SFPD to answer questions on fatal shooting of Alejandro Nieto

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Ben Bac Sierra, center, grieved with community members at a vigil for Alejandro Nieto, who was killed by police.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY REBECCA BOWE


San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr will be on hand this evening [Tue/25] for a town hall meeting to discuss last week’s officer-involved shooting in Bernal Heights Park. The shooting victim, 28-year-old Alejandro Nieto, was a City College of San Francisco student, a Latino, and Bernal Heights resident who had hoped to become a youth probation officer.

Just before sunset last night [Mon/24], a group of about 150 friends, family members, and community supporters gathered for a vigil at the spot where he was gunned down by multiple police officers.

The community members lit candles, sang, burned incense, and conducted Buddhist chants in honor of his spiritual practice. Those who knew Nieto, whom they called Alex, described him as caring, ambitious, and committed to nonviolence.

“He was such a bright person,” said Ben Bac Sierra, an author and instructor at City College who knew Nieto through shared ties in the neighborhood. Nieto had been helping Bacsierra organize community events and book readings, he said. They’d rolled down Mission Street together in a classic low-rider for a parade, shouting “si se puede!” while onlookers cheered them on.

Torrance Bynum, former dean at City College’s Evans and Southeast Center campus and a former instructor of Administration of Justice, described himself to the Bay Guardian as Nieto’s mentor. “I would give him rides home from class,” he said. Nieto would stop by to visit him, and “if I was in a meeting, he would wait for me.” Bynum said he’d phoned Nieto on his birthday just a few weeks ago, March 4.

On Monday night, major questions still lingered about the events leading up to Nieto’s death.

A statement issued by the SFPD on March 21, about three hours after the shooting, said officers had arrived at the park in response to “911 calls of a male subject with a gun.” Police “encountered a male subject with a weapon,” the statement went on. “The male subject pointed a weapon at the officers, and multiple officers discharged their firearms.” (In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Deputy Police Chief Lyn Tomioka indicated that he “appeared to draw a weapon.”) He was pronounced dead, the statement noted, “and an additional weapon was found.”

In the days following the shooting, however, friends and family members told reporters that Nieto had a stun gun, not a firearm, because he worked as a security guard at a nightclub. They also said Nieto was peacefully eating a burrito just before the shooting occurred.

According to California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services records, Nieto obtained registration to work as a guard/patrolperson in June of 2007, and obtained a permit to carry a baton in September of 2013. Security guards must complete a 40-hour course of required training before registering with the state.

A report in the San Francisco Chronicle suggested that just before the shooting, Nieto was “acting erratically and threatening passersby,” quoting an unnamed witness who said a man had threatened his dog with a “pistol-type stun gun” and yelled profanities. It also referenced a past incident involving Nieto's alleged use of a stun gun.

A person who declined to be named told the Bay Guardian that about half an hour before the shooting occurred, two men who were walking down the pedestrian pathway on the north slope of Bernal Heights Park alerted a jogger that there was a man ahead wearing a gun on his hip.

They told the jogger that they had called the police. The jogger, who was about 50 feet from the man and started moving away from him after receiving the warning, was too far away to see whether he had a weapon but noticed that he was “pacing back and forth” and “air boxing.”

When the Bay Guardian phoned the SFPD to ask what sort of weapon had been discovered, Sgt. Danielle Newman said she could not release that information.

“He was never arrested in his life,” Bac Sierra said of Nieto during the vigil. “He wanted to be a good person – and he was.”

Bac Sierra later told the Bay Guardian he'd first heard the news Saturday night, and spoke with members of Nieto’s family the following day. The family was not notified of what happened until 3pm the day after the shooting, he said. The report was that Nieto had been shot 14 times.

Sup. John Avalos, who represents the Excelsior District, said he had worked with Nieto in the past and knew him from Coleman Advocates for Children & Youth. “I was making sure that his life was going in a positive direction, and what we saw in Alejandro was that he had a really big heart,” Avalos said at last night’s vigil. “He gave it to a lot of people, and often probably didn’t give it enough to himself.”

He added, “Blood’s been shed, in this case, by people we’re supposed to trust. But … we have a lot of difficulty trusting our police, because from time to time these things happen."

Avalos also mentioned that when it comes to dealing with subjects who are mentally ill, SFPD has an established protocol. Under a program that began in 2011, specially trained officers with the department’s Crisis Intervention Team are to be dispatched to the scene when calls involve a mentally ill individual.

At tonight's meeting, Suhr is expected to answer questions from community members. Friends and supporters of Nieto are still in shock from the news.

“I don’t know what it’s going to take, but I think all of us here should call on the Office of Citizen Complaints, and make sure they do an investigation,” Avalos said. “We need to make sure that the officer who – I really hope, despite all the shots that were fired, are having trouble with their consciences right now. Because taking anybody’s life, or hurting anyone in such a way, is unconscionable. This young man, he deserves that from all of us, to make sure the senseless taking of his life was not done in vain, that it leads to something better.”

Avalos said he was also there on behalf of Mission District Sup. David Campos, who was unable to attend because he was in a hearing.

The SFPD town hall is scheduled for 6pm at Leonard Flynn Elementary School, located at 3125 Cesar Chavez Street.

Bac Sierra urged everyone gathered at the vigil to attend the town hall meeting. “Those cops have to feel this,” he said. “This neighborhood has to feel this.”

Comments

Not to wound. Pop pop - the burrito drops.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

restraining orders against them were unbalanced zero's.

All the people I know who ever got restraining orders against someone else did it because the other person was unreasonable and threatening violence.

I used to manage a business. Over the years I was there I had to deal with two ex-boyfriends who had restraining orders on them from their GF's. They would be reasonable for about two minutes, until they figured out I was not going to take their side as a fellow man, then they would go ape shit. Those were just the ones with restraining orders.

To get a restraining order the other side has to go through some legal hoops that take some time, so getting one often times means some serious business.

Dude probably had some hard wiring issues.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 8:26 pm

these are the same folks who put trayvon martin on trial for his own murder

Posted by wiseoldsnail on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 1:23 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

So... you're gonna bring up the kid who brought it on himself? For fucks sake guy, look at the evidence. Trayvon had it coming. You're on top of me beating me senseless and I can shoot? You best believe I'm gonna shoot.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

Put yourself in the cop's place: you get a call about a man behaving erratically. When you get there, the man draws a pistol shaped weapon and points it at you.

Do you:

A. See your entire life flash before your eyes, instantly wonder if you'll ever see your loved ones again, and then pause to take a good long look at the weapon to make sure it is in fact a real gun, and then decide whether or not to draw your gun.

B. See your entire life flash before your eyes, instantly wonder if you'll ever see your loved ones again, draw your gun and fire.

Cops aren't super human. Cops can't be trained to not have a strong adrenaline response under threat. Humans can't have that response trained out of them.

Cops are instead trained to take specific actions appropriate to situations. Muscle memory is part of the result of that training. Because of that, if you point a pistol shaped object at a cop, they will shoot you.

The time they have to make that decision is short. It takes two seconds from the moment of perceiving a threat to the moment where a trained cop has their gun drawn, aimed and fired. That is often too late. In most cases where a cop is shot, the person who shot them has the initiative and fires first. These things are facts.

Consider that every cop knows these facts and is trained in considerations of these facts before you judge a these cops. This was suicide by cop.

Posted by Dave on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

I moved to SF and read the letters to the Chronicle or Examiner where idiots suggested that cops shoot he guns out of criminals hands.

Nothing has improved much since then, magic thinking is still common here.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

Fourteen times? Really?

If Nieto were white and engaged in the same conduct, he'd still be alive today.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 8:16 pm

Actually, he won't.. and you're upset because. in fact, you're the racist one.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

Of course, naming persistent racism within the SFPD is in itself racist.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 5:02 am

If a white guy pulls a gun on a cop do you think the outcome is any different? You're a racist if you do.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 7:55 am

Really stupid math you're doing. Someone is "racist" if they have reason to believe that police treat people differently according to race.

Because, in your fake world, police treat everyone the same, regardless of race!

There are reasons why no one wants you in our city. Your response just illustrates that.

Hey genius, google "armed standoff with police" and read countless articles about white guys who pulled weapons on police and weren't shot dead within seconds. They were given a chance Alejandro never had.

BTW, here is what a witness had to say: "I didn't like the fact the guy had a gun, but he wasn't threatening to me. He seemed like a guy just eating a burrito," Bernal Heights resident Robin Bullard said.

The SFPD is currently under investigation for drug distribution, theft, illegal searches, lying in court, but you take the bait hook, line, and sinker. There are idiots, then there are transplants that think the police are angels.

Posted by Jon on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:10 am

Racism is really the act of interpreting everything in terms of race. It's an onsession based on seeing what you want to see.

The idea that a cop would not shoot to kill a white guy who points a gun at them is ridiculous. The cops see the gun, not the skin color.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:21 am

If a white guy is legally carrying a weapon, it's self defense.
If a black guy (wearing the same clothing and acting normal) is legally carrying a weapon, well...let's just say the cops are going to give him a hard time.

Posted by Lucky on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 10:14 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

no, racism is the systemic abuse of certain racial groups ... the exertion of power over those groups

in other words, there is a difference between prejudice and racism . there are facts, which include data that show how many people of color are caged for committing the exact same 'offenses' for which white people aren't even questioned, let alone arrested, tried, convicted, and caged . just because you don't seem to know these facts doesn't make them nonexistent

racism can only be exercised by a social group in power . in this country, white people usurped power from the native tribes, and the mexicans ... all who were stewards of these lands long before white people arrived . the power whites exert against the natives, and against the black descendants of slaves and immigrants from other lands, is evident every day . that is the definition of racism ...

the reality that some black and brown people dislike or even hate white people does not qualify as racism, as there is no element of power being exerted by those groups over white people ... get it now?

Posted by wiseoldsnail on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

ages ago. It was only ever used by blacks anyway.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

this is true

Posted by wiseoldsnail on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

I only met Alex NIeto a couple of times in Bayview, I remember being intrigued by his smile, the vibrant intelligence in his eyes, and how he seemed to observe and not miss a beat,
So SFPD just killed a young man who was looking forward a career in law enforcement...
Was the CIT team called to come to the scene ?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/721427181211650/
Justice 4 Alex NIeto

Posted by Guest Idriss Stelley Foundation on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

...and he's wielding an unknown weapon, and you close of the area to all pedestrian traffic, and surround him from distance, and make yourself known, and give him a chance to lay down his weapon, and you know that as a peace officer in the employ of San Francisco you could lose your life in the defence of innocents but that your extensive and expensive training has put YOU in the line of fire. You still telling me you can't spot a stun gun at distance or a kid in the wrong situation, you lying assholes? Or was this an excuse for target practice? With community policing, someone would recognize his face REGARDLESS of restraining orders and take appropriate action. This is NOT LA, expunge this scourge of wannabe fascist bootboys now!

On a side note, does anyone see any friendly police anymore in this City? Even the fat old ones are creepy, giving out there tickets until lunchtime before going to hide. I served on a murder trial in this town, shocking what I learned about the SFPD.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 8:40 pm

Yeah. Target practice.

Because shooting someone doesn't have any negative repercussions for the police officer's career and life.

After shooting someone the officers just go home, have a nice dinner and report for work the next day as if nothing has happened.

Because our police officers have no respect for human life and none of them ever interact with people of color.

Moron.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 9:13 pm

Up until the last ten words or so, you were actually describing the way things are in reality.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 10:15 pm

You're off your meds again, Greg.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 7:33 am

Greg is a well-known cop-hater and can be ignored.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 7:58 am

So having a stun gun working as a security gaurd you deserve to get murdered. I see oh it's okay because he had a restraining order that nobody knew about.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 9:53 pm

Reminds me of Zimmerman who wanted to be cop and parading with his gun.We had one who wanted to become youth probation officer parading with a taser gun, , unable to obey SFPD officer orders, unable to recognizable SFPD, especially with their cars and bright colorful lights, and smart enough to grab his gun and taunt the cops.

Based on other witnesses that some want to silent, what a great youth probation officer he could have become...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 10:36 pm

Just walk into any courtroom and all you’ll see is nothing but “messycans” and “brothers”. I am one of those, who at the age of nineteen were chased by a local merchant who bought police protection at the time, in the mission district. I was branded for life because there was a so-called war between the Hispanics with names like “Paco” instead of “Frankie”. Now I am old and look like a grandpa, and when I go out of the “assigned” areas people avoid my eyes, and carry on with their “intellectual” conversations. The young and bold who feel they understand “us”, speak words like “hola amigo”, with total disrespect because we are second class citizens in their eyes, who by virtue are either, former gang members, ex-felons, alcoholics, construction workers, gardeners, or disc washers trying to live the “American Dream” to buy our won form of happiness consisting in one burrito for dinner.
A dog would receive better consideration, or a cat stranded on a tree, before a Hispanic Male named “Alejandro” who is not willing to bow and act “normal” or “civilized” enough to walk his own Chihuahua.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

Just walk into any courtroom and all you’ll see is nothing but “messycans” and “brothers”. I am one of those, who at the age of nineteen were chased by a local merchant who bought police protection at the time, in the mission district. I was branded for life because there was a so-called war between the Hispanics with names like “Paco” instead of “Frankie”. Now I am old and look like a grandpa, and when I go out of the “assigned” areas people avoid my eyes, and carry on with their “intellectual” conversations. The young and bold who feel they understand “us”, speak words like “hola amigo”, with total disrespect because we are second class citizens in their eyes, who by virtue are either, former gang members, ex-felons, alcoholics, construction workers, gardeners, or disc washers trying to live the “American Dream” to buy our won form of happiness consisting in one burrito for dinner.
A dog would receive better consideration, or a cat stranded on a tree, before a Hispanic Male named “Alejandro” who is not willing to bow and act “normal” or “civilized” enough to walk his own Chihuahua.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

There were other witnesses that came fourth and said he was not doing anything wrong or looking erractic. He was eating his burrito. On the news another witness clamied the same thing. That he looked calm and just eating. One person that called 911 said he was eating potato chips and had one hand on the holster. That makes no sense to me.

He was studying criminal justice at SF City College and was interning at the juvenile justice system and had friends in the police dept.

A couple of months back he was assualted and reported the incident to the police.
He placed a restraining order on the person. This other person then placed one on him.

After listening to both sides for over 4 hours. I feel things don't add up and something is being covered up. I think they made some serious mistakes and were pumped up by the over exagerated racial profilying of the caller. Latino, Male wearing a red shirt (gang affiliation) with a had gun acting erratic.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 25, 2014 @ 11:44 pm

Alex was behaving in a menacing manner so the cops were called and, when they arrived, he pulled a gun on them so they followed standard procedure and shot him.

End of.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 7:56 am

I don't know which Station those cops were out of, but I had my problems with Mission Station in the past. Police Brutality from officer Jeffrey Williams made me go to internal affairs, who launch an investigation to conclude he was selling meth out of his home in San Bruno. He did hard time. Try dealing with 850 Bryant and you realize how things roll. Poor Valerie Mcdonald..... I went to homicide there and told them I had found John Gordon Abbott, and they don't care. Shame on you SFPD "cold case" cops....

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 6:14 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 6:20 am

"I didn't like the fact the guy had a gun, but he wasn't threatening to me. He seemed like a guy just eating a burrito," Bernal Heights resident Robin Bullard said.

This is what the idiots who believe every word against Alejandro seem to ignore--the other side of the story.

Do you actually think the police are going to admit to wrongdoing, a wrongful death? You kid only yourself.

The fact that he was a minority in an increasingly whitewashed SF, for the well-to-do transplants, is ignored. They'd like to believe the "left" (think about where you are, this is SF!) hates them for having a lil money. Get over yourselves.

Believe it or not, situations like this make some folks feel like their lives are worth less, that they have less protection under the law. They they'll be shot and killed first, and questions asked later.

That's the bottom line, not political partisanship or your weak ass funds.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 8:05 am
Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 8:14 am

As a black male from San Francisco , I have noticed how white people are just having their way with the real citizens of San Francisco. These new so-called law abiding citizens here have their own personal protection SFPD. What saddens me the most is that hey call the police, file false reports and then go to their community groups and fabricate what stories they will tell about the original members of the city, thus casting is in a negative light which allows police to further do as they please to us.

So now days it's illegal to be in a white neighborhood, because of the perpetual fear that they created in their own minds. After their fears have been validated by those who are just like them, a narrative about minorities and crime then manifest. Finally, the police protect their narratives and choose to enforce a brutal and unfair form of law enforcement, where at the end someone always ends up like the real victim in this case. Yet this new citizens find some sick way to justify their fear and most likely have no conscious about the circle of hate and discrimination that they are constantly reinfocing. My analysis is that these new people and police officers-most who have no friends of color- are one big gang.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 8:17 am

As a "Black male" explain all the black perpetuated violence in Oakland and other Bay area environs …. No, them white folks have no rational basis for their fears…...

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 8:29 am

You sound so ignorant.

The violence is perpetuated by institutionalized racism. This is not new information, you're just lazy. Do you think blacks are inherently different than whites? Maybe all the violence has something to do with this profiling, maybe it has to do with the poverty they are forced into - blacks get profiled at job interviews, by white strangers on the street, by the media funneling narratives that constantly make out black people to be the criminals.

Educate yourself.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:02 am

As a "black male" I'll gladly explain all the " black perpetuated violence in Oakland and other Bay area environs" when you explain all the white perpetuated violence in SF, Oakland, and other Bay Area environs. If you think white people aren't committing violent crimes, you're actually part of the problem described. Being snarky and thinking you're smart won't count for much

Posted by Jon on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:02 am

rate of violent white-on-black crime.

And yet blacks are just 12% of the population versus 60% that are whites.

Nobody is saying that blacks are congenitally more violent, even if Africa is the most violent continent. But there is something in the black psyche that drives them to violence much more quickly.

And it is for the black community to address that and not for the rest of us to pander to them.

That said, this "victim" was Hispanic. Funny how asian men never pull stunts like this. I thought the problem was being non-white?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:10 am

There are no Black people on the internet

Posted by Snoozers on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 10:09 am

Race is a myth.

And so is using the fiction of race to justify crime and anti-social behavior.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

90% of robbery suspects in Oakland (the robbery capital of the US) are black. Somewhere around 80% of the murder suspects are black. Please explain that. Oh wait I know. Racism.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

Why don't you move your card-playing victim mentality over to Oakland?

We're done with your whining and blaming your problems on others. Go read some Bill Cosby on what black men should be doing instead of the blame game.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 8:42 am

White people aren't real people, unless they are progressive white people!

Being progressive makes you an honorary POC!

Posted by racer さ on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 8:49 am

Hey, people feeling unsafe in any neighborhood is a real problem and even more so if they're in the minority. No doubt. Yet, making crazy assertions (somehow white people are not "real citizens" of San Francisco or the problem is all new people, or new people don't have rights to move somewhere or to feel safe, or you know who has friends of color and that determines people's state of mind) is intolerant b.s. and clouds your other fair points.

In any park, anywhere, if people see someone they think has a gun, that should be called in because people shouldn't feel unsafe and god forbid some nut starts harming kids, or anyone else. That's common sense. So reporting something is understandable but you obviously shouldn't wind up dead or even injured for a false alarm. They gotta come up with a way to investigate this in a fair and impartial enough way that it is credible. That clearly won't make this tragedy right but is the best that can happen at this point.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:02 am

He was unhinged, threatening people and dogs, had TRO's against him, and brandished a weapon in front of police.

Most likely explanation? Suicide - "death by cop".

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:12 am

The first thing that comes to me after reading these comments is ANGER! I have to correct those who are Racist and lacking of humanity, firstly why do you keep mentioning mental illness and restraining orders, this is irrelevant, when the police showed up they did not know his name or anything about who they were dealing with the fact that the police bring this up and mostly every single person who repeats this is trying to justify MURDERING him by defaming his life.

The police fired an unknown amount of 40 caliber rounds, yes because of course they don't know the total amount yet, to date, what is known is that he was hit 14 TIMES, is that justifiable to you, those that are heartless,

By most of the comments I know that you are not aware of the facts, which are, the police kept to their story with the media about a weapon, at one point there was mention of a "gun" this was their story until the town meeting on (MARCH) 25, when they finally admitted that what he had was a Taser gun, by the way he was shot and killed by the S.F.P.D. on (MARCH 21) 4 days earlier, they knew within 10 minutes after murdering him that this 'weapon/gun' was a T A S E R why didn't they shoot a round to the floor or maybe as they say "he drew the Taser" (but that's their story no other witnesses to date) with distinct yellow markings on it they could have shot him in the leg once or twice, no he had to be assassinated.

One last fact, Shot at approximately 7pm Friday but his arents were not told by the police until the next day at about 3pm, but not until the police asked his parents questions about his state of mind and if they could go into his room, IRKS ME, these are apparent cover-up tactics, lets get our story straight type deal typical routine procedure.

By the way he was my friend, (Rest In Peace Alejandro Nieto).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:28 am

relevant because they show the deranged state of his mind and are indicative that he posed a direct threat to others.

The cops fired several times because that is what they are trained to do in a situation like this. One shot doesn't stop most guys - it's not like the movies. You can shoot someone several times and they can still harm you. You have to immediately lower blood pressure or destroy the brain - that's the training.

Why didn't this guys family and so-called friends stop him? They love him now, maybe, but didn't give a crap about him before then when it would have made a difference

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 9:44 am

"Why didn't they shoot a round to the floor or shoot him in the leg once or twice". You've never actually handled a firearm have you?

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, but the TROs and the mental illness are very relevant here. From one of the reports I read, one of the 911 callers reported a man with a gun who was punching the air and shadow boxing. Also, are you sure the taser was the yellow kind? I've seen black ones without any yellow markings.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

and may not stop a murderous assailant.

You need several head and body shots to be sure.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

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