Surveillance video of a San Diego Police Officer shooting an unarmed man with a history of mental illness shows the killing was unprovoked, a family attorney said Tuesday.
“It’s a bad shooting and the DA knows it,” attorney Skip Miller told NBC 7 hours after the video was released to the public in an unprecedented news conference held by San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
“The brights shine on him. He stops and he’s shot dead,” Miller said describing the 32 seconds between the arrival of an SDPD patrol car and the moment a single gunshot was fired, striking Fridoon Rawshan Nehad in the chest.
Nehad, 42, came to the U.S. from Afghanistan 25 years ago with his family. Nehad was bipolar and suffered PTSD from when he was kidnapped in the wars in Afghanistan, Miller told NBC 7.
He said the family had tried to get Nehad help but that he often struggled with manic episodes. Nehad would often walk around San Diego for hours, according to Miller. The attorney said that's what he was doing on the night of April 30 when he was confronted by SDPD Officer Neal Browder.
An employee of a nearby business had called police reporting that Nehad was threatening people with a knife. After the shooting, however, it was discovered that he was carrying only a pen.
On Tuesday, Dumanis, whose office found the shooting justified, released a surveillance video that captured the deadly shooting. Dumanis, along with San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and the police union had argued the video should not be released to the public.
A week earlier, a federal judge ruled the video would no longer be under a protective order. That ruling takes effect Wednesday at midnight, Miller said.
“She jumped the gun to try to get her spin out there in advance,” Miller said about Dumanis. “She’s so anxious to justify her decision, she held another press conference, violated a court order.”
Dumanis explained to reporters that the judge’s protective order referred only to the parties of a complaint filed by Nehad’s family.
As to why she did not agree to earlier requests made by NBC 7 and other media outlets for the surveillance video captured by a nearby business, Dumanis said she wanted to protect the integrity of the investigation.
"We had a legal duty not to do anything that could prejudice a jury in a criminal trial," Dumanis said.
The video shows Nehad walking toward Officer Browder's patrol car when Browder fired his weapon. A report released from the DA's office Tuesday said the distance between the two men was 17 feet. Miller disputes that, saying Nehad was 25 feet from the police officer.
The video also shows the police lights were not activated on Browder's patrol car.
"This really requires federal intervention," Miller said. "Somebody needs to shine the light on what’s going on in San Diego."
He released a letter the family sent to DOJ officials requesting a federal investigation. Read the full statement here.
The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice have opened an investigation into the shooting.
SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman said the department's internal affairs review was ongoing. She also said the citizens' review board would likely take a look at the shooting as well.