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:
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
- 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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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:
Law Offices of John Burris