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
adante.pointer@johnburrislaw.com
510-839-5200

or

info@justice4alexnieto.org

Thanks!

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

N/A

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?

Not from the District Attorney of San Francisco, who in February 2015 declared that he would not pursue charges against the officers, despite having found that they discharged FIFTY NINE BULLETS at Alex Nieto. More information on the D.A.’s decision here…

Why do D.A.’s rarely pursue a criminal indictment?

The simple answer is that the D.A. represents the State (not the victims) in pursuing criminal investigations. Police officers are agents of the State, and therefore, there is an inherent contradiction in the D.A. acting against the interests of the party it represents. The myth is that the D.A. represents the victims of homicides (and derivative victims like family of homicide victims). It does not. It represents the interests of the State.

How does the law or judicial precedents make it specially hard to indict officers?

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?

Nevertheless, 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
adante.pointer@johnburrislaw.com
510-839-5200

or

info@justice4alexnieto.org

Thanks!

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
adante.pointer@johnburrislaw.com
510-839-5200

or

info@justice4alexnieto.org

Thanks!

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.

PRESS CONFERENCE STATEMENT:

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!

Amor!

 

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
adante.pointer@johnburrislaw.com
510-839-5200

or

info@justice4alexnieto.org

1.5.2015 Alex Nieto Memorial site during press conference

1.5.2015 Alex Nieto Memorial site during press conference

Press conference! Call to Community Action! Names of killer cops now known! 2pm, Alex Nieto Memorial Site

2014.8.22 March Press Collage_001

Press conference: Names released of officers who killed Alex Nieto!

Joined by the Nieto family, we will make a public statement about the shooting officers’ names finally being revealed.

Press Conference on Monday, 1-5-15
Names released of officers who killed Alex Nieto
Today at 2:00pm
Alex Nieto Memorial Site, Alex Nieto Memorial Park
(formerly Bernal Heights Park in San Francisco, California)

FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE HERE

Supporters welcome!

Please come today to the Alex Nieto Memorial Site at the Alex Nieto Memorial Park (previously known as Bernal Heights Park) to show your support for Justice 4 Alex Nieto at a press conference!

Names of killer cops finally released after more than 9 months of community pressure and legal action!

Today is the official court date of release of the names of the officers who killed Alex Nieto and two other officers present at the shooting. For nine months community members have been clamoring for the release of these names. In a false show of transparency, SFPD leaked the names to the press last Friday January 2nd, 2014. These names were ordered to be made public by a federal court judge, because the excuse used by SFPD for the previous nine months held no legal grounds. This is a community victory!

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

SFPD and the City have been involved in a cover-up campaign since the start. It therefore comes as no surprise that Sgt. Jason Sawyer, who was the commanding officer at the scene and first to respond, was previously involved in another questionable shooting in 1998 with Officer Furminger, the later convicted on federal felony charges just last month. (Furminger was also one of the killers of Idriss Stelley in 2001.) Sgt. Sawyer was promoted to Lt. after he killed Alex Nieto.

We’ve also learned that Officer Roger Morse, in 2008, crashed his cruiser with his partner into a liquor store at 3:30am without admonishment of consequence that we know about.

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

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

 

The police officers who perpetuated Alex Nieto’s unwarranted killing will finally get the close public scrutiny they deserve.

Let’s hope justice follows…

Come be part of a movement to end police impunity in San Francisco! Join us on the Hill today to express your solidarity.

Thank you!

 

Community victory! Officers who killed Alex Nieto are named, public scrutiny follows

Jason Sawyer receives medal of valor. Photo Credit: Sf Gate, Brant Ward

Community victory! Officers who killed Alex Nieto finally named!

Today Friday, SFPD revealed to media outlets the names of the officers responsible for killing Alex Nieto. The four officers who killed Alex Nieto are

Sgt. Jason Sawyer

Officer Roger Morse

Officer Richard Schiff, and

Officer Nathan Chew.

The release of the officers’ names is a victory achieved through nine months of constant community pressure for transparency and accountability in the police killing of Alex Nieto, backed by solid legal action. By order of a federal court judge, the names of these four officers and two other officers present during the shooting were going to be made public on Monday January 5th, 2015.  (On Monday we’ll learn the names of the other two officers who were present at the shooting of Alex Nieto, but who did not discharge their weapons.)

2014.12.3 Alex Nieto Rally We Want Names June Jordan

June Jordan students stand with the Nietos at a rally outside the federal courthouse demanding “We Want Names!” 12.3.2014

 

SFPD’s cover-up stumbles

SFPD and the City have carried out a cover-up campaign since Alex Nieto was shot to death over fourteen times on March 21, 2014. We believe they are hiding evidence and information relevant to his shooting. A court order was necessary to get them to release the names of the officers they insistently kept out of the public eye. It therefore comes as no surprise that Sgt. Jason Sawyer, who was the commanding officer at the scene and first to respond, was previously involved in another questionable shooting alongside Officer Furminger, the later convicted on federal felony charges just last month. (Furminger was also one of the killers of Idriss Stelley in 2001.)
Sgt. Sawyer was promoted to Lt. Sawyer after Alex Nieto’s killing.

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)

On Officer Roger Morse, Mission Local reports that in 2008 he and his partner crashed their cruiser into a liquor store at 3:30am without 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)

The police officers who perpetuated Alex Nieto’s unwarranted killing will finally get the close public scrutiny they deserve. Let’s hope justice follows…

Nieto Family happy to gain a first step towards transparency

Elvira and Refugio Nieto, parents of Alex, expected to learn the names of the officers who killed their son on Monday January 5th, 2014, when the confidentiality order would be lifted. The parents however learned this critical information about Alex’s death once again based on media reports, rather than through responsible communication by SFPD and the City.  This is the pattern established since Alex was killed.  SFPD moves in the shadows, abusing their power to create a smear campaign about Alex Nieto, while hiding relevant information about the shooting.

Supporters delivered the news to Elvira and Refugio Nieto. The Nietos were very happy to learn about the release of names. In the words of Elvira, “…this is one step forward towards knowing what happened that day on the Hill.” Refugio Nieto praised the labor of supporters who joined them in demanding the truth about Alex’s killing.

The large yellow banners bearing Alex Nieto’s that were placed atop Bernal Heights Park on his 9th month anniversary were still flying high today.

The truth shall set us free.