It was like most Friday nights for Alejandro Nieto, according to friends and family. He was hanging out at Bernal Hill, a popular park known for its scenic vistas of the city, before going to work last Friday as a security guard at a nightclub.
Things changed rapidly after someone called the police at around 7:11 p.m. to report a man with a gun. When officers arrived, police said, Nieto pointed a weapon at them. Officers responded by firing at Neito – 14 times, according to friends. He died on the scene, police said.
Three days after the incident, around 100 family members and friends of Nieto, a 28-year-old city college student studying criminal justice, gathered at an emotional memorial to denounce the incident.
The San Francisco Police Department told news outlets that Nieto pointed a weapon at police officers who, fearing for their safety, shot and killed him. Police told the San Francisco Chronicle that they found a weapon near him, but declined to specify the kind of weapon. Family friends say that it was a Taser gun that Nieto used for his job. Court records also show that Neito was also involved in restraining orders in which he allegedly used the Taser gun improperly.
The police declined to comment for this article, saying that they will answer questions at a community meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Leonard Flynn Elementary School.
“They killed him like a dog,” said Roberto Hernandez, a long time Mission resident.
Carlos “Cookie” Gonzalez, a friend of Nieto and a probation officer at Juvenile Hall, said the narrative police offered troubles him.
“For a man who was studying criminal justice I think he would know not to point a gun at a police officer,” Gonzalez said. “Something doesn’t add up. We need to figure out what happened.”
To some friends and family, Nieto was known as a Buddhist, volunteer and an aspiring probation officer who was always willing to learn.
“I never knew he was so loved,” said his father through a spokesperson as the vigil came to and end.
But two restraining orders filed by former friends offer a different narrative.
Earlier this month, The San Francisco Superior Court partially granted his former friend, Arthur X. Vega, a restraining order against Nieto for allegedly shooting him with a Taser gun four times in front of his wife, documents show. Nieto also had a restraining order against Vega, according to documents.
The court also granted Vega’s wife, Yajaira Barrera Estrada, a partial restraining order before the hearing date on April 11.
But that’s not the man that Jeffrey Staulcup, a friend from the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist Center knew.
“He believes in peace,” he said.
If the vigil is any indication of what’s to come at the town hall meeting, friends, activists and some politicians will demand an outside investigation of the San Francisco Police Department.
“Blood has been spilled by the people we are supposed to trust,” Supervisor John Avalos said. “From time to time these things happen. We need to hold [police] accountable.”
Fresh in the mind of activist are two other incidents involving the San Francisco police including the March 8 officer-involved shooting on 26th and Florida and the February indictment of five current and one former police officers for federal charges including extortion and lying in court.
The family has retained a lawyer; though a family spokesperson declined to say what actions they will take.
Nieto is survived by his father, mother and his 22-year-old brother.
Ingleside Police Captain Tim Falvey will hold a community meeting today at 6 p.m. at Leonard Flynn Elementary School.