The Morning Report
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Immediately after the April 30 police shooting death of Fridoon Rawshan Nehad in the city’s Midway district, there were signs that things weren’t quite right. We learned that San Diego Police Officer Neal Browder didn’t turn on his body camera beforehand. The initial signals from the Police Department that Nehad had a knife turned out to be wrong. He was unarmed.
The incident became all the more questionable when we learned that there was a video that recorded the whole thing. And the video, according to someone who saw it at least 20 times, wasn’t good.
That person was Wesley Doyle. He was an employee of the boat equipment business whose surveillance camera taped the shooting. He watched the tape over and over the morning after the shooting.
First, Doyle called a bunch of local politicians to tell them the video was disturbing. Then he said two SDPD homicide detectives came to interview him even though police already had a copy of the footage. After that, Doyle spoke anonymously to television stations about the video because he feared repercussions.
It was through Doyle’s television appearances that Nehad’s family learned that there was a video tape. They say police didn’t tell them about it. Nehad’s family promptly filed a lawsuit against the city and received the tape on the condition they not share it with anyone else.
Then Doyle decided to go really public. He filed a sworn statement in court with his name attached, attesting to what he saw. Doyle’s reason: He thought what happened was wrong and thought the public should be able to see for themselves.
It looks like Doyle may now get his wish. Last week, a federal judge cleared the way for Nehad’s family to release the video, though there still might be an appeal.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has decided that Browder’s shooting of Nehad was justified because she said it was reasonable to believe he was threatened. But now the public may get a chance to see the evidence itself. That wouldn’t be happening without Doyle’s efforts.
This is part of our Voice of the Year package, profiling the people who drove the biggest conversations in San Diego this year.