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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

SDPD Shooting Trial Stays in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (CN) - The family of a man shot and killed by a San Diego police officer will not get the trial moved to another city, a federal judge has ruled.

US District Judge William Hayes issued an order denying without prejudice the Nehad family's motion to move the trial to another federal court in California. The family claims the potential jury pool has been prejudiced by San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and the public statements she made about their son and brother following his April 2015 shooting death by SDPD Officer Neal Browder.

The family claims Dumanis embarked on a media campaign when she held two press conferences regarding the shooting of Fridoon Nehad. Dumanis was publicly criticized when she released edited surveillance video of the shooting at a press conference two days before a protective order - which a handful of San Diego media outlets sued to be made available - was lifted by Hayes.

In Hayes' brief 6-page order issued on March 9, he found pretrial publicity in San Diego to be less of a problem then in rural areas which typically experience obstacles in getting a fair trial. Hayes noted the Nehad trial is more than a year away and at this stage in the proceedings "the record does not demonstrate that the community is so saturated with prejudicial and inflammatory media publicity about the crime that the court would be unable to seat an impartial jury."

Nehad family attorney Skip Miller said the family filed the motion because they want to "alert the judge" as to what was going on with the public statements and press conferences by Dumanis. Miller said he had a talk with Hayes - who he said is sensitive to the issues in the case - and that if they are unable to appoint a fair jury when the time comes, the case will be transferred.

Miller said he is "seriously considering" reporting Dumanis to the State Bar Association over her conduct surrounding the Nehad shooting.

"The problem is the DA poisoned the environment twice. She went over the top as an advocate for the police and vilified the victim. She all but gave a closing argument for the police officer," Miller said.

Dumanis' office declined to comment, and the San Diego City Attorney's Office did not return a phone call requesting comment.

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