Among the parade of horribles San Diego political and law enforcement leaders said would happen if surveillance video of a disputed police shooting was released was that potential jurors would be biased against the officer by seeing the video. This, they said, would harm the officer’s right to a fair trial.

Now that the video has been made public, San Diego officials are saying the opposite: The region has plenty of available jurors.

The flip-flop comes in legal filings made in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of the deceased man, Fridoon Rawshan Nehad. Last April, San Diego police officer Neal Browder shot and killed Nehad, who was unarmed and mentally ill. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to prosecute Browder, saying the officer was right to feel threatened by Nehad’s behavior.

The city’s original argument about the potential for problems finding an impartial jury was made in a September filing, when it was trying to prevent the release of video footage showing Browder shooting Nehad.

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But a judge cleared the way for the video’s release in late December.

Now, the city is responding to an effort by lawyers from Nehad’s family to move their lawsuit out of San Diego. The lawyers for Nehad’s family say that two press conferences held by Dumanis – including one where she pre-emptively released edited video of the shooting before the judge’s order would have allowed it to happen – unfairly slammed Nehad. Dumanis’ actions, Nehad’s family says, mean potential jurors in San Diego would be biased in favor of the officer.

Nonsense, the city argues in its filing:

The location of the alleged wrong is here in San Diego and the community has an interest in resolving this dispute at home – especially since it alleges the wrong doing of a public servant.

Contrast this with what the city said in its legal filing opposing the video’s release:

The requested release will damage the interests of the City and Officer Browder in the present action, by tainting the jury. Because Plaintiffs seek punitive damages, the inflammatory effect of the release and subsequent manipulation of the evidence would be particularly damaging should the jury be called to assess such damages. As discussed above, the increased incidence of unprovoked violence against San Diego police reflects growing public animosity toward our community’s officers in general – fair or not. And members of that public, including potential jurors, have been deluged with negative media coverage regarding this particular case.

The city’s opposition to moving the case out of San Diego makes no mention of Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman’s prior stance about a tainted jury pool.

And the city did something novel to prove its point that the potential jury pool here is fine.

It paid a firm to conduct a public opinion poll about the case after the shooting video was released. The firm found that two-thirds of San Diegans hadn’t heard about Nehad’s death and overwhelmingly those that were aware of the case are neutral or positive toward the family’s lawsuit.

A hearing on the request from Nehad’s family to move the location of the case is scheduled for Jan. 11.

    This article relates to: Must Reads, Police, Public Safety

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

    DavidM subscriber

    The City that has problems fixing roads and funding pensions finds the money to hire a polling firm?

    Mayor Faulconer, paging Mayor Faulconer.  Leadership wanted!

    Lawyers who first said the jury would be tainted reverse course and decide it isn't?

    Attorney Goldsmith, paging City Attorney Goldsmith.  Intellectual honesty wanted!

    Matty Azure
    Matty Azure subscriber

    We need to put Bonnie on trial.


    1 Angry Man

    Matty Azure
    Matty Azure subscriber

    Accessory after the fact.


    CA Penal Code 32

    rhylton subscriber

    That a firm found that two-thirds of San Diegans hadn’t heard about Nehad’s death is cause for concern.  I expect that similar numbers of San Diegans do not know about the firm's survey, so there.  Since I do not know who to blame for this, other than the media, I shall resort to that. I do so for the reason that alarm bells should be ringing ( and being re-rung, by the media) concerning the cop who has killed three persons in three years.  Instead; I recall that the matter was reported by no more than 2 or 3 media outlets, and  without outrage. Perhaps meaningful comment or expressions of concern would have sufficed. There was none.

    I suppose the media considered it normal, for persons to seize knives and to disobey the particular officer in such a way, that he would always fear for his life; so much so that he would have to resort to shooting them dead (I repeat, three different people.) The fact that most police officers never draw their weapons, as the result of the need to, during their entire careers, was and is evidently of no consequence to the, largely defanged, local scribes.

    Matt Cameron
    Matt Cameron

    How much did the City pay to have this survey done?  The very nature of the survey is prejudicial!!  Only in San Diego. Didn't turn on the body camera (if true, why even bother to have them? If false, somehow the camera "malfunctioned"?).  No knife found at the scene. A 27 year veteran terrified by "something shiny". Every City Official, the "police are ALWAYS right" District Attorney, and the Chief of Police say the Officer was justified, and yet they fought tooth and nail to keep the video tape away from the public.  What was so damning?  What a lousy, lawless city. You cannot count on the sworn law officers of this city to protect the every day citizen. 

    rhylton subscriber

    @Matt Cameron if you have followed these things as closely as I have, this comes as no surprise. The City and its departments, its advocates and defenders will say and do anything; truth is no obstacle and decency no filter.

    I am trying to wrap my brain around a definition of the City of San Diego and am failing.