Documents in the civil case against San Diego Police Officer Neal Browder reveal how the city disciplined him and evaluated his performance after shooting and killing an unarmed, mentally ill man last year: not at all.
In a sworn deposition in the civil case brought by Fridoon Rawshan Nehad’s family, obtained by Voice of San Diego, Browder said he did not face any discipline from the shooting. He was put on administrative duty – working at a desk instead of on patrol – for a few weeks, but was back on patrol within a month of the shooting, Browder said in the deposition.
He did not undergo any additional training or receive any written reprimand. None of his supervisors told him he had made any tactical mistakes. It didn’t even come up in his performance review for that year.
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to prosecute Browder last year, saying he was justified in fearing for his life at the time he shot Nehad, 42.
Dumanis’ decision not to prosecute was unsurprising: Prosecutors face a high bar for charging officers who shoot in the line of duty, and Browder had been back on duty for months by the time Dumanis made her decision. He was back on patrol within a few weeks of the shooting, according to his deposition.
Browder also said that he was never interviewed by anyone in the district attorney’s office, or anyone in internal affairs, although both offices investigated the incident. The documents do not say whether internal affairs completed its review, and SDPD said it won’t respond to questions because of the pending litigation. The city attorney’s office directed all inquiries to SDPD.
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I'm assuming that the "fear for your life" defense is the get-out-of-jail-free card for officer involved shootings. If that is the case might be time to change the standards for justification. Justifying what you do, based on a feeling, does not work for anyone one else in American society. Imagine; "I felt like by girlfriend was going to kill me, so I shot her". Or," I feared for my life when I was pulled over in a traffic stop so I shot the officer". The law changes based on your feelings; Really?, Not for most people, but for cops, evidently they need their feelings validated.
What seems clear is an Armed Officer, in a black and white,
with lots of help on the way, should not "fear for his life". I would totally buy that he accidentally
discharged his firearm. I also understand that would not play well in his
review. I understand, but I don't like a
system that encourages officers to change their stories.
At the very least what I see overall is either very lax or inadequate training. Also maybe a tendency on various officers parts to panic?
Coming to think of it, it's too bad real life tests can't be made to help train (as opposed to like role-playing a situation).
A mystery shopper type deal.
It can be an extremely stressful job, the uncertainty of every situation you encounter adds to the complexity exponentially. Unfortunately politics, ego, desire to help, etc., all play into these tragic situations. But until you've walked in "their" shoes we can only speculate. To a certain extent I've seen both sides of that equation, I can only hope we come together to address this ever worsening situation. And to add to that mental illness is a very large part of why these interactions become fatal. Just my two cents.
Here is my rant for America, which includes San Diego. Zero Tolerance for Police Brutality. We need an independent civilian police review board with the power to indict. Police have been militarized and think of citizens as a foreign enemy which must be killed or subdued with unnecessary violence. We need better training to reverse that kind of thinking. We need Police Chiefs who will make ordinary cops into good police officers, and get rid of the undesirables. We need to end institutional racism starting with Police Chiefs and Mayors. The practice of "shoot first and then no problem" must end.
DOJ released its report recommending additional oversight and accountability in March last year. At the time, Zimmerman announced that many of the recommendations had already been implemented, and the rest would be soon. Browder killed Nehad in April, without turning on his camera.
I guess the accountability recommendation has not yet been implemented.