Tennis says. “We roll him over and he had the gun right there. He lived. I think he walks funny, I don’t know.”

Tennis says he also fired his weapon at a suspected car thief who tried to run him down earlier in his career, in the mid-1990s. He says he struck the vehicle three times, but not the suspect.

He says he considers it a “miracle” that he hasn’t been involved in more shootings, given the sector he’s worked.

“Don’t get me wrong. I got in a lot of fights up there, but it was just real,” Tennis says. “The rule is, when you fight, don’t go for my gun.”

As for why—or even whether—Tennis got fired, police Chief Daniel Hahn says he’s prevented from discussing the personnel history of his officers, even former ones. Like Tennis, Hahn patrolled Del Paso Heights as a beat cop during the 1990s. Asked if he developed an impression of Tennis in those days, he says he did but demurs when asked to share it.

Unlike Tennis, Hahn says he’s never had cause to fire his weapon at a suspect. Neither has Walker. Both Hahn and Walker say it’s common for officers to draw their guns, but rare to pull the trigger.

“Guys like John, he’s just one of those guys that … I can’t explain it,” Walker says. “The fact that John’s been involved in that many things—I certainly haven’t. And most guys in the department haven’t.”

Like other police officials contacted by SN&R, Hahn expressed surprise that Tennis was speaking publicly.

“I’ve never seen such a thing before,” says Hahn, who took over the department months after the Mann shooting. “It’s really strange.”

‘Things to do’

With their matriarch gone and their dad getting older, the Mann children responded to Joe’s struggles the only way they knew how, with all hands on deck. The siblings and their adult children took Joe into their homes for long spells. Robert joined his brother at A.A. and N.A. meetings. Inside church basements where addicts talked about yielding to a higher power, the two discussed treatment options. Joe checked himself into the county’s Mental Health Treatment Center on Stockton Boulevard, and checked out a private psychiatric facility, Heritage Oaks Hospital, on Auburn Boulevard.

Joe was trying, Robert says. But the global economy had buckled. And the options were disappearing.

In 2009, Sacramento County cut 50 psychiatric beds and pulled the plug on its only crisis-stabilization unit, a 23-hour observation unit that fielded 6,800 adult visits a year, according to a 2015 report from the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society. Local emergency rooms were suddenly flooded with 1,600 new visits a month from people with nowhere else to go for mental health care. The medical society report called the ripple effects “staggering.”

The Manns weren’t spared.

“When all these programs started disappearing, there was more time spent away from the family, more time spent wandering,” Robert says.

Robert knew his brother was cloaking grief and shame. He saw the mask slip enough times to know Joe felt like a fraud in his own skin. His brother sought out people who didn’t know the old him. Joe found stranded addicts, shipwrecked in their own deteriorating vessels. With them, he had only the one thing in common: A grimy crystal over a hot torch. A sour wind that greases the lungs and hotwires the synapses. The hunger that left you emptier each time you fed it.

Joe’s contacts with law enforcement mounted. He accrued six convictions in Sacramento Superior Court after his mother’s passing. Most were for petty theft or shoplifting. In 2015, he was convicted in separate cases of making criminal threats, a misdemeanor, and felony burglary, online court records show.

Robert believes that last arrest occurred when Joe sneaked into an unlocked motel room on Richards Boulevard to steal a nap.

“The few incidences where he went to jail were for small things—vagrancy, shoplifting,” Robert insists. “He was still a good dude. Even though he was struggling.”

About a week before Joe was killed, Robert found his brother at their niece’s home in South Sac. Joe was doing chores outside in the airless heat. Robert’s face stretched into a grin. He missed his brother, but put it the way men do when they show their hearts to one another.

“Hey man, why don’t you come back and hang out with me for a while?” he nudged.

Joe swept a hand across his wet forehead and laughed his raspy laugh.

“Yeah, yeah, eventually,” Joe deflected, “but I got things to do right now.”

It was the last time Robert saw his brother alive.

‘This is going to go bad’

Officers Tennis and Lozoya were wrapping up a call near Rio Linda when they first learned police were dealing with an armed subject in North Sacramento.

The veteran patrolmen had worked together often, but didn’t normally ride together. Two days earlier, in Dallas, a harrowing sniper attack killed five police officers. The ambush was sprung near the end of a rally protesting the scrutinized police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille. The piercing cracks that echoed between the tall buildings of downtown Dallas threw the city into a panic. Police used a remote-controlled bomb to kill the suspect, a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict.

Even with the Sacramento Police Department short-staffed, Tennis says, officers were told to buddy up that week in an abundance of caution. There was no escaping the nation’s shifting mood toward law enforcement’s treatment of black men, in particular. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Walter Scott. Sterling and Castille. The names of the dead kept multiplying.

It was just after 9 a.m. Monday, July 11, 2016. Tennis picked up speed, heading southwest toward the call. Another name was about to join the list.

Back on Lochbrae Road, two callers had alerted dispatchers to a man acting bizarrely, doing karate moves in front of an apartment complex and flipping a knife. The man kicked the air. He shouted strange things. He urinated on himself. One caller said he had a black gun tucked in his waistband.

“He just pulled the gun out. He just pulled the gun out,” the caller repeated. “He said, ’I am the law.’”

No gun was ever found. As far as anyone could later prove, Joseph Mann was armed with a knife in one hand and a metallic coffee mug in the other.

Tennis and Lozoya didn’t hear the 911 calls directly. The information they received was broadcast over their police band radio signal and translated onto their computer screen in bursts of text. Rumors of a martial arts background. Might have military training. Seen with a gun.

“The first thing I start thinking was, this is one of those Iraqi vets with PTSD,” Tennis says. “He’s going off. This is going to go bad.”

Tennis wasn’t a stranger to things not going according to plan.

Somewhere along the way, the rules of the job changed. The cops Tennis came up with, the rookies he trained, they climbed the ranks while he remained on patrol. Twenty-six years on the street beat, chasing calls and fielding complaints. Never your own man, always someone’s grunt.

That wasn’t by design.

Tennis says he aced his department’s SWAT tryouts in ’99 but was passed over. He’d pissed off one too many lieutenants, he says, spoken his mind too often. Maybe he’d gotten into too many fights, drawn too many complaints. Tennis says he made his peace with it. He was Sisyphus, shouldering a boulder he knew he’d never summit. He could either curse his fate or embrace it. Tennis says he chose the latter.

Del Paso Heights became his house beat. A hard neighborhood, yeah, but filled with decent, hardworking people. Tennis was there to protect them.

But time is a persistent hammer. Fashions and philosophies change. Society evolves. Chiefs come and go. Every badge loses its luster. Every pawn meets its sacrifice.

“Most people realize, when you’re out on patrol, that’s when shit’s gonna happen. That’s when you’re gonna get in trouble,” Tennis says. “You’ve got to get out of that environment. It’s not survivable.”

Tennis couldn’t take his own advice.

He was drinking too much. Like many other cops, his marriage unraveled. In 2011, the same year that Mann’s mother died, Tennis was stripped of his gun when an El Dorado County judge hit him with a temporary restraining order. Tennis’ ex-wife had accused him of domestic violence and child abuse, charges Tennis denies. The judge later lifted the restraining order and Tennis got his gun back when the department went to bat for him.

In 2013, the department ordered Tennis into treatment after he admitted to abusing alcohol. But Tennis’ career was stalled. He got tired of humping out to calls, of getting yelled at, of the filth. “I’ve been thrown up on, shit on, comed on—I’m dead serious,” he says. “It can be very disgusting.”

I ask Tennis if he ever felt burned out.

“I got tired of it,” he admits. “Because my department is very, very big on putting you in a box.”

Tennis says he learned to do things differently. He stopped running plates or pulling over suspicious vehicles. He answered his calls and went home to his kids.

“You just give them a different product,” he says. “You’re not doing things that are gonna raise an eyebrow or get you into a fight, you know what I mean? So, ’Oh, gee, you got into another one.’ It’s not me.”

In Tennis’ mind, he had changed. Hadn’t taken a drink in years. Even his mouth had mellowed. He kept a well-worn photo of his kids on him at all times and thought about how smart they were, how eager to make the world a better place. He glimpsed retirement just over the horizon and focused on coasting toward it.

Then Joseph Mann entered his field of vision.

As their car shunted down Del Paso Boulevard, Tennis and Lozoya watched a figure juke past a sergeant’s patrol SUV with an arm cocked down by his side, according to dash cam videos released last year.

“Fuck this guy,” Lozoya said.

“I’m gonna hit him,” Tennis said.

“OK, go for it. Go for it,” Lozoya said.

Their squad car swerves into a stubby crosswalk, narrowly missing Mann. Tennis stomps the brakes and peels into reverse, finding Mann standing on the sidewalk past a white-plaster compound with a gated parking lot. Tennis says his partner noticed a lady standing on a median in the middle of the street.

“He started to head towards her,” Tennis says of Mann. “Randy and I are both convinced that, if we didn’t … take his mind off what he was doing, he would have stabbed and killed her. Absolutely convinced of that.”

From the videos that the Police Department released, it appears that Mann only briefly approached the woman to escape getting hit by Tennis’ car.

After another attempt to ram Mann off his feet, the car slams to a stop at the tree-and-bush-lined median. One of the officers says, “We’ll get him.” The doors open. Mann’s momentum has carried him up a shaded sidewalk. Tennis and Lozoya briefly jog up the street parallel to Mann before closing the distance.

Tennis is a few feet ahead of Lozoya, who levels his gun first. Tennis says he’s looking for an opening to talk, but didn’t find one. He acknowledges that he didn’t give Mann any verbal commands before he opened fire.

“I really didn’t think it would have mattered at that point,” he says. “He stood there screaming at me. And when that hand came up, that’s when I shot him.”

Mann points with the knife in his hand. He points again. The third time, he buckles forward.

The cracks come in rapid succession. By the time it was done, Tennis’ sidearm had bucked eight times. Lozoya fired 10 rounds. Fourteen struck Mann, snapping into his chest, abdomen, groin, both legs and one ankle as he stooped over and crumpled to his side. Tennis says he doesn’t know who shot first but believes Lozoya fired last—a bullet that skipped off the sidewalk.

Tennis says he went over to a groaning Mann and kicked the knife away and grabbed his arm. He says he was still looking for the gun. Even though no gun was ever found, Tennis says he is convinced that Mann had one.

“He probably tossed it,” Tennis says. “People do it all the time.”

After the other officers approached, Tennis released Mann’s arm and turned around to see Lozoya on the ground with an injured leg. Tennis says his partner already had bum wheels when he dangled one outside the car as Tennis banged to a stop. Lozoya went to the hospital and Tennis went to the headquarters to speak to the union lawyer before proffering his statement.

Sitting in the dim newspaper conference room with a neglected gas station soda at his elbow, Tennis tells me that it was at the stationhouse where he learned what he and Lozoya had done.

“I was sitting there in a room and nobody was telling me how he was doing,” Tennis says.

Who, I ask.

“Joseph Mann,” he says. Tennis looks to the side and shifts his jaw. “Just give me a minute please.”

He goes on.

“They told me he was dead.”

‘A category that nobody wants to be in’

Vern says she doesn’t remember the call where her dad told her what happened to Joe. She just knows that she can no longer go inside the restaurant where she answered her phone.

“I think it’s because I mentally shut down. I know it is, because you told me my baby brother is …” she says, not completing the thought. “This is a category that nobody wants to be in. And it’s thrust upon you.”

Robert got the next phone call. He left work and rushed to police headquarters, seeking answers to impossible questions. He says the homicide detectives unbuttoned their lips just enough to tell him what would appear in a department press release later that day: His brother came at officers with a knife. They had no choice, so they shot him multiple times.

Joseph Mann was responsible for his own demise.

The explanation infuriated Robert.

“I know that’s not my brother. My brother doesn’t carry guns. My brother doesn’t act erratic. My brother doesn’t harm anybody. Because I’ve been with my brother all 50 years of my life. I know who my brother is,” he says. “It was heartbreaking to me, because my first instinct was to act a fool.”

Instead, Robert promised the detectives he would get to the bottom of things and left the station. Inside his car, his body shook without his permission.

A few days later, a bystander’s cellphone recording surfaced. Then the Sacramento Bee got hold of the business surveillance video showing the actual shooting. Together, they contradicted aspects of the official account. Joseph Mann appeared to be the hunted instead of the hunter.

Under mounting community pressure, the Police Department made the unprecedented decision to release a trove of internal recordings documenting the incident. SN&R was the first to report that Tennis and Lozoya tried to run Mann over before shooting him. Mann’s story drew national attention. It joined a blossoming chronicle of questionable law enforcement killings. Tennis says he and Lozoya received “legitimate death threats” that caused their department to assign officers outside their homes.

The repercussions came in slow waves. The police chief announced his retirement at the end of 2016. This January, the City Council passed a slate of accountability measures for the Police Department, instituting a video-release policy and creating a community-staffed police commission. A month later, the city settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Joseph Mann’s father for a little over $700,000.

But the Mann family wasn’t satisfied.

“They kind of pressured my dad into taking the little money that they gave him to try to close out the case as quickly as possible,” Robert says. “I was still upset, because I felt like nothing really had been accomplished. So what, you gave my dad a few dollars. But what about the accountability?”

Behind the scenes, the Police Department was exploring a similar question.

In October 2016, Tennis says, Internal Affairs opened its investigation into the Mann shooting. Tennis claims the three-month gap between the shooting and the start of the I.A. inquiry is unprecedented and shows that the department was politically motivated to get rid of him and Lozoya.

Chief Hahn says there’s nothing unusual about the time frame, since I.A. only begins its work after the criminal investigation and an administrative use-of-force review are completed. “We want them to have all the evidence,” he says.

When the ax started to swing over the summer, Tennis says it became a race for him and Lozoya to medically retire from duty before the department fired them. Lozoya with his bad legs crossed the finish line; Tennis with his respiratory problems didn’t.

Tennis was already under the pall of a separate I.A. investigation, he says. Four months before the Mann shooting, Tennis says, he accidentally struck a 15-year-old assault suspect and a fellow officer with his patrol vehicle out by Grant High School.

“Never happened before,” Tennis says. “And then some other things happened. Obviously I can’t go into that.”

All Tennis will say is that those other things—and not the collision—are what prompted his sergeant to file an internal affairs complaint against him. When a commanding officer files a complaint against an officer, it has a better chance of being substantiated than one coming from a civilian. It’s what cops refer to as getting “blue-sheeted.”

“It was kind of an extreme call and there were some issues,” Tennis acknowledges. “I knew it was going to go somewhere. … When you’re blue-sheeted by a supervisor, you’re not gonna win.”

After Mann’s death, however, Tennis says I.A. revised the complaint to say he had a pattern of hitting suspects with his car. Tennis says he was suspended for a month without pay. When he returned to duty at the end of May, Tennis says, he was called into his supervisor’s office. “I said, ’Oh, you’re going to fire me today, aren’t you?’”

Two officers Tennis says he knew escorted him to the internal affairs office. He glanced down at their hips. Had they always worn their guns inside the station? Then he noticed how they were pacing slightly behind and flanking him, in what’s called a bladed stance, which officers employ when dealing with subjects of volatile intent. Tennis told his fellow cops they didn’t have to treat him this way.

“Do you honestly believe I’m gonna go postal?” he says he told them. “I got four kids.”

In I.A., he was stripped of his badge and placed on administrative leave, a precursor to his termination. Then the two officers walked Tennis out of the station and off the premises.

“And that was the end of that. It was pretty humiliating,” Tennis says. “It’s literally being treated like a criminal.”

This past October, the Police Department announced that Tennis and Lozoya were no longer employed by the agency. Citing a California law concerning peace officers’ personnel records, Hahn says he is prohibited from providing additional details.

That hasn’t stopped Tennis from making the unusual decision to share some of those details himself.

Tennis discloses that the official grounds for his termination were that he violated the Police Department’s general orders regarding use of force, discharging a firearm, professional conduct and the agency’s code of ethics—“whatever that means.”

“Basically the department said I had no reason to do anything I did,” he says. “I had no reason to get out of my car. I had no reason to approach him. No one was in danger. The public wasn’t in danger. Officers weren’t in danger.”

Looking down at his termination letter, Tennis reads the following: “’Use of force was not necessary for self defense, [to] affect an arrest, prevent his escape or overcome his resistance.’” He looks up. “So what they’re saying is that I was 100 percent wrong, according to the general orders,” he says.

If that’s the case, Tennis says he should be charged with a crime.

“Am I a murderer? Or am I not a murderer?”

In June, the surviving Mann siblings hired local civil rights attorney Mark Merin, who filed a new federal lawsuit seeking not money but answers. The city tried to argue that Joe’s two brothers and two sisters don’t have the same legal standing that their father did to sue. In September, the judge ruled that they do. The city is appealing that decision.

“That’s where we are,” Merin says.

Somewhere in there, Thanksgiving arrived. What was left of the Mann family gathered around an incomplete table, broke bread and muddled through.

“Him being gone right now, it’s like there’s a hole,” Vern says. “There’s a spot gone right now. That’s Joe. Joe’s missing.”

Seventeen months after his brother’s death, Robert says his family has no intention of stopping its crusade until Tennis and Lozoya face criminal charges.

“From the very beginning, it was never about money,” he says. “I want them to be held accountable. I want them to be prosecuted. I’m not going to stop until they’re prosecuted.”

Tennis makes a very different promise to his former employer.

“I told them I am not going out the backdoor with your boot in my ass. I’m leaving the front door like I’ve earned,” he says of his employment claim against the department. “Because I hate to say this, but this is going to cost a lot of money. I’m going to get my job back.”

Like it has done in every similar case for more than 30 years, the Sacramento County district attorney’s office ruled the officer-involved shooting a clean one. Tennis is free from criminal prosecution, but feels a prisoner of his tarnished reputation. His parents, who are in their 80s, canceled Christmas this year due to the enduring scrutiny over what their son did one summer morning a year ago.

“They kind of had a breakdown over this,” he says. “That’s the kind of stuff that really upsets me.”

The job and its bleak visions have always provided ample stress, but Tennis finds the dark moods gathering more frequently now. He gets mad at what he hears about himself on the television. He feels discarded by his department, and embittered that his name is now associated with all those reckless, rash and abusive cops who throw their cities into sorrow-stricken turmoil.

Tennis refuses to see himself as one of them. “I live for my children,” he says. “They’re trying to throw me in the same boat as those [shootings] you see that are bad, that anger me.”

All those shifts spent in emergency rooms waiting with the despondent and mentally ill. All those times he’s gotten suspects McDonald’s before taking them to jail. All those uneventful contacts where nobody went to jail.

And this is what he’ll be remembered for.

Every once in a while, out in the world, Tennis says, he gets “the look.”

He shrugs his long, slanted shoulders. He’s nursing a slight limp, the result, he says, of doing weighted sprints up the stairs of the Westfield Galleria at Roseville. He dismisses the injury and underlines it at the same time. It’s nothing, he says. He was pushing himself too hard, exhausting his body in the hopes of quieting his mind. Nightmares, he says. Gasping lungs, he says. Phantom thoughts haunt his sleep. A coffin darkens his heart. He flashes a thin smile. It’s nothing, he says again.

Temporarily unburdened of his grievances, Tennis walks a little stiffly to the door. I ask him one more question before he leaves. I ask him what he would say to Joseph Mann’s family.

Tennis says he actually offered to meet with them right after the shooting, to show them he was a regular guy, a dad. The lawyers scuttled that idea. He says he wishes them peace, and a passage through their grief and anger.

“I know when you lose a kid, you never get over that,” he says. “I know it’s a goddamned shame when you have a kid murdered—”

Tennis stops and resets himself: “… killed by the cops.”

It’s a momentary gaffe. An unfortunate mistake. The story of John Tennis is full of them.



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