WHO WAS ALEX NIETO?
Alex Nieto was born and raised in the Bernal Heights and Mission districts. He was a beloved son and brother, and an active peaceful member of the community. He was an accomplished:
- Full-time scholarship student at CCSF, earning a criminal justice degree and applying for transfer to a 4 year college program
- Full-time security guard at El Toro nightclub
- Provider for his family
- Practicing Buddhist pacifist
- Prior intern at the Youth Guidance Center’s Probation Department
- Member of the Mission Peace Collaborative
- Campaign volunteer in federal and local elections (Tom Ammiano, Bill Clinton, etc.)
- Volunteer at youth organizations (Coleman Advocates, HOMEY, etc.)
- Community event participant and organizer (Carnaval, poetry readings, etc)
Alex dreamt of helping guide youth in a positive direction, which is why he aspired to become a probation officer. He had a gigantic heart, and everyone loved him for his intellect, gentleness, and kindness.
Alex is survived by his loving parents and brother. [Learn more about the Nieto Family.]
SFPD MURDERED ALEX NIETO
On Friday evening, March 21, 2014, Alejandro “Alex” Nieto, 28 years old, was killed when he was struck by 14 to 15 bullets (of a total of 59 shots) fired by four San Francisco Police Department officers, on Bernal Hill Park, without justification. The officers who killed Alex Nieto are: Sgt. Jason Sawyer (then lieutenant), Officer Roger Morse, Officer Richard Schiff, and Officer Nathan Chew. (Read more about the 9 month struggle to obtain their names here.)
Alex was enjoying his dinner near a bench with a sunset view to Twin Peaks, dressed for his security guard shift with his licensed taser at his hip. He was also wearing his elegant new 49ers jacket, and minding his own business.
A dogwalker called 911 simply because he didn’t like the sight of this young Latino working class man on Bernal Heights. Police confronted Alex as he was walking downhill on his way out of the park, and killed him with two sequential volley of shots. The first volley took him down to the ground. The second volley of over ten shots killed him.
A KEY FACT: NO THREAT REPORTED
Alex Nieto posed no threat to anyone on Bernal Hill on the clear sunset evening. A witness told reporters: “…he wasn’t threatening to me. He seemed like a guy just eating a burrito.” [Source: ABCLocal; SFBG]
In the 911 Call (narrated by Chief Suhr at the Town Hall Meeting) and in dispatch audio, Alex is simply described as eating sunflower seeds or chips with his taser “at his hip”, never drawn. He is never described as threatening anyone.
All the same, a battalion of officers was sent to the hill to confront him.
A Bernal Heights native, Alex routinely ate dinner in Bernal Park, before going to his security guard shift. He had been with his parents before going out.
WHAT WE BELIEVE HAPPENED: A POLICE COVER-UP
Officers racially profiled Alex as a gangbanger exclusively based on his description as a Latino male wearing a red jacket. Racial profiling is illegal and a violation of civil rights.
Officers gave Alex no chance to respond to warning before they shot him to the ground with two or three shots. With Alex injured on the ground, officers decide—without any evidence of danger—to continue shooting at him, until he stopped moving. 59 bullets were fired.
This looks to us like an unjustifiable police murder —a deliberate execution— of an innocent man.
We also believe SFPD and the City and County of San Francisco are involved in a cover-up of an unlawful killing. We believe they fabricated a false narrative of events and have hid or tampered with evidence.
The most up to date factual record is now on the page titled “TRIAL“. Below is the information we had before the Trial. As a matter of historical record, we are keeping the information below as is, but highly recommend you check out the facts of the TRIAL to get a full sense of the cover up involved.”
OPPOSING VERSION OF EVENTS:
WHAT CHIEF OF POLICE GREG SUHR SAYS HAPPENED*
WHAT FEDERAL CIVIL LAWSUIT SAYS HAPPENED**
|* [Source: Chief Suhr, Town Hall Meeting 3/25/2014.] [Listen to KQED audio of Town Hall Meeting.]||** [Source: Civil Federal Lawsuit filed 8/22/2014. Read Case Status & original filings.]|
EYEWITNESSES PRIOR TO SHOOTING
Ear and eye witness’ revelations say:
THE AUTOPSY REPORT:
Nearly six months after Alex was killed, the Medical Examiner released an autopsy report that deems his death a homicide. The autopsy confirms fourteen to fifteen bullet wounds (one entrance wound is for two shots, therefore, at least 15 shots hit Alex.) Eleven out of the fifteen shots caused downward trajectory wounds. That is, eleven shots are fired from above Alex into his face, temple, chest, shoulders, and back. Seven of those shots are in a head to toe downward trajectory indicating that Alex was in a completely defenseless position when officers fatally wounded him. This could imply criminal intent and murder.
Please check our Diagram and Analysis of the Autopsy Report, for more information.
Audio from a home security camera reveals TWO initial shots fired (possibly a 3rd), followed by a 6 second pause. Then a continuous volley of at least 10 shots. (We now know that there was a total of 48 bullets fired at Alex.)
The pause between the first and second series of shots is relevant because officers made a deliberate decision to barrage Alex with the shots that actually killed him. This could imply criminal intent and murder.
Listen to SFPD’s dispatch audio obtained by KQED (see related story HERE):
Note: We have learned that the homeowner who is the source of this audio refused to identify themselves, and therefore this audio evidence was not introduced into trial.
A FEW OTHER KEY FACTS:
SFPD investigates the victim, not the homicide scene
- Through the night of his killing and into the day after, SFPD “investigates” Alex, rather than the officers involved in shooting. Among other things, homicide officers talk first to a man (Arturo Vega) against whom Alex had a restraining order. SFPD tells the public that Vega had obtained a restraining order against Alex, failing to mention that Vega obtained this order only after he broke the restraining order that Alex had against him. Vega’s harassment of Alex provoked a physical confrontation with Alex despite Alex having a restraining order against him.
Next day, SFPD harasses the Nieto Family
- 18 hours after Alex is killed, on Saturday, officers interrogate the Nieto Family, asking biased and inappropriate questions, and only on insistence of the parents do they tell Alex’s parents that SF police killed their son. Police attempt a warrantless search of their home, immediately after telling the parents SFPD officers killed their son. Alex’s dad was feeling so ill, he tells them to leave.
- On Sunday early morning, SFPD officers stole Alex’s car from the street, with keys retrieved from his body, without notifying the family, nor requesting a warrant. They ripped apart the inside of the car and took Alex’s iPad and security jacket. They have yet to say what else they took from the car. They’ve denied responsibility and refused to pay for the damages.
SFPD manipulate story of Alex’s killing in the media, abusing their power
- Police feed story of killing to media, with irrelevant information and misinformation about Alex’s character, before informing “next of kin.” Alex’s parents receive first rumors about something amiss from family and friends, some as faraway as Mexico, who read news articles printed with Alex’s name.
- Manipulation of media at every stage of obtaining evidence has continued. For example…
- Autopsy report is released to media on 9/11, while the Nieto Family receives only a simple one page summary of autopsy report. Medical Examiner calls them that same day to say they can obtain a complete copy by paying $38, giving supporters no opportunity to comment to media. Autopsy report repeats contested police version of events and irrelevant information about Alex’s character.
- SFPD releases the names of the officers who shot Alex to the media (not to the Nieto Family) on a Friday afternoon on January 2nd, again impeding supporters from providing appropriate commentary. SFPD was being forced to reveal the names the next Monday Jan. 5th by a court order. SFPD had withheld the names for more than nine months on an lame excuse that was not upheld by a federal judge.
- Attempt to “murder” Alex’s character by feeding false and irrelevant information and inferences to the media to taint public (your) opinion of Alex. This information is irrelevant because it explains nothing about why police shot Alex. These are police tactics to influence potential jurors with their narrative of events. For example, raising questions about an incident of mental illness in Alex’s past, and the restraining order filed by Arturo Vega without explaining that Alex and his girlfriend had a restraining order against this man. On the restraining order, see note above on media manipulation by police.
SFPD & Police Commission, and City Attorneys have actively withheld key evidence from the Family and public, including…
- NAMES of the officers involved:
– 4 shooters [Status: Released more than 9 months after he was killed, but only after a federal judge ordered SFPD and the City into transparency.]
– 8-10 other officers present during shooting, 20 other officers who secured homicide scene, officers who harassed Nieto Family in the aftermath. [Status: Info still missing still]
- AUTOPSY report [Status: Released 9/11/2014, nearly 6 months after his homicide]. Report shows 15 independent bullet wounds, 11 in downward trajectory, raising issue of criminal intent, and need for more information regarding…
- NUMBER and CALIBER of bullets fired [Status: Released 2/13/2014, nearly 11 months after Alex’s homicide in D.A. Report.] D.A. Report mentions that there were 59 casings found around the homicide site corresponding to officer guns. However, the civil case mentions that 48 shots were fired.
- POSITIONS and SEQUENCE from where each officer shot
- ORIGINAL 911 call(s), not even a transcript has been provided [Note: what is available is the dispatch radio.]
- WITNESS statements
- POLICE reports
- Any possible video from sergeant’s body cam
Please click on CASE STATUS to learn more about stage in the legal processes involved in the Alex Nieto Case. There is also a useful TIMELINE. In an SFPD officer involved shooting, typically there will be:
- Family filing of civil lawsuit (which is typically the only way which a family can obtain independent evidence into the shooting of their loved one by police)
- District Attorney investigation and decision whether to file charges
- SFPD homicide investigation of their own involved officers
- Office of Citizen Complaints investigation and decision on any administrative sanctions (investigation is based on SFPD investigation)
- Police Commission investigation and decision based on OCC investigation regarding any severe administrative sanctions
SFPD SUSTAINS A PATTERN OF IMPUNITY
From 2000-2014, 97 SFPD officer-involved-shootings (OIS) have occurred. Of those 97 shootings, 33 people have died and 35 people have been injured. In each and every one of the OIS wherein a person died, SFPD has found the use of deadly force within policy even under the most questionable of circumstances. This is evidence of an official policy, entrenched culture and posture of deliberate indifference toward protecting citizen’s rights, and the resulting deaths and injuries is a result of SFPD’s ratifying unconstitutional conduct of officers.
Since Alex was killed, SFPD officers have shot dead:
- Mario Woods on December 2nd, 2015
- Herbert Benitez on October 15th, 2015
- Amilcar Perez Lopez on February 26th, 2015
- O’Shaine Evans, on October 7th, 2014
These officers remain unaccountable. To the City and County of San Francisco, we say “No Consequence, No Confidence.”
Statistics from Anti-Eviction Mapping Project: From 1985-2015, 69% of people killed by SFPD whose race is known were people of color.