The Morning Report
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We can now see what prosecutors and the city didn’t want us to: The fatal shooting of a man by a police officer in an alley in the Midway neighborhood. A surveillance camera captured the flashes of a gun and the collapse and flailing of a mentally unstable man reported to have been threatening people with a knife.
But much is still hidden.
After a successful legal intervention by Voice of San Diego, KPBS, the Union-Tribune, 10 News, CBS News 8 and inewsource, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis chose to release the video herself even though a judge said he wouldn’t officially release it until today if there was no appeal. Dumanis held a press conference in which she tried to explain the events in the surveillance video and in other video.
Here is our initial story and the video.
It is clear that we don’t know, and may never know, the extent of the story — the recollections of witnesses, the evidence, the typical material released in a trial — without the D.A.’s selective editing and censorship As VOSD’s Liam Dillon reports, Dumanis declined to offer all that she and other prosecutors know about the shooting — in particular the interview with the police officer himself, which was also sought by media outlets.
“We’re not going to have a trial in the media,” she said. The family of the man killed, Fridoon Nehad, released a statement saying it was a further attempt to demonize him. “The video is clear: if Officer (Neal) Browder had properly assessed the situation, activated his light-bars
or siren and waited for backup, the shooting could have been avoided.”
• You can watch Dumanis’s prepared presentation to reporters — though not her subsequent Q&A with them — on the DA’s website.
• The way the DA handled this Tuesday might itself be news and an indication of “what’s to come after future police-involved shootings in San Diego,” Dillon writes. Indeed, as NBC 7 San Diego highlighted, local law enforcement leaders have decided to come together on a proper protocol for addressing the obvious desire for more transparency on these sorts of videos.
• The U-T says the district attorney made a “solid case,” the paper wrote in an editorial published two hours after the press conference ended. But …
“If they have the truth on their side, the authorities should have faith in the public’s judgment. Dumanis should have held this news conference months ago. Instead, she spent months questioning the motives of those who sought the video …”
• The Washington Post reports that “more than 50 police officers involved in fatal shootings this year had previously fired their guns in deadly on-duty shootings… For a handful of officers, it was their third fatal shooting. For one officer, it was his fourth.”
Barrera Out at Labor Council
Richard Barrera, the secretary-treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, said Tuesday he will resign as leader of the regional AFL-CIO and return to local organizing.
Dale Kelly Bankhead, the Labor Council’s current chief of staff and political director, will replace Barrera in February as the interim secretary-treasurer. A regularly-scheduled election to fill the treasurer-secretary spot is scheduled for April.
Barrera began overseeing day-to-day operations in 2013 after Lorena Gonzalez left the job for a seat in the state Assembly.
Barrera, who is also a San Diego Unified School District trustee, will become secretary-treasurer of a local grocery workers’ union, UFCW Local 135. The local union is one of the two biggest locals that have seats on the Labor Council. Local 135’s president, Mickey Kasparian, is also president of the Labor Council.
“I think Mickey having confidence that we can keep the local strong and grow the local certainly helps him stay as active as ever” in regional and state union politics, Barrera told our Ry Rivard.
Transit Guru’s Big S.D. Plan
Alan Hoffman, a transportation consultant and lecturer at San Diego State University’s School of Public Affairs, has a vision for transit in San Diego County, and it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before. It’s also unlike anything you’ll see in the future, at least for a long while.
Hoffman admits there’s no chance of his vision happening soon. But he’s still touting what he calls Quickways. He wants to see public transit — buses, trolleys, street cars and even subways — separated entirely from roads. That would mean tunnels, bridges and more.
In a VOSD Q&A with our Maya Srikrishnan, he explains what he has in mind and how cities around the world inspired him. “If you invest in an infrastructure that is decided to radically reduce travel time,” he says, “two things happen: a lot more people show up and the cost of providing service drops precipitously because the single biggest cost factor is time.”
Culture Report: Creek Gets an Arty New Look
Chollas Creek, which runs through some of San Diego’s poorest neighborhoods, has long had a reputation as one heck of an ugly and dirty waterway. Now, as VOSD’s weekly Culture Report explains, Chollas Creek is about to get a facelift that will make a portion creek look much more attractive. Public art, courtesy of a $30,000 federal grant, will be a big part of prettification project.
Also in the Culture Report: Snoopy license plates, a new vegan restaurant featuring death metal (now there’s something I didn’t expect to write today), a Jimmy Buffet musical (OK good, there’s something I did expect to write today) dog fashion (ditto), a Trump piñata (ditto), and a skateboard with a skull painted on it. As you do.
When Your Local Congressman Isn’t So Local
The Constitution doesn’t require members of Congress to live in the districts they serve. They just have to live in the same state. The L.A. Times finds that at least 5 U.S. House representatives don’t live within the boundaries of their districts, including one local one: Juan Vargas, who represents a big chunk of South Bay. He actually lives less than a mile from his district in the San Diego neighborhood of Golden Hill and is represented not by himself but Rep. Susan Davis.
Don’t expect anything to come of this, though: Vargas seems to be one of those forever-incumbents who’ll be in Congress as long as he wants to be.
Embattled Pound Seeks Help
“County officials have hired an outside consulting firm to assess the Department of Animal Services, which has been criticized for euthanizing dogs and cats that might otherwise have been adopted,” the U-T reports. The embattled department also has a new (but temporary) deputy director. A report will be written but not pronto despite the urgency of the problems alleged by multiple volunteers: It’s not expected to be done until April.
Quick News Hits: Go… Team?
• Due to a conflict of interest regarding his business, Councilman Mark Kersey has bowed out of a battle over a cell phone tower disguised as a eucalyptus tree in a Rancho Peñasquitos park. Residents who oppose the tower plan are miffed because now there’s no one to represent their views on the council. (Reader)
• Eyewitness testimony has been widely debunked, but now a UCSD study says it’s more reliable than you might assume, and lineups are good approaches. (U-T)
• Some people are taking the loss of the Chargers much worse than others. “We told ourselves it was farewell,” writes U-T sports writer Kevin Acee in a weepy column comparing the coming breakup with the team to a divorce after a renewal of vows. “That was the right thing, and we did it right.” He also writes of fans and their emotional, physical and mental exhaustion.
Yes, many San Diegans are a bit tired from — or of — all this.
• A reporter in Canada says soccer world ultra-big-shot Landon Donovan has become part-owner of the San Diego Flash, raising the prospect of the return of major league soccer to San Diego.
Huh. With the Chargers most likely gone, maybe we could pilfer their disco-era theme song and change it up. It could go like this: “San-Dee-Ay-Go Super FLASH-ers! San-Dee-Ay-Go Super FLASH-ers!”
Yeah. Needs work before people get the wrong idea.
Clarification: We’ve removed a description of Richard Barrera’s new job as “smaller” than the one he had leading the labor council. It’s just different, not necessarily smaller.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.