“whether or not the video should be made public was a decision for the mayor and police chief.”
Does anyone see the issues with this statement? The police and government work for the people. The media has a right to show the video to the public. There can be a protocol with release video, but saying the discretion lays with the police chief is nothing short of concerning.
In this case, the city likely knows there is issues with the video. If that video is shown again and again then the likelihood of the city being on the wrong end of a lawsuit is likely (even if it is deserved).
Give up the video and decide what happened.
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Five local media organizations, including The San Diego Union-Tribune, have filed a motion in federal court demanding access to a videotape showing a fatal shooting of an unarmed mentally ill man by a San Diego police officer in April.
The video was taken by a security camera for a business near the Midway District alley where 42-year-old Fridoon Rawshan Nehad was killed by San Diego Police Officer Neal Browder. San Diego police have refused to release the video publicly, despite requests from media outlets.
The city did turn the video over to lawyers for Nehad’s family, who are suing the city and Browder in federal court for civil rights violations. The video, as well as a copy of the police investigation of the shooting, are under a court order prohibiting either side from sharing the information.
The motion, filed by the newspaper, KPBS, KGTV, Voice of San Diego and inewsource, argues the tape should be released under federal court rules and the First Amendment. The media is also seeking a copy of Browder’s statement to investigators about the shooting.
The motion argues the public’s right to see the video outweighs any privacy or confidentiality issues, and the city has not provided strong enough reason to keep it secret.
“There is nothing confidential about a video showing why and how an officer killed a person on a public thoroughfare, and no known rationale for possible secrecy therefore exists,” argued Guylyn Cummins, the lawyer for the media consortium. She also notes the “immense public concern nationally” over police shootings and police conduct.
The motion was filed Wednesday evening and the city has yet to respond.
A spokesman for the city attorney said on Tuesday whether or not the video should be made public was a decision for the mayor and police chief.
A spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he “supports the police chief’s decision on whether to release evidence from this investigation.”
In May the Union-Tribune’s request for a copy of the tape was rejected by the police department, which said it was part of an ongoing investigation and cited a section of the state Public Records Act exempting those kinds of records from disclosure. The federal judge would be subject to a different legal standard.
Cummins said lawyers for the family won’t object to the release of the material.
Browder encountered Nehad the night of April 30. He was responding to a call that a man in the area was threatening people with a knife. Police later said he had no knife but a shiny object in his hand – now described as a metallic pen in court papers.
The only information about the video has come from an employee of the business, who said in court papers that he viewed it 20 to 30 times before it was given to police. The man, Wesley Doyle, said in a statement that the shooting was unprovoked and Nehad was shot as he simply walked toward Browder in an alley behind an adult bookstore off Hancock Street.
The city has said Nehad ignored Browder’s commands to drop the object and continued to move forward until Browder shot him when he got within 10 to 15 feet.
The full article can be found here.