Drawing based on the Autopsy Report
Last month, the Medical Examiner’s Office released a (sloppy) autopsy report to the media, without giving the Nieto Family the detailed report. The Nieto Family received a one page summary, while the media received the complete report.
For Alex’s 7th month anniversary (today 10/21/2014) of being killed by SFPD officers, we’ve completed a drawing based on the information in the autopsy. We’re not forensic medics, but we’ve done our best to follow the information in the autopsy report to recreate the path of the entry wounds. The Autopsy Report is publicly available, so you can check our drawing and analysis against the original.
Analysis of Autopsy Report
There are four upward trajectory wounds. These likely correspond to initial shots fired uphill by officers at Alex. The wounds would indicate that Alex had his hands up (either surrendering or raising hands for cover). Besides these upward shots to the wrists and left arm, there is an upward shot to his right leg. The wound to the leg would explain Greg Suhr’s account that Alex fell to the ground after initial shots fired. Alive, but wounded and on the ground, officers subsequently fired a series of downward shots (direction head to toe) that killed Alex, even if he was not a threat to officers or anyone else. Downward shots when Alex was already on the ground can imply criminal intent and murder.
We believe this is a crime. Not only was Alex defenseless and down on the ground, but executing him was a deliberate, calculated decision by officers involved. The audio of the shots shows a six second pause, in which officers had time to think, before opting to release a deadly volley of shots on Alex. (Listen to audio below.)
Sequence of Shots
Upward bullet wounds K, L, M and N: While we are not certain of the sequence of all shots, we feel confident that Alex was first shot in the right leg, left wrist and arm, and right wrist (graze). These upward shots would indicate that he was upright and his hands were raised in surrender or perhaps instinctively raised for cover in a fetal position reaction.
These wounds are consistent with reports of shots fired uphill at Alex without sufficient warning. The wound to the right leg and contusions to his left knee would be consistent with accounts (by Chief Suhr and Lawsuit Witnesses) that Alex fell to the ground after initial shots fired. These upward shots (marked in blue) are not fatal wounds.
The rest of the shots were fired in a downward trajectory (marked in red), i.e. with officers firing from above Alex.
Downward bullet wound B: Alex was shot in the top right lip in a straight downward direction. The shot lodges in his mandible. This shot is also not fatal, even if extremely shocking.
Downward (head to toe direction) bullet wounds A, C, D+E (3 shots), I and J: The autopsy next shows six wounds caused by seven downward trajectory shots entering Alex in a head to toe direction: left temple, three to the left shoulder, one each to the right and left chest, and one to the back (lodging in L3.) The seven downward trajectory shots can be explained in two ways:
(1) Alex was shot in the back and fell onto his back, while officer(s) approaching from the back continued to shoot in a downward trajectory from head to toe, or
(2) Alex fell forward, over his knees, defenseless, while officer(s) approaching from the front continued to shoot at him straight on even if he must have been reclined and not presenting any threat whatsover.
Please note that eyewitness accounts mentioned in the Federal Lawsuit state that while Alex was first encountered by officers who jumped out of a police car downhill from him, armed officers had also gathered on the footpath behind him. If Alex was shot from behind after he was already on the ground, it is truly incomprehensible what type of threat he could have presented to officers shooting him in the back. Only through full discovery will we be able to understand, which officers were positioned behind and in front of him, and which officers shot these downward shots into Alex.
Either way, it is evident that Alex suffered multiple execution-style shots once he was incapacitated and on the ground. Alex Nieto could have survived the initial upward shots fired had officers not paused and deliberately decided to silence him. The downward series of shots seem to imply a criminal intent that cannot be justified by SFPD nor the City.
Downward bullet wounds F, G and H: The remaining three shots are explained by officers flanking Alex left and right once he is down, and shooting downward, from the sides into his right and left arms and left chest. The left side shots enter his left lung and pleural cavity, while the right side shot lodges back into his right scapula.
We hope that this information helps to understand the unlawful act committed by officers against Alex Nieto. Alex’s Story brings into question the legitimacy of a City government that defends lethal unwarranted violence from its police force. We continue to hope for full transparency and accountability, and express our desire for a government that increases human services for its residents, rather than force.