SAN DIEGO – The San Diego County district attorney called a news conference Tuesday to discuss the pending release of a video showing the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by a police officer whose action was found to be justified.
San Diego police Officer Neal Browder fatally shot Fridoon Rawshan Nehad, an unarmed man with a history of mental illness, on April 30 in an alley of the commercial Midway District.
Browder, who was responding to a 911 call of a knife-wielding man, feared Nehad might stab him but it turned out that the device believed to be a knife was a metallic pen.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis last month declined to prosecute Browder, saying he reasonably feared for his life and was justified in shooting Nehad.
The shooting has drawn widespread attention in San Diego because a nearby business captured the episode on surveillance video, which it turned over to police and declined to share publicly. The city shared the video with Nehad's family, whose attorneys called it shocking and highly disturbing.
U.S. District Judge William Hays cleared the way last week for Nehad's family to release the video, which they obtained in a wrongful-death lawsuit. The judge put the order on hold until Wednesday to give the city and the police officer time to appeal.
The city and the officer opposed the video's release, saying it could taint a police investigation and the lawsuit.
The San Diego Union-Tribune, Voice of San Diego, KGTV-TV and inewsource asked the judge to allow the video to be released.
Browder, a 27-year San Diego police veteran, was wearing a department-issued body camera but it was not recording during the incident.
Nehad was raised in war-torn Afghanistan, where he was drafted into the army and captured by rebels, according to his family's claim. He was held captive for two months, until his mother successfully pleaded face-to-face with the captors to release her son.
Nehad spent 14 years in Germany and came to the United States in 2003 to rejoin his family, which had settled in San Diego. The family says he has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Nehad, a legal U.S. resident, learned languages and took computer programming classes, but his progress was marred by "manic episodes," despite his family's efforts to help him, according to the legal complaint. His sisters became U.S. citizens and have careers in medicine, law and business.