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U.S. District Court Judge William Q. Hayes on Wednesday cleared the way for the release of surveillance video from a disputed police shooting from April. But Hayes put a seven day-stay on his order to let the city and the officer decide if they want to appeal the decision, meaning the video won’t immediately be public.
In August, Voice of San Diego, the Union-Tribune, KPBS, 10 News and inewsource asked the court to allow surveillance video that captured the shooting death of 42-year-old Fridoon Rawshan Nehad to be made public. Nehad’s family had obtained the video via a wrongful death lawsuit they filed against the city on the condition it be kept secret. An employee of the business that owned the surveillance camera has seen the video and described the shooting as shocking and unprovoked.
Last month, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to prosecute Officer Neal Browder and said he was justified in feeling threatened by Nehad before he shot him. Browder was responding to a 911 call reporting a knife-wielding man in the city’s Midway district. But Nehad, who was mentally ill, was unarmed.
Despite Dumanis’ decision, attorneys for the city and Browder argued that the San Diego police internal investigation and the civil case could be tainted if the video were to be released. Hayes disagreed:
In this case, the Court must determine whether good cause exists under Rule 26(c)(1) to prevent the disclosure of the information pursuant to the Protective Order. The record demonstrates that the criminal investigation of Officer Browder is completed. There are no facts in the record to demonstrate that the Internal Affairs investigation of the San Diego Police Department will be improperly influenced by the disclosure of the [surveillance] video and the statement to the public. Defendants do not provide evidence that would connect the release of the information sought in this case to an increase in assaults on police officers or to a particularized threat of harm to Defendant Browder.
Hayes gave both the city and Browder a week to appeal the ruling before the video is allowed to be released. We’ve contacted both to see if they plan to appeal and will update you if they respond. Nehad’s family supports the video’s release.