A man who says he has seen surveillance footage of a fatal officer-involved shooting last week in the Midway District says it was a “quick shooting that should not have taken place.”
The San Diego Police Department has launched an investigation into the April 30 shooting in which a veteran officer did not activate his personal body cam.
The man, who does not want to be identified, works in a building across the alley from the Highlight Book Store on the 3200 block of Hancock Street. He says the video clip is about 30-seconds long and has no audio. The surveillance footage has since been turned over to police.
“I support police, but this was wrong. This guy shouldn’t have been shot based on what I saw on the video,” said the man Thursday. “The guy was walking, just normal, lazical (sic), lazy walking. If he (the officer) said ‘stop’, that’s all he said. He just opened the door, and said ‘stop’ and shot.”
Fridoon Zalbeg Rawshannehad, 42, of San Diego was killed in the incident. The officer has been identified as Neal N. Browder, a 27-year veteran with the San Diego Police Department.
The officer was responding to a 911 call of a man threatening people with a knife. According to a police press release, the officer arrived behind the bookstore and recognized a male matching the suspect description. The officer gave verbal commands to the suspect, but he continued to advance on the officer resulting in an officer-involved shooting.
Police are conducting an investigation into the shooting and say new information could be released in the next few days, but NBC 7 has learned a knife was not found at the scene.
Lt. Paul Rorrison says investigators found a sheath for a knife on the scene, but no actual knife. He says the suspect was holding a shiny object at the time. He would not elaborate on what exactly that object is, only to say it is being processed as evidence.
Meanwhile, the man who viewed the surveillance footage says he did not see an object being held by the suspect.
“It was a quick shooting that shouldn’t have taken place. There was no aggressive action by the other guy,” he said. “Even if the cops said ‘stop,’ that doesn’t mean shoot right then, and that’s all the time he had from the time he stopped the car and opened the door, was to say stop and then shoot. There’s no three or four seconds to say it again. I was just stop the car, open the door, stop, shoot.
Investigators will also look into why the officer did not activate the record button on his body camera during the incident.
On Thursday, the SDPD announced a change to its body camera policy. Instead of waiting to activate their cameras until they get to the scene of a call, officers will now be trained to turn them on before they arrive.
Earlier this week, Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman asked for $2.1 million for 400 more body cameras during a budget presentation to the city council. But she would not comment on why the officer did not activate his body camera.
The chief released this statement, “In any officer involved shooting, we conduct a very methodical, comprehensive, and thorough investigation and that question will be answered during the investigation."
Rorrison says all of the evidence will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office for further review.
Meanwhile, family of Rawshannehad declined to comment on the shooting, asking for privacy as they mourn.