This post has been updated.
Federal officials are looking into April’s disputed police shooting in San Diego’s Midway neighborhood, a spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Tuesday.
Deputy City Attorney Keith Phillips referenced a possible federal inquiry during a court hearing Tuesday. Voice of San Diego and other local media outlets are asking a judge to allow the family of the shooting victim to release surveillance footage of the incident. Faulconer, the City Council and Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman all oppose the video’s release publication. (Councilman David Alvarez has said he wants the video released.)
Phillips mentioned a federal review as a reason to keep the video secret. In the hearing, U.S. District Court Judge William Hayes said he’d rule on whether to release the video by the end of the week.
“We support the appropriate federal review, local law enforcement and legal processes to run their course before any video or other material evidence should be released,” Faulconer spokesman Charles Chamberlayne said. “Part of this process involves the judge’s decision, which the city will follow.”
Chamberlayne said Zimmerman told him the federal review was routine and deferred further comment to the Police Department. A local DOJ spokeswoman said the agency does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
In April, Officer Neal Browder shot and killed 42-year-old Fridoon Rawshan Nehad outside an adult bookstore. Browder was responding to a 911 call about a knife-wielding man, but Nehad, a mentally ill Afghan refugee, turned out to be unarmed.
Last month, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to prosecute Browder and said it was reasonable to believe the officer felt threatened.
But others who have seen the video, including an employee of the business that recorded the incident and Nehad’s family members, have said the shooting was unprovoked.
“I think that no person in the world, in the entire universe, can see that video and come to the conclusion that my brother was attacking a police officer,” said Benazeer Roshan, Nehad’s sister.
Update: After this post initially published, SDPD spokesman Scott Wahl said the FBI is the agency conducting the review. Mayoral spokesman Charles Chamberlayne said it was the U.S. Department of Justice. We’ve updated the headline and some of the language to reflect the discrepancy.