The San Diego Police Department will conduct a thorough investigation into a fatal police shooting in which the officer did not turn on his body camera, the chief announced Monday.
Officer Neal N. Browder, a 27-year veteran of the SDPD, shot a man who police said was threatening people with a knife last Thursday at a Midway District porn shop. During the incident, Browder was wearing a body camera.
“For enforcement contact, if our officers are going to make an enforcement contact, they will hit the record button,” said SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman.
According to officials, Officer Browder had given the suspect verbal commands – an apparent “enforcement contact” -- but failed to hit record on his camera.
Zimmerman would not address the specifics of the case, saying not enough facts are known right now. She could not answer why the officer did not record the confrontation.
“In any officer-involved shooting, we conduct a very methodical comprehensive and thorough investigation and that question will be answered during the investigation,” she said.
Meanwhile, the chief presented to the San Diego City Council Monday a proposed 2016 budget that calls for $2.1 million for 400 more body cameras.
That would bring the total number of police body cameras to 1,000, just about one for every officer. The chief insists they've been effective since going into service last year, when the city rolled out 600 body cameras and became the largest city at the time to deploy that many devices.
“Our complaints were down, the allegations contained within those complaints were down, and also, our use of force was down,” Zimmerman said.
But everyone admits the cameras were brought in to build public trust, and for some, the fatal, unrecorded shooting could hurt that effort.