Community Groups Urge Feds to Investigate SDPD Handling of Mentally Ill

Community groups are asking the federal government to step in and investigate alleged misconduct by the San Diego Police Department when it comes to confrontations with mentally ill suspects.

In a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties and more than two dozen other community groups offer a series of incidents as evidence of what they call “a pattern or practice of violating the fundamental rights of people with mental illness or experiencing a mental health crisis.”

The incidents include deadly confrontations involving Bradford Sarten in April 2010, Ja Ma Lo Day in July 2014, Nathan Manning in May 2010 and Fridoon Rawshan Nehad in April 2015.

“The incidents suggest that the SDPD has made an insufficient effort to supply necessary training and resources for responding to matters involving the mentally ill,” the letter states.

Read the entire letter here.

SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman sent the following statement in response to the investigation: 

“No police officer comes to work wanting to be involved in a shooting. Our training strategy focuses on de-escalating situations and deploying the appropriate resources to safely resolve an unstable situation. San Diego Police Officers responded to over 18,000 mental health calls for service last year alone. This is a 100% increase in the last seven years. Public safety is a shared responsibility. The rising mental health crisis facing society today demands the attention of more than just those families who are dealing with mental illness of a loved one. We welcome the opportunity to work together to assist those who are suffering from mental illness.”

On April 26, 2010, 55-year-old Bradford Sarten of North Park was shot and killed in a confrontation with police on Alabama Street.

Sarten was diagnosed as mentally ill in the 1980s and had been committed several times, the family told the San Diego Union-Tribune after the shooting.

The shooting took place at 11 a.m. after officers said they were called to evaluate Sarten’s mental health, the paper reported.

Officers told NBC 7 Sarten was shot when he tried to attack them with a knife.

Approximately a month later, SDPD Detective Edward Jones was involved in the deadly shooting of 31-year-old Nathan Manning.

Officials said Jones tried to break up a fight between Manning and his roommate outside their apartment on Adams Avenue and Hawley Boulevard on May 27, 2010.

Investigators told NBC 7 that Jones shot and killed Manning after Manning attacked him.The DA's Office ruled the shooting was justifiable.

Manning's brother told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Nathan had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 17.

Ja Ma Lo Day was a refugee from Burma who settled in San Diego six years before his death.

On July 14, 2014, the 21-year-old man made threats to kill police officers and swung a machete at an officer, investigators told NBC 7. Two officers opened fire, killing Day.

The deadly confrontation occurred just after 10 p.m. in the City Heights neighborhood of Menlo Avenue near Landis Street.

A family member told NBC 7 Day had his share of troubles including previous arrests, drug use and mental issues.

On April 30, 2015, San Diego Police Department Officer Neal Browder, a 27-year veteran cop, shot and killed unarmed Fridoon Rashawn Nehad, 42, in San Diego's Midway District.

Nehad suffered from a long struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis decided Browder will not face criminal charges in the deadly shooting.

Meanwhile, Nehad’s family has filed a $20 million claim against the City of San Diego in connection with the killing of their loved one. The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice have also launched an investigation into the shooting.

Contact Us