SAN DIEGO – A police officer who fatally shot a homeless mentally ill man in the Midway District a year ago was involved in an accidental shooting in February, San Diego police said Tuesday.
On February 20, Officer Neal Browder “was involved in an accidental discharge of his firearm during the course of his police duties,” according to a statement from Lt. Scott Wahl. A thorough investigation was initiated. No details were released.
The incident happened after Browder was cleared by the District Attorney’s Office after he shot and killed 42-year-old Fridoon Nehad after midnight on April 30, 2015. Browder had also participated in a required Critical Incident Stress Debriefing led by a police psychologist.
In December, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis released surveillance video of the fatal shooting. Dumanis said she decided to make portions of the video public since neither the city of San Diego nor Mayor Kevin Faulconer planned to appeal U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes’ ruling to release the footage. The judge’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by the family of Nehad.
Browder, who was mistakenly informed that the mentally ill man had a knife, shot Nehad as he walked toward the officer’s car in an alley. As it turned out, Nehad was holding a metallic pen.
Browder fired one shot just 32 seconds after pulling up to the scene. Nehad was 17 feet from the officer when he was shot. The officer said later that he thought Nehad was going to stab him, according to Dumanis.
Everyone who came into contact with Nehad that night — including people inside a bookstore, a bouncer at a nearby strip club and three witnesses — thought he had a knife, according to the county’s top prosecutor.