Judge OKs Releasing Video Of SDPD Shooting, Gives Time To Appeal
Our top story in Midday Edition. If no appeal is filed in the next week, San Diego's will be able to see videos of a fatal police shooting that one viewer has described as shocking and unprovoked. Yesterday to start court judge ruled that the family of the victim Fridoon Rawshan Nehad be allowed to release footage from a surveillance camera that captured the incident in the midway district last April. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has already said officer who shot and killed the hot will not be prosecuted because he was justified in feeling threatened by the unarmed mentally ill man. Earlier this week fourth of San Diego reporter Liam Dillon published a lengthy interview with family of Fridoon Rawshan Nehad and he joins us now. Liam welcome to the program. Synecdoche for having me. For doing the hard STAT could have remained out of the headlines. Another sad story about a mentally ill man who ended up on the wrong side of the gun. Except for the persistence of his family. Tell us about his family. His family like cam are a group of Afghan he refugees. They left Afghanistan during the war in the late 80s and early 90s involved in the Soviet Union and the Soviet incursion to Afghanistan and for doing was drafted into the Army. He was ultimately captured by the Dean forces at the time and we can talk about that in greater detail. Once he was able to escape, his family smuggled him out of the country and the family left Afghanistan shortly after. Freaking went to Germany and the family went to the states and eventually settled in San Diego in 2013. For doom came to the US -- How big is his family? Very large. Has a number sisters. So he was 42 at the time of his death but he had this life full of peril beforehand that you alluded to when he was in Afghanistan. He was actually taken hostage at one time. That is correct. He was drafted as a teenager into the Afghan army to fight the rebels. He was at one point captured by their forces. His parents and family did not know where he was. His dad would check the morgues and list of dead because they believe that -- to see what that had happened to their son. Ultimately they received word that he was being held in a prison camp. It just so happened that their neighbor was a blood relative of the leader of that particular rebel force. So for doom's mother along with the neighbor traveled into rebel held forces areas of Afghanistan to try to get him out of the camp and this was after roughly a week or a bit longer in captivity. His mother walked into the camp where he was being held and sat down with the rebel either and asked for his release. Incredibly, that is what happened. In your story Liam, it is mentioned several times that Fridoon never told anyone what had happened to him . Either when he was in captivity or during his journey out into a refugee camp and onto Germany before he was able to reunite with his family in the United States. Does the family make a lot of that when it comes to the problems that he had later in his life? The family did not know when Fridoon arrived to the United States. They did not know that he had any concerns or problems with mental illness. Is no they learned later that he had at least one or multiple Epps says while he was living in Germany. They believed that the trauma he suffered in the prison camp or getting out of the -- Afghanistan contributed greatly to the exacerbating the bipolar disorder. They told he was diagnosed with. Did they tell you that he could be threatening to them? Absolutely. And this is something that the part of her reasons for not prosecuting the officer who was involved in the shooting, when he had a episode which would last as long as oars frequently as six months. A very long time. He would be threatening to the family members. One example they gave is he would offer him the family would offer him a banana and he believed that banana was poisoned. After while he was having these episodes. They felt that he felt there was no one on his side. He lashed out as a result of that. Was he on any kind of medication? They told me that he tried over number of years different times of medication different times of home remedies and they were hoping those would help. The said he was taking his situation seriously but ultimately nothing at the end would were able to stop these episodes he was having or even control them to the point that he would not be wandering around which is what he was doing that night. In the article in voice of San Diego, Liam that you have written, the sisters of Fridoon me hot and his mother talk about the fact that this family in the United States has been very successful. They lead to the fact that the other sisters are doctors, lawyers. So how did the family cope with these episodes that were manifested by their older brother. It sounds like it was just very much kind of an all hands on deck. The described it to me as a battle. These things have happened and he would have these six-month periods where he would be in a manic state and it was uncontrollable. Than he would have a year or two years and in some cases even three years where he was totally fine. They tried to help him with doctors visits and things like that when he was having manic episodes. They didn't know where he was. Sometimes he does call and figure out where he was. And try to secure a hotel room or motel rooms near where he was so that he would sleep. What they were told is that sleep would be one thing that could help him during these episodes. That something that tended to be awake all night and things like that. Was he living on the street at the time of his death? It's a difficult question. The definition of homelessness is difficult. Certainly the District Attorney and others have said a number of times that he was homeless. At the time of his death, his family says that he was living in the house in their house but when he would go off on these manic episode to just wander. Water for days at a time. Sort of -- they described it as he really loved the lights because the city lights of San Diego -- he did not feel alone even though people left him alone. So on the one hand, yes there was a family that wanted him to be around them. But when he was having a manic episode it was hard for them to be around. In the days and weeks before his death, his mother had filed a restraining order against him. And the house because some of the threatening actions that he was taking. What they told me about that is Fridoon was trying to get into treatment center in Oceanside. One of the requirements for that is that you did not have a fixed address. If the restore -- restraining order were to be in place he would be allowed to go back to the house which would meant that he would not have a fixed address and could potentially get into the treatment center. How did the family find out about the shooting? The police came that evening. It was actually very early in the morning when the shooting took place. I believe around 1 AM in the morning.Fridoon mother told me that around 12 the officers called them and asked them to come by their house. They did and they told them around the table -- told them the shooting occurred. The police department kept saying to them, as you report, that they wanted to avoid protest and they did not get much information. That is what they told you. Yes. This is a very interesting situation. Just to clear the record, I have asked the police department if they wanted to speak to some of the things of the family said about the interactions the police have declined comment. I've not been able to verify this stuff with the department. With the family said the department did is they kept telling them as they were asking for basic information, where's my brother, where what hospitals he and? Was my brother armed? Why did this happen? The answer they kept getting is we cannot tell you very much because we are very worried about protest occurring. Given the protest that had been occurring around the country. The family's reaction was why are you so concerned about protest if you're telling us that nothing is -- nothing wrong happened or this wasn't a bad thing. On the one hand they are saying it's okay we are looking into it, on the other hand there saying we are very worried about protest. That's been sort of the same reaction that the department has given for not releasing this video the shooting. And the family says the police told them that there was a surveillance video of the shooting but that they had to do to get it. The family said they learned about the video from the media. Learn about the videos existent from meat video counts. They confirmed it once that the media had reported it. That asked the police department to say hey to look at what happened. They asked a number of times. Finally the department said no. We are denying your request. The only way were going to let you to do it is if you were to sue the city. In which case you will be able to get the video through discovery. They did that and they did get the video through discovery. And the voice of San Diego KPBSsued to get access to the video to allow the Miha family to give. Yesterday a judge said yes but we have to wait a week if appeal will be filed. What you hear about the likelihood of appeals? In the city, there are two parties in action. There's the city and the officer. The officer who shot me hot. The city has said they are not going to appeal. The majority of the city Council have said publicly that they are not going to support of the an appeal. What still unknown is we have reached out to the attorney of the officer and others have as well and it is unclear with officer will do. One of the much touching things that the tran24 team family told you is how scared they were that Fridoon would not be allowed to stay in this country. That he would be returned to Afghanistan. Because they say terrible things can happen to people who are mentally ill in Afghanistan. So the idea of him staying here and having this occur to him is so tragically ironic. They wanted him to stay in the US. His legal status initially or previously had been threatened because of some of the filing outbursts because of his mental illness. They really wanted to keep him here because they were afraid of what might happen because of his mental illness if he were to return to Afghanistan. If you don't mind I will read some of what Phrygian -- Fridoon she's is a much better. That was my worst night where for my brother to die like that to be shot. We were always afraid that he was going to get deported to Afghanistan. Always told my parents that everybody was fighting tooth and nail to keep them in the country. People of mental disorders for them to be deported to Afghanistan one of the Taliban insurgents that's what they do to you. They take out a gun and shoot you. Always thought that that was going to happen in Afghanistan but never in America. To see that, I told you there were no words to describe the devastation. It was my worst nightmare nightmare coming true. We may be able to see the video released next week. That's correct. Smack everyone can read the entire interview with the family on the voice of San Diego. I believe those posted on Monday. That's correct. Liam, thank you so much.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015:
U.S. District Judge William Hayes ruled Wednesday morning that the family of Fridoon Rawshan Nehad, who was fatally shot by a San Diego police officer, can release to the public a security camera video that captured the incident on April 30.
Hayes did not order the government to release the video to the news media, which had sought it, but he said Nehad's family is no longer prohibited by the court from making it public.
The judge, however, did give time for his ruling to be appealed. The city of San Diego and a lawyer for Officer Neal Browder, who shot Nehad, both opposed making the video public and could appeal. Here is what Hayes said:
“It is further ordered that this order is stayed for seven days in order to allow any party the opportunity to file a Notice of Appeal.”
A majority of City Council members said on Wednesday they do not support an appeal. Voice of San Diego reported that council members David Alvarez, Chris Cate, Myrtle Cole, Todd Gloria and Scott Sherman opposed appealing the ruling.
Council President Sherri Lightner's office did not immediately return a call late Wednesday asking whether she would schedule a meeting to vote on an appeal.
“Absent the City Council directing us otherwise, the City Attorney’s Office has no plans to appeal,” said Gerry Braun, a spokesman for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
The lawyer for Officer Browder did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment on whether he would appeal.
The news organizations seeking the video's release are KPBS, inewsource, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 10News and Voice of San Diego.
Oral arguments were heard in federal court Tuesday on the question of publicly releasing a video of a San Diego police officer fatally shooting an unarmed man in the Midway District.
Officer Neal Browder, a 27-year law enforcement veteran, shot Fridoon Rawshan Nehad, 42, on April 30. Authorities have said that Browder feared for his life when he shot Nehad because police radio calls had said he was armed with a knife. It turned out he was waving a metallic pen, authorities said.
The officer was wearing a body camera but did not turn it on when he responded to the call in the Midway District. Shortly after the shooting, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman changed the department's policy to require officers start recording on their cameras before arriving on calls that likely would involve "an enforcement contact."
The security camera video remains under a protective order and cannot be made public without a judge's approval. Guylyn Cummins, the attorney representing the news media, asked U.S. District Judge William Hayes to vacate that order, arguing there isn't "good cause" for keeping the video sealed.
Outside the courthouse, Cummins said, "We think the camera is one neutral view of what happened that night, and the public is entitled to see it."
Attorneys representing Browder and the city of San Diego argued against releasing the video, saying the news media would use it to create "noise" that could taint an internal police investigation and prejudice a potential jury pool.
"It's premature to release it now," Deputy City Attorney Keith Phillips said. "We want to litigate this case in a court of law, not in the media."
Nehad's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in June against Browder and the city.
Last month, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced she would not file criminal charges against Browder. Based on the situation the officer encountered, Dumanis said, his "decision to shoot Mr. Nehad was reasonable and he therefore bears no criminal liability for his actions."
Cummins argued in court that the public has a clear interest in seeing how this shooting occurred, noting that videos of similar incidents — including one that captured a fatal shooting by a Chicago police officer — have been made public.
The judge said he would issue a written decision by the end of the week on whether to release the San Diego video. In addition to KPBS and inewsource, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 10News and Voice of San Diego have sued to make the video public.