After Police Shootings in SD, Feds to Get Involved Earlier

The new rule was created after the fatal shooting of a mentally ill man in the Midway District

Local agencies will now bring in federal authorities in the early stages of any police shooting investigation in San Diego County.

A member of both the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office will be present when police or sheriff's officials brief the San Diego County District Attorney’s (DA) office about a law enforcement-involved shooting, according to DA spokesman Steve Walker.

The new rule applies to all law enforcement agencies in the county and might be the first in the nation, Walker told NBC 7.

The change was discussed and implemented after the fatal shooting of Fridoon Rawshawn Nehad, who was killed by San Diego Police Officer Neal Browder in the Midway District last April.

As it stood before, countywide protocol dictated that agencies have three business days to brief the DA’s office on a shooting involving a deputy or officer.

If the FBI or U.S. Attorney’s office were to get involved, they would normally be brought in much later in the process, Walker explained.

Now, the agencies will be sharing their information with local and federal officials from the very beginning of an investigation.

The shooting of Nehad, a mentally ill transient, has caused additional change within the SDPD. Before Browder shot Nehad in the alley of an adult bookstore, he had not turned on his body camera to record the incident.

Investigators had to rely on surveillance video from a nearby business to examine the incident. As a result, the SDPD changed its body camera policy, ordering officers to turn their devices on as they travel to a scene, not just once they are there.

The shooting also sparked debate over whether to release investigation video or video evidence to the public. SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman initially said footage would only be made public if it comes out through a court order or lawsuit.

However, when a federal judge ordered the release of video showing Nehad’s death, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced law enforcement leaders will create a working group to formulate new policies for the public release of video.

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