San Diego – A judge has ruled in favor of the police officer who shot and killed a man, claiming he was armed with a knife. However, surveillance video shows that the man was walking slowly towards the officer, the officer opened fire 5 seconds after exiting his patrol car, and the man was found with a pen.
U.S. District Judge William Hayes dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by the family of Fridoon Nehad, ruling that the officer who killed him was reasonable in his use of deadly force, according to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“The Court concludes that the objective facts in this record support Officer Browder’s belief that the suspect was advancing toward him with a knife and posed an immediate threat to his safety,” Hayes ruled.
Nehad, 42, died on April 30, 2015, after he was shot by Neal Browder. The officer was called to the area after receiving reports of a man threatening people with a knife in the alleyway behind an adult bookstore. Nehad’s family told Voices of San Diego that he had served in Afghanistan’s military before immigrating to the United States and that he had a history of mental illness, which sometimes led to manic episodes.
Browder testified that when he pulled his patrol car into the dark alleyway, and he saw Nehad, he believed “he had a knife in his hand.”
“When I saw him as he was aggressing me, he didn’t slow down,” Browder said. “It appeared to me he was definitely focusing on me and was walking toward me with that purpose—with a purpose. … I felt that he was walking—he was walking to stab me with the knife because that’s what I saw. That’s what I saw in his hand.”
However, the footage from a nearby surveillance camera paints a very different picture of the encounter. It shows Nehad walking down the alleyway at a slow pace, and even stopping when he sees Browder exit the car. In fact, as Voices of San Diego noted, because Browder only used his headlights, it is not likely that Nehad was aware he was approaching a police officer:
“Browder did not turn on the overhead lights on his vehicle when entering the alleyway, and it’s unclear from the video whether Nehad even knew he was approaching a cop. Browder got out of the car and put no barrier between himself and Nehad–he closed his car door, which could have blocked Nehad’s path. It takes only about five seconds from when Browder gets out of his car until he shoots. And again, Nehad was at least slowing his pace before Browder shot him.”
Dan Miller, an attorney for Nehad’s family, told the Union-Tribune that he believes “the officer created a tactically unsafe environment from the start and that Nehad posed no reasonable threat when he was shot,” as an investigation into the shooting found that Nehad was about 17 feet away when Browder opened fire.
As The Free Thought Project has reported, while most police officers are taught that suspects with knives can cover 21 feet of ground in the time it takes the officer to draw and fire a holstered weapon, research has shown that the decades-old training tactic is “responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths.”
Neal Browder was cleared of all wrongdoing and began patrolling the streets of San Diego just two months after the shooting. The surveillance footage of the encounter has finally been made public, but Voice of San Diego reported that “it took months for the video to come out because the mayor, City Council, police chief and DA all fought its release.”