Man Who Says He Saw Cop Shooting Video Calls It “Unprovoked”

A second man is raising concerns about  the shooting  of a man killed by a San Diego Police Department officer, calling it “unprovoked” after he says he saw video of the incident.

In an exclusive NBC 7 interview Friday, the man -- who worked at a business near the site of the deadly shooting -- said he watched surveillance video that shows the fatal April 30 encounter from two angles, when San Diego Police Officer Neal Browder shot Fridoon Zalbeg Rawshannehad, 42, to death outside an adult bookstore in the Midway District.

Browder failed to turn on his body camera to record the shooting.

SDPD body cameras have been in the field for less than a year and the officer defied policy by not turning on the camera when he initiated contact with a member of the public, prompting the SDPD to issue a change in policy days after this shooting.

“When you take somebody's life, that should come as a result of a guttural fear for your own or someone else's safety, and not on a whim like it appears in this video,” said the man, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution.

The footage shows Rawshannehad walking casually down an alley outside the Highlight Bookstore, the man said.

Next, he saw Browder, responding to a report of a man threatening people with a knife, pull into the alley from Hancock Street without flashing lights or sirens. The SDPD later confirmed no knife was found on Rawshannehad -- just a knife sheath -- but the officer reported seeing something shiny in his hand.

In the video, the officer is seen opening his car door and walking in front of it. At 15 to 20 feet away, Rawshannehad began walking in the officer's direction.

Browder then raises his weapon and opens fire, killing Rawshannehad.

“You can definitively see that when the weapon is raised, you notice a noticeable decrease in his cadence,” the man said. “He slows down like dramatically. When the pistol is actually pointed at him in a straight line with his torso, at that moment two things happen: the guy pauses even more dramatically and the officer fires."

He said the incident lasted about 10 seconds. The video had no audio, so the man does not know what words were exchanged.

Investigators previously said Browder gave the suspect verbal commands, and when he "continued to advance," he was shot.

The man who saw the video said in the footage, he could see Rawshannehad holding a shiny object. Investigators have not revealed what the object was or if it is considered a weapon.

Because police have no body camera footage of the incident, SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman announced a change to the department’s body camera policy. Instead of turning on their cameras when they encounter possible suspects, officers must now turn them on when they get the radio call.

The SDPD has denied requests to release surveillance footage of the shooting.

“It shows something that needs to be debated,” said the man who watched the recording. “A lot of people who see the video -- that will see this as a justifiable killing. There will be people who are disgusted by it.”

The SDPD did not comment on Friday’s interview, but the homicide lieutenant said all evidence will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office for review. An internal affairs investigation will look into why Browder did not turn on his body camera.

Browder has been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is completed.

Contact Us