San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced Monday her office will not file charges against the San Diego Police officer who shot a man to death in the Midway District.
Dumanis said SDPD Officer Neal Browder acted reasonably when he killed Fridoon Rawshan Nehad outside an adult bookstore on April 30. Nehad's family called the shooting an excessive and unreasonable use of deadly force.
"This is the legal question we face. At the moment he fired, was it reasonable based on the totality of evidence for Officer Browder to be in fear for his life?" the district attorney explained at a Monday news conference.
The DA's investigation, Dumanis said, determined Browder had a right to fear for his safety and should have no criminal liability.
Browder said he thought Nehad was holding a knife before he fired, but that shiny object was actually a pen. Attorneys for the Browder said Nehad failed to obey the officer's commands to stop, advanced on the officer and was just 15 feet away when the officer fired.
An independent expert outside of San Diego County examined the case. According to Dumanis, the investigator found Browder's actions were “consistent with those of a trained and reasonable officer, including using deadly force to defend against the immediate threat to his life that Mr. Nehad threatened.”
The expert said had Browder used less lethal force, it would not have protected him or the other civilians who were nearby, Dumanis explained.
She said she has prosecuted officers in the past and will do so again when charges are legally supported, which they were not in this case.
The review does not examine the officer's compliance with the policies and procedures of law enforcement, ways to improve training or any issues related to civil liabilities.
Browder, a 27-year veteran of the SDPD, was the only officer at the time of the shooting, and it was the first time he used his gun in an officer-involved shooting, Dumanis said. Browder's failure to turn on his body camera forced the department to change its policy regarding those devices.
Because the incident was not recorded on an officer’s body camera, the SDPD had to obtain surveillance video a nearby business, which it has refused to make public. Those videos were examined by the DA's office before they decided not to file charges against Browder.
Nehad's family has filed a $20 million claim against the city and the officer which is still pending, claiming the officer used excessive force that night.
The shooting ended Nehad’s long struggle with PTSD and mental illness, his parents said in a filed complaint. While in the Afghan army, Nehad was captured by a Mujahedeen group and spent nearly two months in captivity, being tortured. He was released when his mother met face-to-face with his captors.