The Hi-Lite Theater’s alleyway, where an SDPD officer killed an unarmed man in April 2015. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle
The Hi-Lite Theater’s alleyway, where an SDPD officer killed an unarmed man in April 2015. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Late last week, the city of San Diego and the family of a man killed by a San Diego police officer in 2015 announced they will settle a lawsuit over the case. The family of Fridoon Nehad had not just argued that SDPD officer Neal Browder violated Nehad’s civil rights, but that all of SDPD “engaged in longstanding customs and practices of excessive force and [refused] to adequately investigate its officer-involved shootings.”

In a sweeping retrospective, Sara Libby writes that the case has for six years “been marked by secrecy and misinformation at every possible turn.”

There was the information that was kept from Nehad: Browder didn’t announce himself as a police officer, turn the lights on his vehicle or issue any commands before shooting him. 

There was the information kept from the public: the security footage of the incident, plus mountains of documents kept under seal until a state law forced their disclosure.

There was the information kept from police investigators and the independent review board that probes police shootings: a DA-commissioned review of the shooting, witness interviews and more.

“The settlement, which still must be approved by the San Diego City Council, will end the case – and with it will also end the steady drip of information about what really happened,” Libby writes.

City, Civic Center Plaza Lenders to Duel Over Eviction Filing

The city and lenders behind the Civic Center Plaza lease the city is now trying to void are headed to San Diego Superior Court next week following investors’ attempt to evict the city from the downtown high rise.

Superior Court Judge Ronald F. Frazier had scheduled an unlawful detainer trial to begin next Wednesday following lenders’ request for a swift hearing without a jury and the city’s decision early last month to stop making rent payments.

Attorneys for the city argued in a filing last week that a seven- to 10-day jury trial would be more appropriate and have since requested a last-minute Monday ex parte hearing.

The city attorney’s office did not elaborate on what the city plans to argue Monday. A spokeswoman for City Attorney Mara Elliott would only say that the city has chosen the course it believes is “most advantageous for the city.”

Attorneys for the city argued in a filing earlier this month that the Superior Court should dismiss the eviction suit, maintaining that lenders can’t assert rights under an agreement the city claims is void.

The city’s decision to halt rent checks followed separate legal actions by attorneys for the city alleging that more than $9 million in payments to a real estate consultant for his work on the city’s Civic Center and 101 Ash St. deals amounted to conflicts of interest since state law bars city officials and even contractors from benefiting from deals they broker.

It remains unclear what the eviction case could mean for the more than 800 city employees who work at Civic Center Plaza. The 18-story building now houses more than a dozen city departments including the city’s real estate and information technology departments. 

EPA Now Has Three Border-Sewage Options

After more than a year of work to design a fix to the border region’s long-running Tijuana River sewage problem, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has zeroed in on three potential projects to try to combat the problem.

In the latest Environment Report, MacKenzie Elmer breaks down the options the federal agency is considering including the so-called “comprehensive alternative” and two less costly projects.

Also in this week’s enviro news update: Links to updates on San Diego County’s community choice energy talks, a spike in gray whale deaths and a Harvard study that found a link between wildfire smoke and COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In Other News

  • San Diego County officials on Monday recommended that the region’s employers either mandate COVID-19 vaccines for their workers or require weekly testing, City News Service reports.
  • NBC 7 San Diego revealed that organizers have canceled next month’s 40th anniversary Adams Avenue Street Fair amid the increasing spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
  • The Union-Tribune reveals Ramona Unified School District and one private school are defying the state’s school mask mandate.
  • The county’s particularly restrictive eviction moratorium quietly expired last week, 10 News reports.
  • The California Department of Transportation announced it plans to begin clearing more homeless camps on state property, a move that the Union-Tribune reported could lead to the removal of makeshift homes that have built up throughout San Diego during the pandemic. 

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Sara Libby.

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