Body cameras not used in recent fatal officer-involved shootings

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – More than half of the San Diego Police Officers on patrol are now equipped with body cameras.

But what about the rest of the officers and what happens if they don't have a camera? Especially when there's a fatal shooting.

San Diego is the largest city in the United States to equip its officers with body-worn cameras, but in two recent officer-involved shootings, the cameras were not used.

The officer who fired the fatal shot on Thursday, killing a 60-year-old man in Black Mountain Ranch was not equipped with a body-worn camera. 

San Diego Police responded to a condo complex in the 14000 block of Via Fiesta when someone in the complex called to say a man was assaulting him.

When patrol officers responded, one officer opened fire after the assault suspect began to charge at one of the police officers with a knife.

The incident was not recorded because the officer is from the Northwest Division, a division that is waiting to receive the cameras later this month.

A body-worn camera was present, but not in use when 42-year-old Fridoon Zalbeg Rawshannehad was killed in the Midway District in May. The officer who discharged the fatal shot said he fired when Rawshannehad moved toward him, flashing a shiny object, initially believed to be a knife. 

It turned out to be some other sort of object. The officer in this deadly shooting was wearing a camera, but did not turn it on during the incident. 

On Monday, Chief Shelley Zimmerman explained that more than half of the police force has been equipped with body-worn cameras and the rest should be provided with the device in the next few months.

"The new fiscal year starts July 1. With this new budget, we'll be able to issue body-worn cameras for almost every officer with a uniformed patrol assignment," Chief Zimmerman said.

The chief is a big supporter of the cameras, citing stats that say complaints against the police have decline by 40 percent and there's been a 46 percent decline in the use of force. 

Some might say it's hard to gauge the success of the program at this point when not everyone is using the cameras and if some officers are not during them on.

After the deadly shooting in the Midway District, the Chief announced a change in the policy, requiring all officers to turn the cameras on prior to their arrival on a radio call. 

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