Community Shuts Down Valencia St. in Front of SFPD Mission Station; Puts Police on Trial

DirectActionMissionStation 2

Community Shuts Down Valencia St. in Front of SFPD Mission Station; Puts Police on Trial

SAN FRANCISCO– Over 200 people gathered in the early morning hours today and shut down Valencia Street in front of the San Francisco Police Department’s Mission District station. Sixteen activists locked themselves down for four hours and fifteen minutes, blocking the gate to the parking lot and chaining themselves to large-scale art work in front of the station. There, they held a people’s trial of the four officers who shot and killed Alex Nieto a year ago on Bernal Hill. Family members of people killed by police testified about the unjust, unresolved murders of their children.

Protestors also blocked a tech bus carrying ebay workers to highlight the connection between the violence of gentrification and the violence of police. Protesters assert that the targeting and racial profiling of poor people of color is directly linked to the forced displacement of residents in San Francisco.

Nancy Hernandez, a Bernal Heights resident said, “Gentrification has worsened police harassment of the working class community of color in San Francisco.” Protesters demand more resources be directed to family in need rather than increase the SFPD budget.

The action took place in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the killing of Alex Nieto by the SFPD. The demonstration was organized to protest the lack of a criminal indictment of the SFPD officers involved in the shooting and also highlighted the ongoing killings of people of color by police in communities across the nation.

Last month Nieto’s family had to relive the pain of his unjust death when District Attorney George Gascón cleared the four officers involved in the shooting of Nieto — Lt. Jason Sawyer and Officers Roger Morse, Richard Schiff and Nathan Chew.

In the last year since Nieto’s death, four more people have been killed by SFPD; Amilcar Perez Lopez, O’Shaine Evans, Matthew Hoffman, and Alice Brown.

Since 2000, there have been 97 officer-involved shootings resulting in 33 deaths. SFPD has found all those killings to be within policy, according to SFPD’s Internal Affairs Department. To our knowledge, none of these officers have been prosecuted by the District Attorney.

Today’s efforts were also part of the national Black Lives Matters movement and the public outcry against the killing of unarmed Black men by Police. According to a report released last year by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a black person is killed every 28 hours by a police officer, security guard, or self-appointed vigilantes. “We are here to put local faces to a national crisis,” said Juana Tello, a San Francisco native resident.

“We are here to give notice to the SFPD and other police departments across the country that our communities will not sit passively while we are targeted,” said Rebecca Ruiz-Lichter, from Idriss Stelley Foundation. “We deserve to live with dignity and we deserve justice, and to tell the City that with no consequences, we have no confidence.”

Words from Refugio and Elvira Nieto on the One Year Community Commemoration of Alex Nieto (English/Español)

Selfie by Alex with parents Refugio & Elvira

Words from Refugio and Elvira Nieto on the One Year Community Commemoration of Alex Nieto
March 21st, 2015, Mission District, San Francisco, CA

Here we are and it seems incredible that a year has transpired since Alex was taken from us.

I, Refugio, miss his jokes. Sometimes in the morning, he’d enter quietly into our room and rip the covers off of us. I also remember that he would squeeze me, hugging me from behind, and when I’d get mad at him, he’d smile and say, “Don’t get grumpy, old man.” Now, I wake up stiff. I must be missing his hugs.

I, Elvira, remember that he loved to eat: enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, barbequed goat, pork in green chile sauce, pinto and black beans, everything. I remember he would grab his belly, the rolls of fat, and say, “Mami, I’m going to exercise to lose weight!”

I, Refugio, remember that before Alex died we trusted in the police and the City government, but after Alex’s death and seeing the lies they told of him, we lost all trust. These days I think often that Alex was excited to go to Mexico in September to visit our town. It is the greatest and most painful sorrow that that journey did not take place.

I, Elvira, remember that the district attorney told us he was going to help us and in the end he said nothing could be done for us.

I, Refugio, remember in those first days after the death of Alex that his friends arrived —Ben Bac Sierra and María Villalta— to offer their help. Then Joey Vaez and Adriana Camarena.

I, Elvira, of those first days, remember nothing.

I, Refugio, remember that more of Alex’s friends gathered to help. I had never been to marches and I felt like I wanted to escape. I felt out of place in the crowd. Reporters and people greeted me and I felt confused. It took me months to understand why I was there. In those days, I would hear the doorbell ring late at night: Alex returning from his night shift. I would hear it clearly, but when I looked out the window, he would not be there.

I, Elvira, in those early days, would not even leave the house. We had never been to those protest things, despite Alex loving to support justice causes. I would wake up and ask “Is this a dream?” I felt he was there but he was not. I ask myself if it is worse to suffer the death of a loved one with a prolonged illness, but being able to see them, or an abrupt death such as Alex’s.

I, Elvira, remember that he was about to enter his internship at the Juvenile Hall to counsel youth. It was his great, greatest aspiration.

I, Refugio, remember that he had just completed his exams to take that job, but to motivate him I would say, “I don’t believe you. The facts will speak for themselves when you bring me your certificate.”

I, Elvira, remember when after his death we received his certificate of graduation from City College in time for Mother’s Day.

I, Refugio, remember telling Alex “Forgive me, son, for having doubted you.”

I, Refugio, gradually learned that it was important to march. Even though they gave us nothing, we were distracted from our anguish.

I, Elvira, realize that the police want us to stay real quiet, but protest marches are meant to awaken people. Since I was told that the officers who killed Alex will not face a criminal trial, the marches have become even more important.

I, Refugio, think that we have met so many very beautiful people at those marches. It was a pleasure to feel so much love for Alex. I would even put my hand on my chest to feel my heart flutter. I thought maybe I would die and would tell Elvira, “If I die, you have to carry on.” I would even feel embarrassed by so many people wanting to greet me. Those hugs would reach so deep inside me that sometimes tears would flow. It was and continues to be so lovely to see the people who are still accompanying us.

I, Elvira, see that we have met so many people who knew Alex, of whom we had no prior knowledge. I feel such pride that Alex was so loving and friendly with all people.

I, Refugio, feel it would be just for Alex’s killers to face trial and to be fired, but feel that justice might not be found by formal means. The only thing left to do is to continue learning who killed him. Let their faces be known.

I, Elvira, feel it should be known who are those officers and their exact reasons for killing Alex.

I, Refugio, want to see a change in the process, even if small, so that a sincere and unbiased investigation can be carried out. Why did they have to shoot him so many times as he lay on the ground?

I, Elvira, want to know exactly what happened that day and let the public know the type of police we have.

I, Refugio, give thanks that you still believe that we can have justice, and ask not to let yourselves be intimidated, since we do not know when this will end. It is not for us: It is for Alex and for the entire community, so that we learn to hold unity.

I, Elvira, give you thanks for helping us and continuing on with us.

Please join us for Alex Nieto’s One Year Community Commemoration, March 21, 2015
Facebook invite:
Alex Nieto’s One Year Community Commemoration, March 21, 2015

Palabras de Refugio y Elvira Nieto en la Primera Conmemoración Anual Comunitaria de Alex Nieto
21 de marzo de 2015, Mission District, San Francisco, CA

Aquí estamos y parece increíble que haya transcurrido un año desde que nos dejaron sin Alex.

Yo, Refugio, extraño sus bromas. A veces temprano en la mañana, entraba calladito al cuarto y nos arrancaba las cobijas. También recuerdo que me estrujaba, abrazándome por atrás y cuando me enojaba con él, me decía sonriendo, “No se me enoje, viejón.” Ahora amanezco todo tieso, me han de faltar sus abrazos.

Yo, Elvira, recuerdo que le encantaba comer: enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, chivito en barbacoa, carne de puerco en chile verde, frijoles pintos y negros, de todo. Recuerdo que se agarraba la panza, los rollos de lonja, y me decía “¡Mami, ya voy hacer ejercicio para perder de peso!”

Yo, Refugio, recuerdo que antes de que muriera Alex teníamos confianza en la policía y en el gobierno de la ciudad, pero con la muerte de Alex y viendo las mentiras que contaran a su muerte, se ha perdido toda confianza. En estos días pienso mucho en que Alex estaba emocionado de ir a México en Septiembre a visitar nuestro pueblo. Es lo más triste y doloroso que no se dio ese viaje.

Yo, Elvira, recuerdo que nos dijo el fiscal de distrito que nos iban ayudar y al final dijo que no podía hacer nada por nosotros.

Yo, Refugio, recuerdo que en esos primeros días después de la muerte de Alex llegaron los amigos de Alex —Ben Bac Sierra y María Villalta— a ofrecer su ayuda. Luego Joey Vaez y Adriana Camarena.

Yo, Elvira, en esos primeros días, no recuerdo nada.

Yo, Refugio, recuerdo que se fueron juntando otros amigos para ayudar. Yo nunca había estado en una marcha y yo me sentía que quería escapar. Me sentía fuera de lugar entre la gente. Los periodistas y la gente me saludaba y yo me confundía. Me tarde meses en entender porque estaba ahí. En esos días, escuchaba que sonaba el timbre, que era Alex regresando de su turno de noche. Lo escuchaba clarito pero al asomarme por la ventana, él no estaba ahí.

Yo, Elvira, en esos días, ni salía. Jamás habíamos estado en esas cosas de las marchas, siendo que Alex tanto le gustaba apoyar las causas de justicia. Yo despertaba y preguntaba “¿Será un sueño?” Sentía que él estaba ahí y luego no estaba. Me pregunto si será peor sufrir la muerte de un ser querido con una enfermedad larga, pero estar viéndolos, o una muerte así repentina como la de Alex.

Yo, Elvira, recuerdo que estaba él por entrar a su pasantía en el Juvenile Hall para aconsejar a los muchachos. Era su gran, gran ilusión.

Yo, Refugio, recuerdo que acaba de cumplir sus exámenes para tomar ese trabajo, pero yo le decía para motivarlo, “No te creo. Los hechos hablarán por si mismos cuando me presentes tu títulos.”

Yo, Elvira, recuerdo cuando después de su muerte nos llegó su certificado de cumplimiento de estudios de City College justo antes de Día de las Madres.

Yo, Refugio, recuerdo decirle a Alex “Discúlpame, mi hijo, por haber desconfiado.”

Yo, Refugio, fui aprendiendo que era importante marchar. Aunque no nos dieron nada, nos ayudaba a distraernos de nuestra angustia.

Yo, Elvira, me doy cuenta que la policía quiere que nos quedemos calladitos, pero esas marchas son para despertar a la gente. Desde que me dijeron que ya no van a enjuiciar penalmente a los policías, las marchas se han vuelto más importantes.

Yo, Refugio, pienso que hemos conocido tanta gente tan hermosa en las marchas. Era un placer sentir tanto amor para Alex. Hasta me ponía la mano sobre el pecho para sentir mi corazón palpitar. Pensaba que quizá me iba morir, y le decía a Elvira, “Si me muero, tienes que continuar.” Me sentía hasta apenado de tanta gente que venía a saludar. Esos abrazos me llegaban tan profundos que a veces se me escurrían las lágrimas. Muy bonito fue y sigue siendo ver a la gente que nos sigue acompañando.

Yo, Elvira, veo que hemos conocido a tanta gente que conocía a Alex de quienes nosotros ni sabíamos. Siento un orgullo que Alex fuese tan querendón y amistoso con todas las personas.

Yo, Refugio, siento que lo justo sería que enjuiciaran y que despidieran a los asesinos de Alex y siento que quizá ya no se dará la justicia por la via formal. Lo único que nos queda es seguir conociendo quienes fueron los que lo mataron. Qué se conozcan sus caras.

Yo, Elvira, siento que se debe conocer quiénes son esos policías y sus razones exactas por haber matado a Alex.

Yo, Refugio, quiero ver un cambio en el proceso, aunque sea pequeño, para que se dé una investigación sincera sin prejuicios. ¿Por qué le dieron tanto tiro estando él en el suelo?

Yo, Elvira, quiero saber exactamente qué sucedió ese día y que sepa el público que clase de policías tenemos.

Yo, Refugio, doy gracias por seguir creyendo que todavía puede haber justicia y que no se nos asusten porque no sabemos cuándo va acabar ésto. No es por nosotros, es por Alex y por toda la comunidad para aprender a llevar la unión.

Yo, Elvira, les doy las gracias por ayudarnos y seguir con nosotros.

Por favor acompañenos para la Primera Conmemoración Anual Comunitaria de Alex Nieto, 21 de marzo de 2015
Inivitación en Facebook:
Alex Nieto’s One Year Community Commemoration, March 21, 2015

Refugio & Elvira keep a mural of the legal process at 23/Folsom (courtesy of Red Poppy Art House.)

Refugio & Elvira keep a mural of the legal process at 23/Folsom (courtesy of Red Poppy Art House.)

We are exceeding our goal to help the Nieto Family!!!

Update March 23, 2015

Dear Community!

We are over the moon with your show of support. On the evening of Alex’s One Year Community Commemoration, thanks to the very generous donation of a Bernal Heights neighbor we met our goal to fund the purchase and placement of Alex’s headstone. Any other funds donated above the goal amount will directly help the Nieto Family. We will be campaigning for a commemorative bench to be placed at the Alex Nieto Memorial Site (location where he was killed on Bernal Heights Park.)

Thank you so much!

Hello Community!

We are excited to announce we are halfway to our goal of $2,000!

The GoFundMe account has gained momentum in the past 24 hours!

Overnight we reached the $1,000 mark!

Thank you so much on behalf of the Justice and Amore for Alex Nieto Coalition and his parents.

We are a step closer to Alex’s headstone!

Donate at our GoFundMe site by clicking below:

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 8.57.00 AM

“Amor for Alex” Film Premiere and Lowrider Show from Ben Bac Sierra



Amor is absurd. To promote it as the base for a movement is to embrace insanity. Love is too passionate and caliente—a burning trash can in the middle of the night.

Amor leads to ashes.

From ashes I came, to ashes I will return, so why fear or negate my own dust? I was born into San Fran streets where the superheroes were not Batman or Wolverine. The bad-asses were the lowriders, the cockroaches who cruised las calles proclaiming through their dance—in the face of so much despair and desperation–“We exist!” No doubt about their powers.

They convinced me of what I wanted, so before a book, or colorful medal, or a degree were my goals, my mission was a hood classic: a Regal, a 64, another Regal, a 66, and the Monte Carlo Knight. These were more than cars. They were magical spaceships that transported me to the sublime state that only cholos y cholas treasure. While everything else is all fucked up outside, inside your ranfla, you hold dignity, the souldies blasting—dragging you down into the blues but at the same time exorcising you from many difficult demons. Everyone else is walking or riding around pissed off or confused, but you in your vain ass ruby red gangster-mobile are authentic and clear—‘cause you are laughing and crying at the same time:

As I sit here thinking of you, and of the wonderful love we once knew even though you’ve gone away, my heart has gone with you!

And if you hit the switches just right, you can unlock the key to the universe, what every single brown bandido dreams—that lowriding is about more than just flexing your muscles and mad-dogging homeys on the block—you wish love, that loco y loca amorwhere you aint got shit but a couple of forties and each other rolling not knowing where you’re going—and that is all you’ve ever needed and wanted in this vida loca that you have tattooed green all over your buffed out arms.

Genius: vida loca lowriding is the freedom they never taught you about in school.

This Saturday, March 21, check out the lowriders in a new light. Look into the grills and admire the eyes of those who have been targeted and discounted yet continue to live with class and pride, as an example for us all. They are our history and potential, these OG’s with their pinta records, and pinche jobs, and businesses, and familias, and overwhelming abundance of amor for our gente.

In unprecedented fashion and style, the lowrider community, hundreds of cars deep, will literally lead the procession across San Fran to the film premiere of “Amor for Alex,” a film dedicated to our fallen lowrider brother Alejandro Nieto, who was shot at 59 times and killed by the San Francisco Police Department for eating his lunch in a gentrified neighborhood. At 7:00 p.m. we combine Aztec danzantes, a singer, a rapper, poets, activist leaders, art, and films to inspire a new breed of street stars, Renaissance Homeboys and Homegirls dedicated to the craziest mission of all: community amor.

The New America: We choose to do it not because it is not crazy; we do it precisely because it is loco.

Alex Nieto’s One Year Community Commemoration March 21, 2015

Alex Nieto Flyer One Year_001 (2)

Alex Nieto Flyer One Year_001Facebook invite: Alex Nieto’s One Year Community Commemoration, March 21, 2015

You are invited:

5pm Interfaith prayers with the Nieto Family
@Alex Nieto Memorial Site at Bernal Heights Park
Aztec Dancers – Catholic prayer – Buddhist chant

6pm Trail of Tears Procession. Bernal Heights Park→ Folsom Street→ 24th Street →Mission Street. We will lay flowers for the fallen to violence on our route. Bring your offerings.

7pm Film premiere of “Amor for Alex” with Nieto Family
@Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

Please note that pre-film events will start simultaneously at 5pm at MCCLA. See specific Facebook event Amor for Alex film premiere for details


ACLU: Alex Nieto, Black and Brown Lives, and the Need for Policing Reform


The ACLU published a blog piece “Alex Nieto, Black and Brown Lives, and the Need for Policing Reform” following the decision not to indict the officers involved in Alex Nieto’s death – connecting the dots between racially-motivated police brutality and the need for policing reform.

The Alex Nieto Coalition is excited about this blog and hope everyone will read below:

Alex Nieto, Black and Brown Lives, and the Need for Policing Reform

Last Friday, on the heels of recent decisions not to prosecute the officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office declined to criminally indict four SFPD officers who killed Alejandro “Alex” Nieto, a 28 year-old Latino male.

The officers fired 59 bullets at Nieto. At least 14 rounds landed and caused his death.

The D.A.’s Office concluded that the officers’ actions were “clearly reasonable” because Nieto was carrying his licensed Taser, which the officers mistook for a gun. He had the Taser because he was a security guard on his way to work.

The killing of Nieto, and other black and brown males, such as Tamir Rice and Ezell Ford, seems all too familiar.

Indeed, their deaths have made many wonder whether differences in the ways police interact with people of color and whites should be viewed as the product of systemic injustice, rather than mere lapses.

Would Nieto and others of color still be alive if they were white?

With fairer skin, would their deaths have been deemed legally justified in absence of prosecutions?

At least one recent poll gives credence to the idea that the results of these cases may have turned on race. It found that most Californians (55%) believe that blacks and other people of color are treated less equally than whites in the criminal justice system. Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, where Nieto was killed, are the most likely (62%) to hold that view.

This perspective is not restricted to everyday people. Last week, for instance, FBI Director James Comey declared that “[m]any people in our white-majority culture have unconscious racial biases and react differently to a white face than a black face.”

In light of this sentiment – that our system of justice is racially unjust – a pressing civil liberty issue for Californians to consider is what reforms would help ensure that marginalized people are more adequately protected?

To add, how might community trust in law enforcement be advanced?

Racial profiling

In 2000, California enacted a bill that banned racial profiling by law enforcement.

However, in 2002, Michelle Alexander, then-Director of the ACLU of Northern California’s Racial Justice Project, authored a report which found that our state’s racial profiling statute had no practical effect because it required nothing more than the constitutional minimum.

That same year, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) concluded that California’s definition of racial profiling was too vague. It added that, because of such vagueness, some law enforcement agencies resisted following the definition and recommended that it be revised.

Since then, the federal government, states and localities around the county have considered or adopted anti-profiling measures that seek to prevent discrimination by law enforcement through the following:

  • Expanding protected identity classifications beyond race and ethnicity to also include gender, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation.
  • Implementing data collection and analysis systems for stops, searches and seizures.
  • Requiring that information on profiling be publicly reported on a routine basis.
  • Providing a private right of action to victims of profiling.
  • Creating independent entities that investigate and audit police departments for illegal profiling patterns and practices, and propose reforms.

Use of force

In his speech, FBI Director Comey questioned whether Americans can “address concerns about ‘use of force’” and “officer-involved shootings if we do not have a reliable grasp on the demographics and circumstances of those incidents?”

He added that “we simply must improve the way we collect and analyze data to see the true nature of what’s happening in all of our communities.”

In California, all state and local law enforcement agencies must report any death that occurs in custody to our state Attorney General. Such reports include deaths that occur during arrest as a result of a use of force.

However, the Attorney General’s Office has not publicly disseminated the information it receives on a routine basis.

California can start resolving its law enforcement use of force problems through the following:

  • Expanding the existing reporting requirement from deaths in custody to also include any use of force that results in serious bodily injury.
  • Require that demographic information (such as race, gender, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation), along with the type of force used, be included in law enforcement agencies’ reports to the Attorney General.
  • Require the Attorney General to publicly release the use of force information it receives every year.

At bottom, the recent death of Nieto and many other people of color at the hands of police has exacerbated distrust in law enforcement.

In absence of public trust, the legitimacy of law enforcement is placed in question, if not downright undermined.

To restore confidence, and better understand how to improve community safety, robust reform and transparency on racial profiling and use of force policies and practices is necessary.

We cannot wait any longer.

Chauncee Smith is a Racial Justice Advocate with the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy.

Analysis and Evaluation of the DA’s Report Concluding No Charges by Ben Bac Sierra


Read DA Gascón’s report here: SFPD Incident 140240512

Contributing coalition member Ben Bac Sierra writes:

THE REAL NEWS ABOUT ALEX NIETO! Analysis and evaluation of the San Francisco District Attorney’s report deciding not to file criminal charges against San Francisco police officers who killed Alex Nieto on March 21, 2014.

Welcome to the real news!

Scholarship student and security guard Alex Nieto never pointed a taser at San Francisco Police Officers Sawyer and Schiff. There is at least one witness who saw everything and emphatically confirms that Alex Nieto never pointed a taser at officers. This witness was never interviewed for the district attorney’s report.

But for one moment let’s forget the witness. The district attorney’s report accepts the police department narrative: two veteran San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) police officers have their weapons drawn aiming directly at Alex Nieto who is eating a bag of chips walking down the hill. Both officers KNOW he has a firearm. These two READY police officers then allow Alex to square off with them, reach into his holster (they KNOW he has a gun), and they allow Alex to point this “gun” directly at them BEFORE they finally make the decision to start shooting at him 59 times.

This tale is ridiculous and unbelievable, yet they expect us to accept it.

There was no reason for Alex to have been shot at 59 times! This entire sham is a cover up to hide the SFPD’s incompetence, lack of fire discipline, and illegal and intimidating investigation. They will not take responsibility for killing an innocent, promising young man, Alex Nieto, our brother.

I was Alex’s best friend. For credibility purposes, so that you will not dismiss this as some illogical rant, I must provide you with credentials: I am a combat Marine Corps veteran. I hold a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley, a Master’s in English, and a Juris Doctor degree from U.C. Hastings. I have been a college professor for over a dozen years. I am a published author. You can trust that I have analyzed and evaluated this district attorney’s report not to file criminal charges against San Francisco Police Officers.

I now will begin an investigation into the report:

    • During an April 2014 meeting with me, the lawyer for the case, the Nieto family and the district attorney (D.A.) and his subordinates, San Francisco D.A. Gascon promised a thorough investigation regarding the entire shooting and its aftermath. He promised he would investigate the totality of the crimes involved with this shooting.
    • The DA did not thoroughly investigate or question the shooting itself, nor did he investigate the action of SFPD after the shooting—the illegal interrogation of the Nietos, the unlawful extraction of confidential medical records, the attempted warrantless search of the Nietos’ residence, the robbery and warrantless search of Alex Nieto’s car. Why did the police act in such a secretive manipulative manner if the shooting was justified? Why did the police claim to the media incorrect statements that Alex had a gun when they immediately knew, according to the DA report, that Alex had only a taser? This evidence must be examined and looked at as part of the totality of the crimes committed.
    • On page one and two of the report, there is a section dedicated to explaining an encounter with a dog owner witness who saw Alex on the day he was killed. This male witness has absolutely nothing to do with any police reporting about Alex. He never called 911. No police officers knew anything about this witness, so he should have no bearing on the officers’ response to the hill that day. Is the witness a licensed psychiatrist to determine whether a person who looks around at his environment is acting erratically? A trial would have led to this witness’s cross examination. I repeat: he does not contribute in any way to the police coming because he never contacted the police, and the police knew nothing about this witness or an altercation when they came with a military mindset to kill Alex.
    • On page one and two, an exchange between Alex and an uncontrollable dog is described. It is completely reasonable that Alex would have felt threatened by a large dog that was “following” and harassing him and not under the control of the owner. Alex even moved away from the dog to another set of benches in order to avoid conflict with the dog. Yet the dog persisted in harassing him. Alex even tried to wave the dog away. The dog barked aggressively and could not be controlled by the irresponsible owner. Aggressive dogs that do not pay attention to their owners can be a lethal threat to a person. Alex would have been fully justified in attempting to defend himself from this uncontrollable dog. This was a giant dog, yet its description is nowhere mentioned in the report. The DA report simply accepts the owner’s account of what happened, which is biased, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, completely irrelevant to the shooting because this owner never contacted police, perhaps because he knew he was to blame for his aggressive, uncontrollable, unleashed dog. Police knew nothing about this dog owner witness.
    • Alex must have been justifiably shaken from this dog attack.
    • According to page two of the report, two witnesses see Alex and believe he has a gun. He did not brandish it or point it. In fact according to the DA report, Alex did absolutely NOTHING to these two male witnesses who actually called the police. The witnesses do not even claim that Alex ever even looked at them!
  • According to the bottom of page two, no 911 call or radio dispatch claims Alex Nieto is doing anything that is erratic or violent. We now have confirmed evidence that Alex never threatened anyone, yet the SFPD rushed up to Bernal Hill in an aggressive military manner to kill someone.
  • On page three, according to Officer Sawyer, as Alex walked down the hill, he continued eating from his bag of chips. Consider Alex’s intent and mindset: he had no clue that anyone had called the police on him because he had done nothing wrong. He was minding his own business eating his chips. He did not imagine that the police were there for him. Any reasonable police officer seeing someone eating a bag of chips should have known that this person is not a violent threat. Yet they approach him in a daunting, life threatening manner with their guns drawn on him.
  • On page three of the report it states that when officers see Alex they believe he is the suspect. Officer Sawyer believes he sees a bulge under his jacket that may be a gun. Officer Schiff certainly sees what he believes is a holstered weapon.
  • Officers exit their patrol car with guns drawn on Alex.
    • They state that then Alex lifted his arms and exposed what appeared to them to be a holstered weapon.
  • Let’s review: They both now know that Alex Nieto has a pistol and they have their own guns aimed right at him; their weapons are drawn.
    • They then claim that Alex takes his weapon out of his holster and points it at both of the ready and trained officers, and the officers allow him to do this.
    • For argument’s sake, let us accept this narrative yet question it. If Alex had drawn his weapon, and the veteran police officers have their own pistols aimed right at him, and they justifiably believe he has a gun, why did they not immediately shoot when Alex even attempted to reach for his weapon? Why would trained police officers allow themselves to be tracked by someone with a gun?
    • This narrative is completely unbelievable. Once Alex would have reached for his weapon, officers would have immediately fired, especially since they already had their weapons drawn and pointed at him.
    • Why would Alex Nieto even point a taser at police officers when he has done nothing wrong? He is ready for work as a security guard (he’s scheduled in less than two hours). He has no criminal history and has never been arrested in his life.
    • On page three, why does the report reference the first shots fired by Officers Sawyer and Schiff as “a number of shots?” Why can’t they say exactly how many shots they fired at that moment and who fired first?
    • This D.A report’s summary of the shooting is completely inconsistent with the audio. There were first two shots and then there was a seven second pause. Then there was more firing, what we now know was a total of 59 shots!
  • On page four, why did Officer Morse “kick” the taser out of Alex’s hands? Why not take a picture at that moment?
  • According to page five, the police started shooting Alex at 7:18:40, and they claim that according to a memory device inside of the taser, that it was discharged at 7:18:45, 7:18:52, and 7:19:02. If this is accurate, and they claim that Alex is standing (from page three) during at least the 7:18:45 taser discharge, why didn’t police officers Sawyer and Schiff see that Alex would have discharged a taser that shot out a wire and darts, not bullets? Did Alex Nieto ever point a taser at officers if they could not see that he would have discharged an electric taser? Can it be possible that once the police began shooting, Alex then attempted to defend himself but did not even point the taser at the officers? Perhaps a bullet struck the taser?
  • Is lack of fire discipline by these police officers the real problem that occurred? Throughout this entire shooting, they did not have fire discipline and thought they were at the Wild West and could not tell they were in absolutely no danger from Alex.
  • On page four, Officer Morse states he thought “Mr. Nieto was firing at them when he heard popping sounds and saw what he thought were muzzle flashes.” Officer Morse cannot tell that it is only officers who are shooting because no one is taking responsibility for fire control or calling for a cease fire. Officer Morse completely imagines that there are muzzle flashes coming from Alex, but that is impossible because Alex Nieto does not have a firearm.
  • The San Francisco Police Officers were reckless in the way they fired their weapons, not taking into account possible civilian victims. They could not even find all of their bullet casings or other evidence from the taser.
  • Now we move onto the SFPD’s cover up and illegal investigation:
  • After the killing of Alex Nieto, why did SFPD tell the media that Alex had a gun when they knew that he only had a taser? They knew then that that was a lie, but it was a way to buy time for their cover up, which began in earnest after the unlawful killing.
  • There were only two officers who supposedly saw Alex draw his taser. We know of at least one witness who states certainly that Alex Nieto never pointed a taser. Why didn’t the district attorney interview this witness?
  • On page six of the report, the police claim that Alex should have known not to point a taser at officers because he owned a CD version of the taser’s operating manual “that was located in Mr. Nieto’s car.” How did police obtain that CD? The day after the unlawful killing SFPD stole Alex Nieto’s car and performed a warrantless search of it. THE D.A. IS USING AN ILLEGALLY OBTAINED CD FROM ALEX’S CAR AS EVIDENCE FOR WHY THEY WILL NOT PROSECUTE OFFICERS AND TO FURTHER DEFAME ALEX NIETO! Why isn’t the police department’s stealing of Alex’s car seen as suspicious?
  • The day after the killing, SFPD investigators are sent to intimidate the Nieto family. They attempt a warrantless search of the residence and extract information that they use to slander and smear Alex Nieto. Through their intimidating investigation of the Nietos, the SFPD found that Alex had medical records at San Francisco General Hospital.
  • How did confidential medical records get released in less than three days (for Chief of Police Greg Suhr’s town hall meeting on Tuesday, March 25, 2014) without authorization? Who authorized this release of confidential medical records? Releasing confidential medical information is a crime.
  • We were guaranteed that the D.A. would investigate the totality of the crimes involved, yet he focused on the singular shooting AND Alex’s irrelevant past. The officers knew nothing about Alex when they approached him on March 21. Now it is confirmed: No broadcast to police or 911 call gives any negative description about Alex Nieto.

I have had less than 20 hours to prepare this statement. The San Francisco District Attorney had 10 months to investigate and to write a flawed eight page report.

This is the real news.

Amor for Alex,

Benjamin Bac Sierra, M.A., J.D.

Alex Nieto at Accion Latina

The Broken System: No consequence, no confidence. A response to the non-indictment of Alex Nieto’s killers. 

Alex Nieto banner2

The Nieto Family refused to meet with D.A. Gascón today to receive the disappointing and all predictable news: no charges filed against the killers of Alex Nieto. We stand with the Nieto Family by turning our backs on the criminal justice system too.

Call out to supporters: Meet at the steps of 850 Bryant at 2pm.

A response to the non indictment of the officers who killed Alex Nieto…


It doesn’t work to have the police investigate themselves.

It doesn’t work to have prosecutors, who are colleagues of police, lead investigations into police crimes.

It doesn’t work to have a former Chief of Police act as prosecutor in a police shooting.

It doesn’t work to reward and promote officers who are suspects in an open investigation.

It doesn’t work to have a police union that bullies democratic institutions into publicly protecting a cover-up.

It doesn’t work to have legal standards that always favor police version of events.

It doesn’t work to have a Mayor who has been AWOL in the face of Alex Nieto’s brutal killing by his police force.

It doesn’t work to petition the State for redress when the consequence is always impunity.

Today we abandon any expectation that the officers who killed Alex Nieto will be held personally accountable according to law.

Today we turn our backs on San Francisco’s criminal justice system, because it turned its back on us.

As far as police shootings go, we have no more confidence in the City government.

With the absence of an indictment in the case of Alex Nieto, it is the government institutions themselves that must be put on public trial.

The lack of a criminal indictment does not mean a lack of consequences for the officers who killed Alex Nieto. Today begins the public trial and public shaming of his killers and their accomplices:

Lieutenant Jason Sawyer you are a killer.

Officer Roger Morse you are a killer.

Officer Richard Schiff you are a killer.

Officer Nathan Chew you are a killer.

Chief of Police Greg Suhr you are an accomplice to killers.

District Attorney George Gascón you are an accomplice to killers.

Mayor Ed Lee you are an accomplice to killers.

You are declared guilty by the people, guilty by our community.

We will continue to shine light on this broken system until police officers who kill are made personally accountable by standards satisfactory to the communities in which they kill.

This public trial will not end until the system that doesn’t work is fixed.

No consequence, no confidence.

San Francisco, CA
Friday February 13th, 2014

Who killed Alex Nieto? A people’s investigation…

Website Officers Photo_001

Who killed Alex Nieto? A people’s investigation…

Below is the most current information about the officers involved in the shooting of Alex Nieto. We will continuously update this post as we learn more.

You can help! Community members often provide the most valuable information about officers in their communities. Should you have any information regarding the behavior of the officers involved in the shooting of Alex Nieto, on or off duty, please contact:

Adante Pointer
Law Offices of John Burris



Four shooters and two other officers present at shooting

Since the Town Hall meeting in March 2014, we’ve known that a sergeant and three other officers killed Alex Nieto. More than nine months later, in January 2015, we learned their names:

Lt. Jason Sawyer

Sgt. (now Lt.) Sawyer, photo posted by California's Deadliest Cops on Facebook

Sgt. (now Lt.) Sawyer, photo posted by California’s Deadliest Cops on Facebook

  • Commanding officer at the shooting of Alex Nieto.
  • First to arrive and respond: Chief Greg Suhr revealed at a Town Hall meeting in March 2014 that a sergeant and an officer from Ingleside Station were the first to arrive. Therefore, Sgt. Sawyer was one of two officers first to encounter Alex Nieto.
  • In 1998, Sawyer and Officer Furminger were involved in the questionable shooting of John Smart. (Furminger was also one of the killers of Idriss Stelley in 2001; Furminger was later convicted on federal felony charges in December 2014.)
  • Received medals of valor for the 1998 shooting (not confirmed if actually awarded) and again in 2008 (incident for award unknown)
  • Sgt. Sawyer promoted to Lt. Sawyer after Alex Nieto’s killing, stationed now at Park Station.

News quote:

Lt. Sawyer, now of Park station, was a sergeant at the time of the shooting and a longtime veteran of the department. In 1998, he was involved in the fatal shooting of ad executive John Smart after Smart allegedly used his Mercedes-Benz to pin Officer Ian Furminger to a parking meter.

Both officers were awarded the gold medal of valor for their involvement in the 1998 shooting, though an internal investigation and Office of Citizens Complaints probe had not been completed. Furminger was convicted last month of taking and dividing up thousands of dollars found during searches of drug dealers and their homes, and depriving suspects of their rights. ” (Source: SF Gate)

Officer Roger Morse

Of. Morse, photo posted by California's Deadliest Cops on Facebook

Of. Morse, photo posted by California’s Deadliest Cops on Facebook

Mission Local reports that in 2008 Morse and his partner crashed their cruiser into a liquor store at 3:30am. We do not know if these officers faced any consequence.

Officers Roger Morse and Nicholas Suslow had been responding to an assignment near the corner of Geneva Avenue and Vienna Street around 3:30 a.m. when their car slammed into a light pole, a tree, and the front of a liquor store before coming to rest on the sidewalk, according to San Francisco police Lt. Frank Lee.

The light pole in turn shattered the window of a second-floor apartment, narrowly missing a crib with a sleeping baby. (Source: Mission Local, SF Gate)

Officer Richard Schiff


Officer Nathan “Nate” Chew

All we know so far is that Chew plays basketball, a lot, on police officer teams according to POA newsletters…

We’re waiting to learn more about…

Other officers present during the shooting

Officers who secured homicide scene

Officers who carried out homicide investigation, harassing Nieto family in the process

Will there be a criminal indictment?

Police officers can only discharge their weapons when officers hold an objectively reasonable belief that there is a serious threat to their safety or the safety of another person. However, the definition of an “objectively reasonable belief” is determined based on what another officer might believe, not what a reasonable person (like yourself or one of us) might believe. Therefore, we are caught in a Catch-22 that favors police impunity.

In the vast majority of cases, district attorneys find no evidence to indict police officers who kill people, because they nearly always find that an officer acted “reasonably.” This has been seen in recent cases, such as the killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Andy Lopez and Yanira Serrano-Garcia. Our District Attorney George Gascón has yet to declare whether he will pursue an indictment.

Community knows that an injustice has been committed already, but the law has to catch-up. The Alex Nieto Case already set a legal precedent regarding police anonymity, perhaps we can help establish another to end police impunity.

Learn more about our petition for an independent federal investigation.

What is the evidence that a crime was committed?

The Alex Nieto case provides some evidence that police officers acted unlawfully. The most compelling and uncontroversial evidence so far of an unlawful killing of Alex Nieto are the following facts:
(1) Alex was killed by two distinct volleys of shots.
(2) Alex was alive, wounded, and on the ground after the first round of shots were fired.
(3) After an approximate 6 second pause, officers mentioned above decide to shoot again, until Alex stops moving. (Source: Audio from home security camera recording; Greg Suhr at Town Hall Meeting; witnesses)

The above are uncontested facts, whether you believe police version of events or the facts as presented in the Federal Criminal Case filed by the Nietos. This means that Alex Nieto was killed after he was wounded and fell to the ground.

We believe there is no evidence that Alex presented any threat at all, before or once the shooting began.

(4) The autopsy report supports the narrative that two sets of shots were fired. There are four upward trajectory non-lethal wounds to Alex’s wrists, right leg, and arm. There are eleven downward trajectory shots to his face, chest, and back.

We believe the second set of shots killed Alex Nieto. Furthermore, seven of those eleven downward shots are in a direct head to toe direction to his left temple, top of left shoulder, lumbar and chest. The eleven downward trajectory shots, but particularly those seven astonishing shots, indicate to us that Alex was in a completely defenseless position, when he was actually killed. The deliberate decisions of officers to kill him, when he was already on the ground and wounded, could imply criminal intent and therefore murder.

Learn more about the facts and opposing versions of events by reading Alex’s Story.

Remember: You can help us learn more about these officers!

Should you have any information regarding the behavior of the officers involved in the shooting of Alex Nieto, on or off duty, please contact:

Adante Pointer
Law Offices of John Burris



Making legal history! Nieto Case sets limits on police anonymity!

NIETO COMPLAINT Offices John Burris_001

Anonymity: SFPD acted against public interest and the interest of justice for more than nine months

For more than nine months, SFPD acted against public interest and against the interest of justice by hiding the names of the police officers involved in Alex Nieto’s killing. Supporters of Justice4AlexNieto have been saying this from the beginning. Guess what? The justice system and legal scholars agreed with us. Community knows best…!

Release of officers’ names: The breakthrough in SFPD’s cover-up campaign also shapes a judicial precedent

Monday marked the deadline set by a federal judge in the Nieto Family’s civil rights case against the City & County of San Francisco (the “Federal Civil Case”) to end the confidentiality under which SFPD, and subsequently the City Attorney, held those names for more than nine months.

According to Chief Greg Suhr himself, SFPD policy in an officer-involved shooting is to reveal the names of the officers immediately. (Source: Interview on 1010AM Hecho en California.) This policy of transparency was already backed by a CA Supreme Court resolution from March 2014 (the “Long Beach Case”) which ruled that the names of officers are not confidential, unless exceptional circumstances require otherwise. (Please read the article below on the Long Beach Case.)

After Alex Nieto was killed, SFPD claimed that a “credible threat” to officers’ safety impeded them from revealing the names of the officers involved in his shooting. On November 12th, 2014, the nature of that “credible threat” was made public by Chief Greg Suhr. Chief Suhr’s explained in an interview on 1010am Hecho en California that the threat was made:
(1) shortly after Alex was killed
(2) on social media (rumor says, on Facebook, but police now say a phone call was also made)
(3) by someone living outside the country (rumor says, in Mexico), and
(4) by someone known to SFPD (implying they were keeping tabs on him.)

This alleged “credible threat” and the Long Beach Case were put to the test during the discovery phase of the Federal Civil Case. Presiding Magistrate Judge Cousins did not find the alleged threat sufficiently credible to continue hiding the names from public knowledge. Among other things, Magistrate Cousins considered plaintiff’s argument that keeping the names confidential not only went against public interest, but also against the interest of justice, given that confidentiality would place the Nieto Family’s attorney (Adante Pointer) in an impossible situation to carry out an independent investigation without revealing the names or restricting him to information exclusively obtained from SFPD or the City Attorney. The result would have been a lopsided case in which the City Attorney became ‘master of the case’ to the detriment of justice.

Ultimately, Magistrate Cousins saw no end in sight for such a vague threat affecting the judicial process:

Cousins said that without a more straightforward timeline for the threats to be resolved, the anonymity could continue indefinitely, making it prudent to set a date for the protective order to expire since it limits the plaintiff’s ability to investigate the case. (Source: Mission Local on 12/22/2014 discovery hearing)

The Alex Nieto Case: Legal history in the making! Legal scholars are paying attention.

Below is an extract from Alex Emslie’s KQED report regarding the Long Beach Case “Supreme Court Ruling Paved Way for Release of SFPD Names in Nieto Killing.”

A Credible Threat

The Supreme Court ruled that “generally, the public has a right to know the identity of an officer involved in an on-duty shooting.” But, the ruling says, “We do not hold that the names of officers involved in shootings have to be disclosed in every case, regardless of the circumstances.”

The circumstances involve what the Supreme Court majority calls “particularized,” or specific, evidence that “it is essential to protect an officer’s anonymity for safety reasons or for reasons peculiar to the officer’s duties.”

UC Hastings law Professor David Levine said there have been very few, if any, cases that have tested the disclosure requirements laid out in the Long Beach decision.

He said the Nieto case is “one of the first cases, if not the first case, to test the ruling in the Long Beach case, especially in the context that we’ve seen this heightened sensitivity in these police shooting cases.”

“How are you going to say these are credible threats when this person isn’t even in the damn country?” Pointer said. “If that’s the precedent, any whacko could make a threat, and the police could say this guy made a threat two years ago, and we don’t have to release the information.”

Levine said in light of the Long Beach ruling, it’d be difficult to reach another conclusion.

“The case comes down so strongly in favor of disclosure, I can see why the magistrate would reach that conclusion,” he said. “Unless you thought that it was both credible and imminent, meaning in a pretty short time frame, the values of disclosure that the Long Beach case expresses are going to outweigh the vagueness of a less credible threat. But if you’re wrong, and then the name is released, and within a relatively short period of time, we find ourselves with another officer murdered, that’s a really tough decision for a judge.”

Who are these officers? You can help us know more.

To learn more about the officers involved in the shooting of Alex Nieto, please check our new post dedicated to revealing their background. This page will be continuously updated as we learn more also.

Community members often provide the most valuable information about officers’ behavior in their communities. Should you have any information regarding the behavior of these officers in community, on or off duty, please contact:

Adante Pointer
Law Offices of John Burris



Lisa Ganser, new neighbor, has a message about how to be a good new neighbor in the highly gentrified neighborhoods of Bernal and the Mission.

Lisa Ganser, new neighbor, has a message about how to be a good new neighbor in the highly gentrified neighborhoods of Bernal and the Mission.

Press conference statement! On release of names of officers who killed Alex Nieto

1.5.2015 Supporters attend press conference on release of officers' names

Yesterday, Monday January 5th, 2014, supporters gathered for a press conference at the Alex Nieto Memorial in the Alex Nieto Memorial Park (previously known as Bernal Heights Park) to address the release of the names of the officers who killed Alex Nieto. Below is the statement released by Ben Bac Sierra, a main supporter of the justice cause for Alex Nieto. The Nieto Family and their attorney Adante Pointer were also present at the press conference.

Press conference statement on behalf of supporters by Ben Bac Sierra

1.5.2015 Ben Bac Sierra makes statement on behalf of supporters on release of officers' names.

1.5.2015 Ben Bac Sierra makes statement on behalf of supporters on release of officers’ names.


The names of the shooting officers who killed Alex Nieto have been released. They are

Jason Sawyer
Richard Schiff
Roger Morse and
Nathan Chew.

We, the community, celebrate the release of these names as a victory because the officers’ names had been unlawfully hidden from us for nine months. Because of our marching, organizing, lowriding, poetry, speeches, sharing of meals, writing, and Amor for Alex Nieto, San Francisco was forced by us and one U.S. federal judge to obey the United States Constitution.

Of course, now we will learn more about these officers’ records and experiences, and we will also begin to unravel the truth of what happened on this hill on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:18 p.m., less than two hours before Alex Nieto’s shift as a security guard who was licensed to carry a taser. Police reports, witness statements, and depositions will follow. But before we waste any more precious time and energy, we propose this to the machinery of San Francisco:

Stop this torture of the family and community. Stop this circus of injustice. Tell the truth: Alex Nieto never pointed any taser at police officers. You insult our intellect and attempt to hurt us by spreading lies. You make us distrustful of who you are to us, the community.

San Francisco Police Department, protect and serve us by telling the truth. Confession is liberation for a brave soul. Do not honor a dishonorable code of silence. Officers Sawyer, Schiff, Morse, and Chew, officers who witnessed this killing, officers who responded to the scene of this crime and heard and saw the cover up; confess and protect those who are most victimized, your human brown and black brothers and sisters.

San Franciscans, do not allow yourself to be repeatedly embarrassed by the United States federal government. You should be able to manage your own affairs. Mayor Ed Lee, demonstrate leadership through the example of Mahatma Gandhi’s truth force. You are the elected mayor of San Francisco! District Attorney Gascon, recuse yourself from the Alex Nieto case. You were the former San Francisco chief of police and cannot objectively process this prosecution.

Thank you for your attention, and Amor for Alex Nieto!



1.5.2015 Supporters attend press conference on release of officers' names

1.5.2015 Supporters attend press conference on release of officers’ names

Who are the officers?

To learn more about the officers involved in the shooting of Alex Nieto, please check our new post dedicated to revealing their background. Should you have any information regarding the behavior of these officers in community, on or off duty, please contact:

Adante Pointer
Law Offices of John Burris


1.5.2015 Alex Nieto Memorial site during press conference

1.5.2015 Alex Nieto Memorial site during press conference