San Diego Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman says the release of video showing a fatal, officer-involved shooting could jeopardize that officer’s life and provoke violence against his law enforcement colleagues.
Zimmerman told a federal court last week that the release of the video of the April 30th fatal shooting of Fridoon Nehad would almost certainly “inflame violent and unstable elements, leading to threats and violence in San Diego.”
In the four-page declaration, Zimmerman explained that her department will not release the video even under the state’s Public Records Act. They are going to claim that copies of “body-camera” and other “third-party” videos are “investigative records” and are accordingly exempt from disclosure.
“Indeed, the SDPD does not (unless compelled by court order or governing law) release any body-worn-camera videos to the media – even when a video paints the SDPD and its officers in a positive light, or casts the Department’s detractors in a negative light,” Zimmerman said.
Nehad’s family filed a $20 million lawsuit against the city and SDPD Officer Neal Browder. They argue that the officer used excessive force in shooting the man who was simply holding a pen.
The city argues that officers mistook the pen Nehad was holding for a knife. But mistaking something for a gun does not legitimize an act of homicide.
SDPD homicide detectives and the district attorney’s office, say they are investigating the shooting. But few believe that will result in any police accountability whatsoever.
Adding to the outrage about the incident, Browder did not turn on his body-camera before the shooting. It was, however, caught on video by a local surveillance video from a nearby business.
Witnesses described the incident as “unprovoked” and “shocking”.
Attorneys for a number of media outlets have asked a judge to make the video public. They contend that this is a public record, and that Officer Browder is a “public official whose conduct is subject to public scrutiny.”
The ACLU of San Diego has suggested that Zimmerman’s motivation in withholding the video is not a fear of retaliation but a fear of accountability.
“As the Department has acknowledged, nothing in California law requires SDPD to withhold the video,” the ACLU said in a statement. “Despite the Chief’s claims, the release of the video would not hamper investigation into the shooting nor would it threaten the privacy of any other party.”
Watch the local report below…
(Article by Jackson Marciana and Reagan Ali)