At an unprecedented press conference three days before Christmas, where she proactively released a video of the police shooting of Fridoon Nehad that she had fought hard to keep secret, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis batted away questions about why she would not also release the officer’s statement about what happened.

Media organizations, including ours, had joined together to fight for access not only to the video but to the statement.

“Why not open the entire file?” she asked, flippantly, as though that would be ridiculous.

I asked, yes, why not?


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“We’re not going to have a trial in the media,” she answered. (The officer’s statement was later released by Nehad’s family, thanks to the media’s intervention to unseal those documents.)

Scott Lewis on Politics LogoWhat Dumanis should have said was that we were not going to have a trial in the media of the officer involved in the shooting, Neal Browder. Dumanis was absolutely willing to try in the media the man who was killed.

Methodically, expertly, Dumanis laid out the many things Fridoon Nehad had done to merit his death. She even showed a video of someone else twirling a butterfly knife to help people visualize how menacing Nehad might have looked as he twirled a pen.

Even the prosecutor in Cleveland, who similarly suggested 12-year-old Tamir Rice was at fault for his own death, at least met with Rice’s family, expressed condolences, called it a tragedy and told the public it was a “perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunication.”

Dumanis acknowledged no such regret.

Not once did she say what happened was a mistake or a tragedy. She offered no hint that what happened was not the desired outcome. The only mistakes or bad actions were those of the deceased. The only problem she addressed was our society’s approach to mental illness. That was the only discussion she said the shooting and the controversial video should provoke: “how to better help the homeless who suffer from mental illness in San Diego County.”

Thus, if a mentally ill person acts threatening, brandishes what is interpreted as a knife, gets the police called on him and then approaches a responding police officer late at night at a slow pace, he should expect to be killed.

That was what I was taking away from Dumanis’s closing statement. Should anyone who does the same also should expect to be killed? I asked Dumanis that. This is the point of these discussions, no? To better understand at what point agents of the local government have the right to kill civilians.

Dumanis said every situation is different. And then she said this: “I can say one thing the public should be aware of is that if an officer says to stop, you ought to stop. If an officer says to drop the knife, you ought to drop the knife.”

There is the problem that Nehad was not carrying a knife to drop. And though the officer believed Nehad was going to stab him, it is not obvious that Nehad was still walking or that he knew the car he was approaching was an officer’s. The district attorney, recognizing the importance of proving that Nehad was in fact still walking when he was shot, showed an enhanced slide from the video to prove that he was raising a foot.

While two witnesses heard the officer command Nehad to drop “the knife” or “it,” another did not and the officer himself is unsure if he said anything.

This was Dumanis’s case. It is pretty good as an explanation for why she did not prosecute Browder for murder or manslaughter.

But she had already made that decision and explained it several weeks before.

The press conference was a follow-up intended to help people understand the whole incident. In that, it was horribly inadequate. Dumanis was so determined to prove her decision not to prosecute Browder was correct that she didn’t bother to acknowledge even the possibility that something had gone wrong.

Nehad’s family said it was just a “continued attempt to demonize Fridoon.” And they were right. We’ve heard about everything wrong with Nehad — his previous run-ins, his drug use, his mental health. The press conference served no purpose but to plaster him as deserving of what he got.

If that was not the purpose, then it should have included something more. Unless you’re willing to say that Nehad should have died and that this was the expected, desired outcome of the encounter between him and Browder, then you have to admit something went wrong and discuss it.

That’s the conversation Dumanis was not willing to have. It is not one San Diego’s mayor and police chief apparently want to have either. They did everything they could to avoid it — to hide the video as though we were not mature enough to handle it.

They know that if they can just prove Nehad was dangerous and not part of “us” then we won’t be worried. We survive on the myth that as long as we don’t do drugs, don’t stroll through dark alleys behind adult book stores and aren’t mentally ill, we will not encounter police officers and therefore don’t have to worry about their trigger fingers.

But Nehad’s family is just as removed from those things as anyone else. They are successful, intelligent people who, like many others, could not just cage a brother and son who was mentally ill. How many of us have friends and family members who descend into addiction, lose their homes or their minds?

A fellow police officer accused Nehad’s family of just wanting a payday. But again, unless you think this was the expected and ideal outcome of the encounter between a government law enforcement officer and a sick civilian late at night, Nehad’s family is the only one trying to expose what went wrong and hold people accountable for it.

And something did go wrong. We have to be more comfortable exploring what it was.

    This article relates to: Bonnie Dumanis, Must Reads, Police Misconduct, Public Safety

    Written by Scott Lewis

    I'm Scott Lewis, the editor in chief of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it's a blast!): @vosdscott.

    56 comments
    John H Borja
    John H Borja subscriber

    The problem with our police has far less to do with Fridoon Rawshan Nehad than a general understanding of the best practices for this millennium. Our police are still way too reactive.  Yes, of course, there are difficult and dangerous situations that our police must respond to. But, there are still far more situations that are not violent in nature that are dealt with by the police in a reactive rather than proactive manner. Part of the problem lies with our justice system that requires a total revamp. Too many times our police have a mentality of "pack 'em up and ship 'em out". But, that doesn't solve the problems. We have too many veterans, drug addicts, and homeless to be treated poorly by our justice system. Yet, police are called to "sweep the trash away". " But we have people that are repeat offenders!" Repeat offenders of what is the question. We have to move away from warehousing our community problems into jails that do not address the underlying problems. And, we have to move from abusing people by the police with a wild west mentality to dealing with the real problems of those left on our streets to fend for themselves.  Money is an issue. But, a much larger issue is changing the methodologies of our police department.

    Bill Bradshaw
    Bill Bradshaw subscribermember

    I haven't yet decided who I'll vote for for D A, but I'm very clear on who will NOT get my vote.  Bonnie is "over age in grade"; time for a change! 

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    It seems rather evident to me that Ms. Dumanis felt that the best way to justify her decision was to provide information selectively. Indeed she bamboozled the UT, which wrote an editorial based upon it. Then it turned out she hadn't provided all the facts.She has thereby created a credibility problem for herself in future cases. The media and others will rightly wonder, is she telling us the whole story?

    jeff jordon
    jeff jordon

    @Chris Brewster  I don't talk to the DA and have not in a very long time, but it appeared to me she presented the information in detail that weighed on the decision not to charge the officer with a crime.  Much has been reported by the media, without context, about Officer Browder's statement during the walk through or safety statement as it is called at these scenes.  Unfortunately, there has been little reporting on why this statement is not a reflection of the officer's state of mind or what he observed at the time he fired his weapon.  Safety statements are designed to do a couple of things only, address specific public safety issues and guide evidence technicians on where to look for physical evidence.  If an officer returns to the scene with the knowledge that the item used by a suspect is a fake or a toy gun for instance, they are very likely to answer they did not see a weapon or are aware of an outstanding weapon when asked about them on a walk through.  The officers are answering the question in the context of the investigatory process and with the knowledge of what they know the item to be now, not what the weapon was believed to be as the incident unfolded.  If the media bothered to ask these types of questions for explanation they wouldn't have much of a story.  Instead, the media avoids the questions or just doesn't know what to ask and gets lots of material to attack the DA, the Chief and Officer Browder with to further their narrative or the narrative of the plaintiff attorneys.  I don't blame the media entirely though, for too long members of law enforcement have avoided partnering with media or explaining themselves, which leads to the distrust you mentioned. 

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Jordan: Yes. The points you make about the statements, etc. are a reasonable argument to make about the situation. The problem here in my view is that by releasing only part of the information available (especially knowing the family was likely to release the rest) creates a huge credibility gap. Better to lay it all on the table and explain the thought process warts and all, than to selectively release the parts that seem easier to explain/justify. The way she did it appears to me to be an intent to manipulate the news media into thinking they had all the facts she considered. Moreover, it seems callous to me to do this without notifying the family and to do it before they were legally permitted to do so.

    jeff jordon
    jeff jordon

    @Chris Brewster  I believe your points are well said and should be considered by law enforcement in future decisions such as these, but I don't know if the DA violated the law or court order by releasing the information.  I think she outlined her rationale and right to release the evidence at the press conference. 

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Jordan: I don't think she violated the law either. My understanding of what she did is this: The court allowed for release of the information by the family, but not before a specific date. Ms. Dumanis, who until that time had refused to release any information, released a curated portion of it at her press conference several days prior to the date the family was permitted to release it. In effect, I believe she used the court order to release her version before the family were legally permitted to release all the information. Legal? I believe so. Ethical? Not in my opinion. 

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    The DA has an ongoing problem. She is coming up for reelection, somewhat wounded by her losing  effort to run for Mayor, which some voters will take as a sign that she is not committed to her current job. As a candidate, she is using every opportunity to get her photo in the media, but it's not helping when she's repeatedly required to explain fishy officer involved killings.

    Mr. Roboto
    Mr. Roboto subscriber

    I can't tell you how disappointed I am in VOSD for continuing this disgusting crusade. Claiming that Bonnie conducted a trial by media after you literally forced her hand pursuing your desire to conduct your own trial by media is the worst backwards logic I have ever seen used to justify a garbage article like this. This article is literally proof that you are "not mature enough" to handle it. If you don't like being patronized, then stop acting like a child.

    As Mr. Jordan said below, the appropriate place for this evidence to be released is at trial where all evidence will be considered fairly within the confines of our legal system. You only have yourselves to blame for how this has played out.

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Mr. Roboto 1. Perhaps you need to read more carefully we did not seek the video and "nothing else." In the intervention, we sought the officer's statements as well as the video. 


    2) Before. 


    3) Where did I do this?

    4) We disagree. 

    rhylton
    rhylton subscriber

    @Mr. Roboto please pay attention sir.It was Judge Hayes who ordered that the Nehad family could release the video, after, again after, a decision was taken not, again not, to have a criminal trial.  Dumanis decided to use the judge's decision, made in conformity to and within the confines of our legal system (that you so obviously respect) to mount a defense of her decision not to prosecute Browder. She struck, she believes, preemptively.

    Mr. Roboto
    Mr. Roboto subscriber

    Your condescension rings hollow. There's only one point that matters here. The DA would not have released any evidence, again any evidence, were it not for VOSD's lawsuit to have the video released in the first place. Her hand was forced, end of story.

    Bonnie also only released the evidence early because all parties eligible to appeal had publicly stated that they would not. Maybe that wouldn't have been the case if VOSD staff, namely Mr. Lewis and Mr. Dillon, had not gone on a childish gloating tour on Twitter prodding the SD City Councilmembers whether or not they would appeal the judges decision. Wonder if that had crossed their minds at all while they were complaining about Bonnie releasing the evidence before the family did...

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Mr. Roboto I'm not sure what you mean about literally forcing her hand. Nothing, at all, forced her to have the press conference she did. She had already announced and discussed, weeks before, that she wasn't prosecuting the police officer. I don't feel like I was being patronized. 

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Mr. Roboto VOSD was joined in the intervention by the U-T, inewsource, KPBS, CBS8 and 10News. I don't know what's "childish" about asking City Councilmembers if they plan to appeal and I did not complain about her releasing the evidence. I criticized her decision not to release other information we were seeking and her other statements. 

    Mr. Roboto
    Mr. Roboto subscriber

    1. They are all as guilty as you are in wanting to conduct a "trial by media" with your pursuit of specific evidence that fits your narrative. You were not seeking all the evidence. Only the evidence that you deemed worthy of the publics eye.

    2. You are right, there is nothing wrong with the question. But you guys made a pretty good victory lap on Twitter. I guess I can't blame you, I'd be excited about winning a case too. I just fundamentally disagree with your case for the release of the evidence and it bothers me that you guys seem legitimately overjoyed at trampling on our (includes cops) rights to a fair trial.

    3. You did complain about her releasing the evidence before the family. But she wouldn't have been able to do that if the possibility of appeal was still on the table. Your victory lap on Twitter made it possible for her to do this so you really don't have a right to complain.

    4. It's not reasonable to think that she could release all of the evidence in a single press conference and be able to give context to it. It would take hours if not days. Context is extremely important in complicated issues like this and it seems to me like you don't want the context because you'd prefer to make your own.

    Mr. Roboto
    Mr. Roboto subscriber

    You can't really be this naive can you? You honestly think that justice would have been served by allowing the family and its attorneys to hold a press conference where they release only the evidence that supported their case? Do you honestly think that they would have somehow been unbiased with their press conference? They are by definition biased in this case. The only appropriate entity to release evidence is the DA in the first place. And again, were it not for your lawsuit, which I am convinced would be overturned if appealed, there wouldn't have been a press conference to begin with. Only problem is you guys would fry anyone in the media who actually tried to appeal the decision.

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Mr. Roboto 1. We seek information, it's what we do. There was indication this was worthy of investigation so we pressed it. 


    2. How in the world did we trample on anyone's right for a fair trial by winning the case? Dumanis decided not to pursue a trial. 


    3. Where did I complain about her releasing the video? I criticized what she said when she did. You haven't pointed out a flaw with any of the arguments i make in the piece. It wasn't a victory lap, it was a legit question and they answered it. 

    4. This is your absolute worst point: It's not reasonable to give context to all the evidence yet context is extremely important? Which is it?

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Mr. Roboto My point was I did not force her to do anything. She chose to. As you point out, she had reasons to. I did not criticize her, and have not criticized her, for releasing the video. I criticized her for what she said. I still don't understand why you guys think I am not allowed to do that. I'm just supposed to obediently listen and not analyze what she said? 

    And where did I argue the family would be unbiased? They are obviously biased. This isn't an argument about bias. The DA is obviously biased too. 

    Mr. Roboto
    Mr. Roboto subscriber

    You are still clinging to this idea that you (collectively media) didn't force her hand. Bonnie had to hold the press conference because of your lawsuit. The fact that you won't acknowledge that is willfully naive or dishonest. Jeff Jordan already summarized this point better than I can below.

    Mr. Roboto
    Mr. Roboto subscriber

    1. Yes you do. But what information you seek says more than you think. Why not ask for all the evidence? Do you think it would have bee responsible to have just released the video footage you sought and nothing else?

    2. When did you file your lawsuit? Before or after Bonnie made the decision not to press charges?

    3. oh come on, you have complained about Bonnie releasing it early (which you helped facilitate). It basically implies that you think the family should have released it and in that case see point 1.

    4. Actually it's my best. The point is the media is not the best avenue for releasing evidence to the public. A courtroom is. And since there is still an ongoing FBI investigation and potential civil suit in play, that remains true.

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Scott Lewis @Mr. Roboto Scott, for me this response makes it easier to explain and enumerate the issues I have with your piece.


    First, I think Mr. Jordan is correct in suggesting the D.A. was forced into preemptively releasing the video after the combined press was successful in court.  You too are correct in stating she chose to do it, but she so chose in the face of a successful suit initiated by your group and others.  In my mind, it's a non-issue.  Only Ms. Dumanis, and perhaps her staff know why she did it at that time, but she did so it's time to let it go.  We shouldn't care now.


    Second, as an elected official, the D.A.'s statements and actions are rightfully subject to criticism from you, and any other person or entity that chooses to do so.  I would hope however, that henceforth you are careful to point out when reportage ends and analysis and opinion begins.  In my opinion that was not done in this piece.  An example, is your statement that Ms. Dumanis attempted to "try Mr. Nehad in the media."  First off she didn't do that.  What she did was present a series of facts with bearing on her decision.  Do you believe she is not allowed to defend the determination she is required to make?  The logical regression from that would be she should have just told the press it was a justified use of force, end of story.....no rationale, no statement, and no video.  That was not what you and your cohorts sought, so stop criticizing her for doing her job and explaining her reasons; much as you use this comment section to explain and defend your statements. 


     I would note here that I'm pleased you are backing away from asserting your right to criticize her for what she didn't say.  It's a free country, and you are therefore allowed to engage in any speculation you choose, but at the point you do, you forfeit any pretext of journalistic integrity or professionalism, and become just another tabloid writer or just a plain hater with an axe to grind.


    Third, it is a discussion about bias, and of course the family is biased.  No parent wants to think their son turned out badly; and they most likely (and in my opinion rightfully) feel some guilt for not doing more to address their son's problems.  So we have no disagreement there, with the possible exception that you feel the family is altruistically seeking only to prevent any future recurrence and has no interest in financial gain.  


    Where we begin to diverge is your statement that Ms. Dumanis is biased.  If that's your inflammatory way of saying she has faith in the results of her investigation and strength in her belief the shooting was legally justified, then fine.  Check your dictionary, "bias" is the wrong word here, as it connotes a prejudice often in the face of contradictory facts.  The D.A,. merely presented the facts as she saw them and then defended the conclusions she drew from them as required.  No bias, she just doesn't agree with your conclusions.  It's also worth noting, and you may wonder why Mr. Jordan says he has political differences with Ms. Dumanis.  Although he may deny it, she came under fire from the POA when she decided to prosecute an off-duty SDPD officer who fired his weapon into a moving car in a parking lot in Oceanside.  


    Finally, you neglected to include yourself as biased, and, in my opinion, that's one of the main reasons there have been so many comments on this article.  If that was your purpose, intending to polarize and spark controversy to increase participation and readership, then bravo....mission accomplished.  However, if this is a pattern, and the Voice of San Diego intends on becoming the Voice & Conscience of San Diego then stand by for significant disagreement and most likely reduced donation revenue.

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @obboy13 @Scott Lewis @Mr. Roboto  1) " I would hope however, that henceforth you are careful to point out when reportage ends and analysis and opinion begins.  In my opinion that was not done in this piece." I think this is quite obviously my opinion/analysis. It's my column, with my picture. And yes, you disagree with it. If you don't think I have integrity, I guess I have to reflect on your criticism and consider it. 

    2) "
     Do you believe she is not allowed to defend the determination she is required to make?  The logical regression from that would be she should have just told the press it was a justified use of force, end of story.....no rationale, no statement, and no video.  That was not what you and your cohorts sought, so stop criticizing her for doing her job and explaining her reasons;" -- I honestly don't understand why this keeps coming back to me somehow thinking she should not have made any presentation. She made a presentation, I saw what I thought was a flaw and pointed it out. She can defend and explain whatever she wants and I will read it, ask questions and criticize whatever I want. The consequence being feedback like this, which is fine. 

    3) I did not say that the family is altruistically seeking only to prevent future recurrence. I don't know their motivations. I talked about the conversation their lawsuit was generating as a good thing. Just as it would be wrong to say that they are purely altruistic, it is wrong for Jordon to say they are only seeking a payday. 


    4) OK, maybe Bonnie is not biased. Maybe she carried no pre-conceived notions into the discussion and that was a mean thing for me to say in the comment reacting to the point that the family is biased. 


    5) As to my bias, I do have a point of view that evolves with facts as they come. I think murder is bad. Corruption is bad. Child abuse is bad. Wasting water is bad. Good education is good ... I can go on and on. I've been pretty free with my opinions for many years on this site and somehow we have survived and thrived. If articles like this leave you less compelled to donate, that's a consequence I will have to deal with. 

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Mr. Roboto you can keep calling me naive as many times as you want but it doesn't change the fact that she voluntarily chose to make a presentation. I can't force her to do anything, though I appreciate the flattery as to my vast powers. She made a presentation and I criticized it. 

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Scott Lewis @obboy13 @Mr. Roboto

    1.Scott, putting your name and picture on a piece of writing doesn't automatically label it as opinion rather than factual reporting.  I'm pretty sure Tom Clancy put his name and picture on his stuff and that was fiction.  Dan Rather put his name and picture on a report that used false Texas Air National Guard documents....didn't make it true.  I could go on but there's no reason to.  If you meant the piece as your opinion, then please say that so dummies such as I will know.  I may be a bit too literal, but isn't that why editorials are so labeled?


    Additionally it seems I owe you an apology.  It was not my intent to imply you have no integrity, I do not think that is so, and I was simply attempting to say that those who attempt to pass off opinions as factual reporting lack journalistic integrity.  If it was not you're intent to do so then I misunderstood and apologize to you.


    2. Even after reading your piece, I'm not sure what "flaw" you observed in Bonnie's presentation, other than you disagree with her conclusions and feel she should have been more empathetic.  OK, we do disagree...no big deal.


    3. You are correct, you did not say exactly what I wrote, what you said was "Nehad’s family is the only one trying to expose what went wrong and hold people accountable for it."  I implied that you were assigning only that motive to them, and I agree that you can not read their minds and know their motives.  My mistake.  That being said, how is it that you're able to read Bonnie's mind, the Chief of Police's mind, and the Mayor's mind and know their motives?


    4.  See, we can agree on some things, she wasn't biased, and it was a bit mean to suggest she was.  I'm guessing she'll get over that...I know I will.


    5. More things we agree on (can you feel the love?)  I respect, and value your perspective, (right now you're thinking: sure, when you agree with it) and not just when I agree with you.  Write all the biased articles you want.  I'm not being snarky when I say you're good at it.  My only hope is that you can figure out some way to ensure that your readers have no problem differentiating factual reporting from editorializing.  

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Scott Lewis @obboy13 @Mr. Roboto One more quick observation to buttress my case: the banner on the left side of this webpage clearly labels the piece on school integration as opinion.  Your piece on the trial of Mr Nehad is not so labeled.

    Mr. Roboto
    Mr. Roboto subscriber

    1. That's even worse. You were searching for two pieces of evidence that selectively made the officer look guilty just so you could capitalize on a national storyline and generate page views. That's not journalism that's tabloid fodder.

    2. Again you are proving my point. You sought this evidence before Bonnie had chosen not to press charges. You clearly don't believe that would taint a jury pool in the event charges were brought, but I do and that's why I take issue.

    3. Let me rephrase because I'm too lazy to quote you from other places, do you believe that the family should have been the ones to release the evidence and that Bonnie should not have released it early?

    4. Then you support conducting trials by media?

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @Mr. Roboto 1. What in the world??? How could we imagine that the officer's statement on what happened would be incriminating? That's crazy. On my part, I believed it would, I don't know, offer us his view of what happened!


    2. I'm done with this point, it's ridiculous. 

    3. No, I don't care who released it. I would prefer all parties do whatever they like to release whatever they want to let me press them for more and analyze what they do. 

    4. There is no such thing as a trial by media. A trial has a meaning and has consequences that can include incarceration. or other very serious outcomes. You of all people should know that. The media reports, analyzes, questions and opines. "Trial by media" is a fabricated concept deployed to encourage suppression of information from public access. 

    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Scott Lewis @Mr. Roboto Sorry for the delayed response here Scott, but your point #4 in the above response caught my eye.  I quote, "There is no such thing as trial by media."   OK, I can understand that, but in the original article you say, "Dumanis was absolutely willing to try in the media the man who was killed."


    How is it possible for you to accuse Bonnie of something that doesn't exist?  Would it be credible for me to accuse you of being a unicorn?  I'm baffled.

    jeff jordon
    jeff jordon

    It appears we have a difference of opinion again, so I'll take a few moments expressing mine as I enter my last week as the SDPOA vice-president.  Officer Browder was confronted by Mr. Nehad under circumstances in which a reasonable officer would believe Nehad was armed with a knife and a threat to his life, as well as the lives of citizens who reported his earlier threats and those who remained in the area when Officer Browder used deadly force.  Nehad is dead and Officer Browder did not nothing legally or morally wrong, which stands in direct contrast to the arguments you attempt to make above.  Hundreds, if not thousands of times annually, SDPD Officers confront mentally disturbed and violent persons armed with weapons and there is no expectation they will all be killed.  The successful resolution of these incidents is so commonplace, they don't frequently get news coverage.  However, and I wish someone in law enforcement would say this so I will, if someone places an officer in reasonable fear for their life or the lives of others, than the use of deadly force may be a decision that an officer reluctantly chooses to make.  Officer Browder has incredible skills and empathy for our community not lost over his long career.  There is no way that he, or any other officer with SDPD, possess the desire to end a citizen's life by using their firearm unless confronted by circumstances that do not permit a different outcome.  Next, I watched the DA's the press conference, which I doubt most citizens did and I came away with a detailed explanation of why Officer Browder was not charged with a crime.  The DA, which I am not exactly friends with for political reasons, was forced into having this press conference by those in the media, including VOSD, and I find it interesting that after forcing her into it, they did not like her presentation or answers.  But, this is exactly what they knew was going to happen as soon as they pushed for the release of evidence in an ongoing FBI investigation and civil trial.  The DA was going to defend her decision not to charge after an evaluation of all the evidence, not a singular piece of it.  Also expected, was the plaintiff's response criticizing the DA for essentially gutting their civil case (or their quest for cash) with her explanation of the reasonableness of Browder's actions.  Beyond the infringement of constitutional rights, the DA and Chief may be reluctant to release evidence out of their righteous fears of a media that doesn't take the time to understand evidence or explain it to the public, which leaves the public confused and asking more questions which both the media and law enforcement have a duty to engage in dialogue over to enhance understanding and stronger community relations.  The venue for this dialogue was a courtroom, it's not any longer. 

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    The Civil Rights of the Mentally Ill and Homeless have been violated by both the City and County Governments, through failure to spend Cash.


    @jeff jordon


    A great way to take care of the Mentally Ill so that Police resources are not required, is to use the available $172 million in County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) funds hoarded by the County Board of Supervisors to at least Shelter the Mentally Ill during this upcoming El Nino rainy season.  In response to the Union Tribune Watchdog report, the County announced plans to only spend $10 million, with no discussion of extra $162 million in Reserves. 


    http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/aug/22/county-amasses-mental-health-funds-amid-need/

    jeff jordon
    jeff jordon

    RHylton, from monitoring your comments in previous articles about SDPD, I am also familiar with your constant speculation and inclusion of inaccurate information to support your positions.  I don't typically respond, primarily because I find it a waste of my time and rarely do you add anything to the conversations you participate in.  However, I'll provide some clarity to my previous thoughts.  As evidence gets released publicly on a more routine basis, it is going to require law enforcement officials to explain officer's decisions more clearly and this explanation will occur long before a matter goes to trial, whether it be civil or criminal.  We will experience what is transpiring in this matter as the new norm, trials in the media, in public forums and in our homes.  If this is to be the future, it will require the parties to engage in more dialogue outside the courtroom.

    rhylton
    rhylton subscriber

    @jeff jordon data, feeds my comments about the operations of the SDPD; accordingly the need to speculate is nil. But, since you did take the time to reply, it distresses me that you did not use it productively, if only  to refute, what you call, my speculation about the officer's skills or training. Nevertheless;  I acknowledge your recognition of the new norm  that shall compel explanations of the actions of law enforcement persons, rather than shield them; a chill wind, indeed. 


    The dialogue, that you invite, may lead towards the goal of greater transparency and a better police force; but my recollection of facts (and the dearth of information from you) does little to persuade me.   I give you a single example: The POA fought against and won the dialogue or argument that prevented the collection of data that would have weeded out incompetent, bigoted, troubled officers -conditions that would have created a better force. It viewed those data-collection efforts as the collection of "incriminating paperwork."


    Prior to learning about the above,  I used to  think that  only criminals could be incriminated. It is documented that The POA held a different opinion; and so here we are.

    tomp
    tomp subscriber

    @jeff jordon Jeff--

    Thank you for the clear statement of your opinion.  I disagree with several assertions you make as part of your statement.  Perhaps I can explain to you why some of us have a righteous fear of interactions with SDPD, which is a fear of much more deadly consequences than merely the media causing the public to ask more questions.   [No, I don't consider that a "righteous" fear at all.]

    [2 parts because I'm long-winded.]  


    My understanding is coming from being a resident in Ocean Beach and Point Loma (and elsewhere for a few years), so observing homeless and other people on the streets & in the alleys up close & personal, and observing many police interactions with those people.  It is also coming from observing park rangers going through Law Enforcement training, and their discussions of the LE training lessons & policy, which shares a great deal with police academy and other LE training.  I want all LE colleagues to go home safe every day; I want everyone else to go home safe, too.


    The current pervasive LE tactics I question are the tactics of immediate aggressive stance to dominate & control the situation in all enforcement encounters: Shock & Awe writ small.  Maybe the justification is preemption to preclude escalation, maybe it is something else.   I'd love to see any empirical data on aggressive domination & control in enforcement encounters leading to a lower rate of negative outcomes (defined as harm to LE and to non-violent "civilians") that might justify the current policies and training.  No one that I have asked has heard of such data during their training.  I'm not sure what such data would even consist of.  I suspect that if such empirical data existed, analyses of the data could provide information on situations where domination is more appropriate and circumstances where it is less appropriate and effective.  Consider this a challenge to SDPD & SDPOA to develop evidence-based policing practice akin to evidence-based medical practice: treating the safety of LE and citizens as seriously as we treat the safety of medical patients.


    How does the training of the 21' or 25' or now 30' rule for imminent danger from (something that you can not distinguish from) a knife, NOT also mean: "don't zoom up close and directly in the path of someone you suspect has a knife, in order to _cause_ that safety buffer to be broken if they merely continue walking and don't react immediately"?   I fundamentally disagree with your characterization of "someone places an officer in reasonable fear of their life".  In this case the someone merely kept walking for a couple of seconds.  When the officer is primarily responsible for creating the lack of safe distance, I think that it is the officer not the other someone who places the officer in fear of their life.  That's on the officer, not the someone, and doesn't make lethal force morally justified.  


    Why pull the car up close to and in the path of a suspect with a possible knife, minimizing any time for interaction before the magic 21' bubble justifying deadly force by the officer is violated?  There were no other people in the video at immediate risk from Nehad that Browder was protecting with his vehicle and person.  When responding to a call, why pull up with the headlights on but not the light bar to help identify yourself as police?  The headlights provide illumination for the officer to see the scene (and any possible other threats: situational awareness is important), but they also blind the civilian who is looking into the headlights, who (absent the headlight glare) at most might see markings on the car door to identify it as police because the emergency lights are not on.  Why doesn't training and policy include consideration of what can be done to mitigate the blinding effect of the headlights on the civilian: emergency lights, moving sideways then approaching from a different angle not directly out of the headlights, or anything else?  Do you demand immediate compliance to you as a person because you're loud and forceful, or to you as a member of the police?  If compliance is to police, do whatever is possible to advertise that you're police making the demand.





    tomp
    tomp subscriber

    @jeff jordon

    Did the officer shout to identify himself as police, or just shout "drop the knife", or neither?  Browder didn't remember, but even if he did shout to identify himself as well as to command, his subsequent statement was that "it all happened so fast".  That's the (honest) perspective of a veteran, trained officer who initiated the interaction, and almost certainly has been in that situation before.  Yet the other party to the interaction, Fridoon Nehad, was suddenly and unexpectedly confronted by a car with bright headlights unexpectedly rushing up on him, perhaps a shouted command, but then he had at most a second or 2 to change what he was doing and react "appropriately" so that the officer would not feel at risk.  I haven't heard anyone assert that Nehad reacted by accelerating his pace or aggressively going after the officer (at least not since the existence of the video was known!).  The argument is over whether he didn't react at all and kept walking forward, or slowed down and possibly veered away from the vehicle blocking his path, or was stopping.  Slowing and veering wasn't sufficient in the mind of officer Browder.  Anything short of absolute halt within that couple of seconds wasn't sufficient for Dumanis.  She made a big point that a foot was off the ground so he was moving; to her any motion at all, no matter how much he might have slowed, not only precluded criminal charges, it completely justified the shooting. 


    Officer Browder's actions, whether deliberately meant to or not, had the effect of minimizing the information and cues available to Nehad, possibly maximizing the startling and confusion, and minimizing the amount of time Nehad had to make the "right" decision to mollify the officer's fear for his safety before being "justifiably" shot.  If officer Browder was following procedure then he was following procedure.  In that case the procedure and training reflect either inability to think of the situation you put the "civilian" in (before-hand, in the development of policy & training, not only in the heat of the moment), or training for deliberately aggressive escalation of a situation to one that justifies the use of deadly force.  If he wasn't following procedure, then the training needs to be improved so that procedure is followed reflexively, like we do for other safety training.  Officer Browder may be trained to policy (except for body cameras with audio), but in my opinion the situation he put Nehad in absolutely doesn't reflect "incredible skills and empathy" on his part.


    I'm not currently homeless (a couple more medical issues overwhelming my insurance, and who knows?).  I don't do drugs (I make a living with my mind, I could never get by on my looks or strength ).  I don't have apparent mental issues.  I don't carry weapons (except when needed for fieldwork: I've shot many a pine cone out of the tops of trees).  I respect LE as people, and when I can, I try to move away from behind them and otherwise act in ways to reassure them that I am not a threat, and so that they are not distracted from their issue at hand (I know distraction itself can be dangerous to them).  But, I can't guaranty that if a car zoomed up on me as I walked home after a couple of beers from Modern Times, just a block away on Greenwood St, headlights limited my ability to identify the car and it had no emergency lights on, and somebody jumped out and shouted at me to drop a knife that I didn't have, that I wouldn't be confused enough for a second or 2 to not _immediately_ react the way that officer wanted.  If I didn't stop walking soon enough I'd be dead, and according to you (and SDPD and Dumanis), there would have been no legal or moral wrong, and no tactical wrong that should be investigated and changed.  Maybe my white male privilege and middle class status would be enough to save me, maybe not.  I have too many friends who don't have WMP.  If I'm at risk, they're at greater risk, and marginalized people are at even greater risk.  And _that_ is why I have righteous fear of any business encounter with SDPD, and at least part of why other citizens have even more righteous fear of SDPD.


    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @jeff jordon I have no idea what you mean that she was "forced into having this press conference by those in the media, including VOSD, and I find it interesting that after forcing her into it, they did not like her presentation or answers." That's just plain incorrect. We did not ask or demand or do anything to compel her to do her presentation. She proactively decided to do it and I'm not even mad that she did. But to be clear, she had no reason to beyond her own initiative. 


    The media did persuade a judge to allow the family to release the video. That's it. To call that "forcing the DA" to make the presentation she did is quite a stretch.  

    I think it is perfectly appropriate to analyze what she said and hold her accountable for what she didn't say. Much of the rest of your points do not address my argument. I did not argue that Browder did something illegal. I would like to, however, challenge your point that these circumstances "do not permit a different outcome." I think it's worth discussing how we can avoid that outcome.  

    rhylton
    rhylton subscriber

    @jeff jordon The absence of paragraphs, coupled with the liberal use of "copspeak," and other words that denote aggression, on the part of dead Fridoon, and gallantry on the part of an evidently poorly-trained policeman, adds a turgidity that makes your comments nigh unto impossible to read, much less assimilate or accept.


    I am left wondering why those citizens, whose lives were adjudged to be in danger, and " who reported his earlier threats, " "remained in the area when Officer Browder used deadly force." I am compelled to speculate or wonder if they remained because the saw that Fridoon had a pen.


    I wonder how Fridoon could confront Browder from 20-25 feet away, armed with a pen,   with hostile or argumentative intent. Confront means: to meet (someone) face to face with hostile or argumentative intent; face to face.


    The remainder of your screed is too well-populated by straw men and their paraphernalia to warrant much more comment . Moreover; as said before, I find it difficult to navigate through the thicket you have lain before us. But allow me this; if you believe that the venue for this matter is no longer a courtroom, think again.


    Perhaps, given your position, you would make a gift of telling us if Browder, and the person who dispatched him, are amongst the persons who did not receive state-mandated training for a period beyond that required by law.


    Finally; you say that Browder has incredible skills. I agree. I find his skills (here, the lack of them) in the following areas unbelievable (the meaning of incredible.)

    1. situation de-escalation

    2.use of his vehicle for his defense; including the car door.

    3.distance estimation.

    4. Inability to activate his body-camera; as trained to do.

    4. vision



    obboy13
    obboy13 subscriber

    @Scott Lewis @jeff jordon Scott, you were doing fine with spinning the discussion until "I think it is perfectly appropriate to analyze what she said and hold her accountable for what she didn't say."


    Really?  You want to hold people accountable for what they don't say?  That's ludicrous, unless of course you're possessed of some special sixth sense allowing you to know folks are thinking but not saying.  I've never heard you say you aren't a racist, does that mean we should hold you accountable for supporting racists?  


    Please stick to reporting facts and statements, and leave interpreting what people don't say to Miss Cleo and the other psychos er, um psychics.   

    jeff jordon
    jeff jordon

    @Scott Lewis sorry Scott, the actions of VOSD and others in the media demanding the release of this evidence set in motion consequences that even a blind man could have seen coming.  The release of the video, without context or an explanation of it, would have created additional demands for the DA to explain her decision in greater detail.  This was a certainty and it forced the DA to respond accordingly, which is not a stretch at all and I believe this will be how matter like this get handled by DAs throughout the state if releasing video evidence because the norm.  I think the DA handled the press conference pretty well, maybe it could have been done a little better which I have already addressed with Mr. Brewster above.  As for your argument, it speaks for itself and claims something went "wrong."  I don't believe the officer did anything wrong, if you want to clarify your argument feel free to do so. 

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @jeff jordon @Scott Lewis I don't think that encounter should have ended in the man's death and I want to have a discussion about how it could have ended differently. You have no question he should have died?

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @obboy13 @Scott Lewis @jeff jordon That seems like an unnecessary digression. I didn't mean she was thinking something but not saying it. Perhaps I could have said it better but I mean her not talking about what went wrong or whether it was a tragedy or mistake.

    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @jeff jordon Even if I accept your logic that we forced her to do the presentation, why am I precluded from analyzing it? I believe it was flawed and I tried to make that case. 

    La Playa Heritage
    La Playa Heritage subscribermember

    @jeff jordon Great news.  @Scott Lewis 


    Today the California Senators are taking back the $172 million in MHSA funds from the failed County control back to state of California control.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG6_vzjOyQo


    The $172 will be use first to Shelter Mentally Ill homeless, and next to build permanent supportive housing first.


    Praise the Lord. Great way to start the new 2016 year of Grace. 

    jeff jordon
    jeff jordon

    @Scott Lewis I don't believe in any of my comments that I took issue with your right to analyze the press conference.  I typically believe in defending a persons right to say something, even when I don't agree with it just as you have done.  In fact, in my own comments I expressed what I would have liked someone other than me say about the use of deadly of force and I agreed with comments from Mr. Brewster about what could have been done differently.  

    jeff jordon
    jeff jordon

    @Scott Lewis I have no question the officer acted appropriately given the circumstances of the call.  His actions resulted in a Nehad's death, which we can both agree is tragic, but in my opinion it is justifiable.  I truly believe SDPD Officers do an incredible job preserving life and do so countless times a year under circumstances involving violent and mentally disturbed persons that never get recognized or reported on.  As to the specific discussion you reference I'll have it after the civil trial is completed and the feds weigh in, otherwise I'll find myself under subpoena. 

    tomp
    tomp subscriber

    @jeff jordon @Scott Lewis I fundamentally disagree about the appropriateness of the officer's actions given the circumstances of the call as reported.  The actions may be policy, they have been declared legal.  But, initiating the contact with actions that create the situation where by continuing their otherwise legal action (walking in the same direction) for a few more seconds, the contacted person will trigger lethal force, minimizing the probability of that person reacting appropriately by maximizing the shock to the person and minimizing his ability to assess the situation, thereby maximizing the probability of a situation where the officer feels his life is threatened and he must use lethal force before the officer can even positively identify the "weapon"?  Or, for that matter, before he has any positive identification that the person encountered is even the subject of the 911 call?  No, that's not appropriate action to me.  No, that's certainly not an incredible or even deliberate job of preserving life in that interaction.  Officer Browder should not have been in a situation where he could not distinguish simple walking from aggressive intent, and where he felt at substantial risk before being able to identify a weapon.

    From my perspective the shooting is only remotely justifiable if you exclude from consideration all of the initial actions of Browder and only consider the final decision instant: early morning in an alley responding to a call about someone threatening others with a knife, the only other person in the alley continues to walk for a couple of seconds or slows down after you shout a command to drop a knife, but is now close enough to be able to jump and slash you before you can react to draw your gun and shoot. 

    I now realize another component of why I am offended and upset.  We don't train rangers & biologists for interactions with bears and large wildlife that way!  Yet the real consequences of shooting an unarmed person who was not in fact a threat are much worse than those of shooting a bear that didn't need to be shot.  We're trained to not deliberately startle or disorient the bear, to keep our distance until close proximity is absolutely required, to use available obstructions for additional protection, to move sideways to get out from between the bear and cubs or their kill or their escape, to do everything possible to delay the point of final commitment to lethal force, to buy time to get the clearest picture of the situation and threat, and in case the bear isn't in fact attacking.  No that's not committing Russian Roulette, standing in the open betting that the charge is most likely a bluff.  I won't bet my life on "most likely" and I don't expect police to, either. In many cases our training's not just de-escalation, either.  Its situational awareness: training to immediately minimize the risk to yourself, buy time to allow better understanding of the situation, and to do whatever possible to adjust the situation to make the animal explicitly and unambiguously commit to an attack before you are in a position to need to use lethal force.  Actively minimizing the risk of lethal action both to yourself and to the bear.

    Our situations are different: dangerous wildlife encounters are much less frequent than your encounters with potentially violent people in an alley, and all bears have lethal weapons so our issue is strictly intentions.  Biologists _have_ to be trained to react this way because they generally only have spray not a gun as a final resort when in the back country.  But still, it doesn't make sense to me that police policy and training is to come roaring in and do pretty much everything we're trained to avoid, creating a critical reaction instant, where continuing otherwise legal actions are ambiguous and perceived as threats, minimizing the opportunity for the subject to understand, and overall doing little to decrease the chances of lethal results for the subject.  

    So, after the civil trial and possible federal actions are completed, I want to hear your perspective on training and policy for initiating contact with a possible suspect.  I want to understand what I'm missing, or at least what the thinking is behind the current procedures.



    Scott Lewis
    Scott Lewis moderator administratormember

    @jeff jordon @Scott Lewis you're right you said you found it "interesting" that I criticized what she had to say after "forcing" her to make the presentation. To me, that implied that I should not have questioned her or analyzed what she had to say. 

    rhylton
    rhylton subscriber

    @jeff jordon @Scott Lewis Justifiable means reasonable, defensible, appropriate or just. Although Mr. Jordon, places some distance between the words, he implies; rather says, Fridoon's death is tragic but appropriate.  I  hope that I am not the only person who sees this callous but clear contradiction. 


    I, for one, would welcome seeing Mr. Jordon under subpoena. Perhaps he could be asked why it is that all service calls, to the service area in which Fridoon died, are treated as Crimes In Progress (I am quite disappointed that the press has avoided or not examined this factual matter) and whether the aggressive posture, that "Crimes in Progress" demands, contributed to Fridoon's death.


    Finally; Police Officers are required to do all the things that Mr. Jordan insists on reminding us about; its their job, they generally do it well and the public expects it and has a right to.  "Mentally  ill man survives encounter with SDPD" is not news, and it should not be reported upon.