The FBI is reviewing the fatal shooting of a mentally ill transient by San Diego police officer last April, a police department spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
On April 30, Fridoon Rawshan Nehad was shot by Officer Neal Browder after a 911 call reporting a man with a knife outside an adult bookstore in the Midway area. Turns out, Nehad was holding a metallic pen.
The 42-year-old Nehad had a long struggle with PTSD and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disease.
Browder, a 27-year veteran of the SDPD, was the first to arrive on scene. He “loudly and clearly” ordered Nehad to drop the shiny object in his hand, but Nehad refused and kept approaching until he was shot, according to legal documents filed by the San Diego City Attorney's office.
Nehad's family filed a $20 million suit against the city and the officer, claiming Nehad was 20 feet away and did nothing to prompt the shooting.
Browder failed to turn on his department-issued body camera. In its investigation, the SDPD obtained surveillance video from KECO, a nearby business.
In a complaint filed by Nehad's family, KECO employee Wesley Doyle, who said he has seen the surveillance video 20 to 30 times, called the footage "shocking" to see.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge William Q. Hayes heard arguments on whether the video will be released to the public. The City Attorney and Browder's attorney want the video kept sealed.
Deputy City Attorney Keith Phillips told Judge Hayes a possible review of the shooting by federal officials was one of the reasons the video should not be made public, NBC 7 media partner VoiceofSanDiego reported.
A San Diego Police spokesperson confirmed the FBI is reviewing the case and deferred our questions to the agency. NBC 7 has reached out to the FBI and Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office for more information.
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said last month her office's investigation of the shooting determined Browder had a right to fear for his safety and should have no criminal liability. It's standard protocol for officer-involved shootings to be investigated by the DA's office.
In his ruling Wednesday, Judge Hayes dissolved the protective order on the video but stayed his decision for seven days allowing for appeal.
Nehad's manic episodes led to trouble with the law. He pleaded guilty to battery in 2005, was sentenced for burglary in 2008 and was charged with petty theft in 2014.
At one point, he threatened his mother and sister and said he would light the house on fire so they could all burn. Investigating police recommended the family get a restraining order to help get Nehad into a shelter in Oceanside, according to the family's complaint. His mother filed for the restraining order two days before his death.
The Midway shooting incident prompted changes to the SDPD’s policy regarding officer-worn body cameras.