OFFICE OF JESUS RODRIGUEZ ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY
THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO BONNIE M. DUMANIS
San Diego 330 West Broadway San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 531-4040 San Diego County District Attorney
November 9, 2015 For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Walker (619) 531-3890 Tanya Sierra (619) 531-3315 En Español Barbara Medina (619) 531-3305
DA: SDPD Officer Believed Lives Were in Danger, is Legally Justified in Midway Shooting DA Dumanis Calls for Improved Treatment for Mentally-Ill Homeless San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis today found that based on a thorough review of the evidence and the law, a San Diego Police Officer who fatally shot Fridoon Rawshan Nehad, 42, on April 30 of this year is not criminally liable for his actions. In making the determination, Dumanis noted that Nehad was homeless, suffered from schizophrenia and had a physically-violent past. Dumanis used the facts of the incident to call for improved outreach and treatment for the county’s more than 8,000 homeless, many of whom suffer from mental illness. “Nationwide, more than 11 million individuals cycle in and out of county-operated jails every year and up to 64 percent of them suffer from mental illness,” said DA Dumanis. “People shouldn’t have to wait until they land in jail or find themselves in a life-threatening situation to receive the mental health treatment and care they deserve.” SDPD Officer Neal Browder was responding to a 911 call of a man threatening people with a knife when he encountered Nehad in an alley walking toward him with a shiny object in his hand. Officer Browder’s perception that the suspect was armed with a knife was shared by two civilians in the immediate vicinity. Nehad held and manipulated the object in his hand like a knife. The item was a metallic pen. Evidence shows Nehad was approximately 17 feet from the officer continuing to advance. Officer Browder fired his weapon 32 seconds after driving into the alley. A letter sent to San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman outlining the DA’s review says there were three witnesses to the events leading up to the shooting. Two witnesses heard Officer Browder demand that the suspect drop the knife. Another witness said he believed he heard Officer Browder tell Nehad to stop. Two independent witnesses say they believed Nehad was holding a knife. When asked during an interview what he believed at the time the incident was occurring Officer Browder said he believed Mr. Nehad was going to stab him.
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The law prohibits prosecutors from looking at a peace officer’s decision to use deadly force from the perspective of a “Monday morning quarterback.” Instead, it requires the DA to consider what an officer reasonably believes at the time, without the benefit of hindsight. Based on the totality of the evidence, the DA found Officer Browder to be in fear for his life, his decision to shoot was reasonable, and he therefore bears no criminal liability for his actions. The DA’s must also consider Nehad’s serious history of violence as part of the legal analysis. If criminal charges were filed, a jury would be instructed that they could consider Nehad’s past history in evaluating the officer’s beliefs. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Nehad was physically-violent toward his mother and sisters. He made several threats to kill them and on numerous occasions they reported they were afraid he would use a knife to stab or kill them. His repeated threats and aggression toward his immediate family led to restraining orders and brief hospital commitments. The most recent request for a restraining order came just 17 days before the shooting. It was filed by Mr. Nehad’s mother, who stated she was afraid for her safety and security. Toxicology tests how Mr. Nehad had cannabinoids and THC in his system at the time of the shooting. While the officer’s body-worn camera was not turned on, the DA’s let