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San Diego D.A. releases video of fatal police shooting

San Diego County Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis with the video of the police shooting released Dec. 22.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)
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District Atty. Bonnie Dumanis on Tuesday released a copy of a video that captured the controversial fatal shooting of a man in the Midway district by a San Diego police officer April 30.

The action by Dumanis — who ruled last month that the shooting of Fridoon Rawshan Nehad by Officer Neal Browder was legally justified — came during a news conference where she also released selected materials from the investigation.

Included were a transcript and audio of police dispatch recordings and security camera video from an adult bookstore where Nehad had been minutes before the encounter. The district attorney also released body camera footage from another police officer who sprinted to Nehad as he lay bleeding.

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Dumanis said she made the materials public because the video did not provide a complete view of what happened when Nehad was shot. The San Diego Union-Tribune and other media had gone to court seeking its release.

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“The community should have the ability to weigh the video alongside other evidence,” she said.

Dumanis did not release all the materials, however. She did not provide a copy of Browder’s entire statement to investigators — a document that news organizations have also sought. “We put together everything we believe is appropriate,” she said.

Lawyers for the Nehad family said in a statement that the news conference and selective release of information were one-sided and that the shooting could have been avoided.

“She is trying to get ahead of the story,” said Louis R. “Skip” Miller. “She must be very insecure of her decision not to prosecute to go to these extreme lengths to justify the shooting.”

Nehad, 42, who suffered from mental illness and was homeless, was shot once about midnight April 30. Police had been sent to the area in response to a 911 call from a bookstore employee who said Nehad had a knife and was threatening people.

Browder, a 27-year department veteran, said he fired after Nehad ignored commands to stop and drop the knife.

Nehad did not have a knife, however. Police later said he was holding a blue pen.

Despite an exhaustive search, police never recovered a knife, but found a sheath. Footage from a security camera at another business that Dumanis released showed Nehad slipping what she said was a sheath in between a pile of sandbags.

Dumanis on Nov. 9 concluded the shooting was justified. An inquiry from the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego is underway, Dumanis said Tuesday. In a statement, U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy confirmed the shooting was under review but declined to comment further.

greg.moran@sduniontribune.com

Moran writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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