San Diego, CA – Caught on surveillance video gunning down a mentally ill veteran last year, San Diego Police Officer Neal Browder is under investigation again for accidentally shooting a baby’s crib weeks after returning to duty. Although Browder does not face criminal charges for recklessly firing his service weapon into a crib, the controversial cop is facing a federal civil rights lawsuit.
While conducting a probation check on the morning of February 20, Browder and several officers entered an apartment occupied by Kimberly Espinoza, her 11-month-old son, her 54-year-old grandmother, and her uncle who was on probation. After removing Espinoza’s uncle from the residence, Browder and another officer ordered the family into the living room before searching their bedrooms.
Entering Espinoza’s bedroom with his gun drawn, Browder suddenly fired a bullet into her son’s crib for no reason.
“If my son had been in that crib, he wouldn’t be here today,” Espinoza told the LA Times. “And if he was in it, and it had missed my son, he would still be traumatized.”
Espinoza recalled Browder immediately appearing uneasy and nervous after firing the shot in her bedroom. Other officers removed Browder from the scene and began investigating the apparently accidental shooting.
After striking the right side of the crib, the bullet ricocheted left and became embedded into the wall behind it. The police eventually located the bullet several hours later, according to Espinoza.
Although Espinoza’s family was traumatized by the incident, the police refuse to answer whether the department will pay for any counseling that they might require. Espinoza recently told NBC7, “Because how can you be so reckless? My son wouldn’t be here. I mean I’m grateful nothing happened to him but officers like that, you’re not supposed to be scared of an officer.”
Espinoza continued, “It made me more mad because if that would’ve hit my son and he started firing because he saw a little boy in there. That’s what he did last year. He didn’t even give the guy a chance.”
On April 30, 2015, Browder responded to a call concerning a homeless man harassing people in a parking lot. Suppressed surveillance videos showed Browder pull up in his cruiser to confront 42-year-old Fridoon Rawshan Nehad. After failing to turn on his body camera before arriving, Browder could be seen exiting his vehicle before immediately firing at Nehad.
Instead of brandishing a weapon, Nehad had been twirling a pen in his hand when Browder abruptly shot the mentally ill veteran. After watching the surveillance video roughly two dozen times, nearby KECO employee Wesley Doyle stepped forward declaring Browder did not bother to use his Taser or give Nehad any physical warning that he was about to shoot him.
After the fatal police shooting last year, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced that her office decided not to file criminal charges against Browder. Two months after Nehad’s death, his family filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing Browder of violating his civil rights while alleging flaws in the department’s investigation of the officer-involved shooting.
Due to the fact that Browder has claimed that the baby crib shooting was an accident, the department launched an administrative, not criminal, investigation into this second shooting. Evaluated by a police psychologist after his initial shooting, Browder fired his gun at a baby’s crib only weeks after returning to active duty.