Last April, San Diego police officer Neal Browder shot and killed 42-year-old Fridoon Nehad in an alleyway. A surveillance camera captured the shooting, but district attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who decided that Browder’s use of deadly force was justified, refused to release the video to the public. That is, until district judge William Hays ordered otherwise. Then she called a press conference to address “the multiple mistakes” involved in the case.
"The first mistake, of course,” Dumanis began, "lies in Judge William Hays' decision that this video should be released to the public at all. The Nehad family is currently pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against the city. Clearly, you are going to taint people’s opinion if you show them the evidence. But then, that’s the sort of anti-law enforcement chicanery we might expect from a judge who is currently under investigation by the District Attorney’s office for…something we’ll announce very soon.
"Hays should also be blamed if anyone is unhappy about my decision to release the video (and its accompanying commentary) before the Nehad family could. He’s the one who issued a three-day stay on them, not me. He wanted to give the city time to appeal. Well, this is my appeal to you, the media, to listen and learn who is really at fault here."
“Right up front, I should admit that Officer Browder made a mistake. He should never have spoken to Police Sergeant Manuel Del Toro about the incident prior to seeking the counsel of Police Officer Association Attorney Brad Fields. There’s a reason attorneys are called counselors. Now we have this confusing statement from Del Toro’s report in which Browder says he didn’t see any weapons at the scene of the shooting. Clearly, that’s inaccurate, because five days later, Browder says he saw a metal object that looked like it might be a knife in Mr. Nehad’s hand."
“Of course,” continued Dumanis, the ‘knife’ turned out to be a pen. But that leads us to another mistake, this one made by the website blowgun.com, which sells a 'fully functional ink pen' by United Cutlery that is also 'a convenient knife' for just $4.95. Nowhere on the pen knife’s sales page is there any kind of warning against brandishing or flipping the pen when there are police officers nearby. A serious oversight, I think you’ll agree; one that led to tragic consequences. For all Officer Browder knew, Nehad was carrying a United Cutlery ballpoint.”
“Further, consideration must be given to the profound cultural influences at work here. Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s famous dictum that the pen is mightier — read, ‘more dangerous’ — than the sword is only the beginning. Consider the hugely popular James Bond film franchise. Over and over, pens prove to be deadly weapons, sometimes in disturbingly plausible ways.”
“And finally, it was clearly a mistake for the makers of the classic Kurt Russell film Big Trouble in Little China to include that awesome scene where actor and legendary fight choreographer Jeff Imada whips a butterfly knife around in such badass fashion. Having witnessed such a display in his impressionable youth, is it any wonder Officer Browder thought Nehad’s twirling pen might actually be a deadly balisong?”
“In short,” concluded Dumanis, “the video clearly does not tell the whole story. That’s my job."