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.
Nice Facebook post. Fair and balanced — just like Fox News.
Pro tip: don’t go to a busy place with a taser (or anything that may look like a guy) and act crazy. You. will. be. shot.
I think you meant …anything that may look like a “gub” and “abt” crazy.
I meant GUT. My bat.
Or, if you’re brown, don’t go to a mostly white area dressed for your security job, and think you an eat a burrito and live to tell the tale.
Witness: “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.
Unfortunately, the public will never know what really happened.
What’s clear from countless incidents is that Job #1 for police officers is protecting themselves – even if it means bending the truth in official reports or emptying the clip at the slightest perception of a threat.
The solution is simple: require all officers to wear recording devices while they are on duty. The audio-video data would then, upon due process, be available to the public.
We, the public, pay police officers very well to work FOR US, and we have the RIGHT to know exactly what they are doing.
The police work for us, and that includes protecting the majority of us from the minority who are evil, crazy or ill-intentioned.
Of course they will protect themselves when they perceive danger. What would you expect? And they are placed in danger far more than you and I.
But invariably the person shot by a cop is no choirboy. They are usually hardened criminals or the criminally insane.
A nun walking down the street typically doesn’t get shot by a cop. You have to do something fairly bad to come into their crosshairs.
Police have a difficult, stressful, sometimes dangerous job – no question about it.
And if they are acting professionally, they should have no problem with audio-visual recording devices.
An unambiguous record of police activity seems like a no-brainer to me: cheap, lightweight Go-Pro type cameras provide a way of instantly settling questions for the benefit of the public, the courts, and the officers themselves.
I suspect that most of the time, such audio-visual recorders would exonerate any cop accused of wrongdoing.
As such the police should support the use of them and my understanding is that they do welcome their use, subject to some basic safeguards and exceptions.
…but unfortunately America is going full-speed the wrong direction: public business is ever more secretive, while private citizens are ever more surveilled.
If you have to create an unrealistic paradigm (wherein everyone shot is a hardened criminal, everyone else is a nun) to make a point, you don’t have much of a point. The SFPD has been under federal investigation numerous times over the past few decades, and caught doing some pretty corrupt, dishonest stuff. SFPD are no choirboys either, and they may just shoot a nun, given an out.
Well said, Jon.
John on the other hand (with an H), appears to believe in the just-world fallacy that if the cops kill somebody, it means the victim must have been doing something bad enough to deserve it. It’s a point of view that a lot of Americans have, where cops are by default infallible heroes.
Every report I have seen has Nieto drawing a weapon and appearing to present an immediate danger to those present.
dcrf, why would I disbelieve every witness and instead speculate that the cops shot someone who was just quietly eating a burrito?
Where’s the motive for your alternative and unsubstantiated theory of how the kill went down?
The only witnesses are the ones who did the shooting.
Nice try at personal attack in place of logic. Par for the course and transparent to all but the brain dead.
So you agree that all witnesses agree on what happened? And that you cannot provide an alternative motive or account?
I offered only facts and no personal attack. Accusing someone else of being “bran dead” is a personal attack and you are guilty of that.
Hatred won’t get you far in life.
Quantity of comments does not replace quality of logic. Your questions do not follow logically from my statement.
I trust that almost everyone who reads these comments isn’t brain dead and sees through your logical fallacies and attempts to color people as “cop haters”, “losers” or whatever other insults you can conjure up when your arguments fail.
SFBoy, please tell us that you never get selected for a jury, because your ability to ignore all the facts and evidence and replace them with an unsupported and improbably theory appears to be unmatched.
Killing this young man is truly a despicable act.
The SFPD needs to be held accountable. Period.
What specific factor makes this appear to you to not be a good shoot?
Move along stupid troll!!
OK so you don’t have any reason. It’s just bias.
FYI, that makes you the troll.
Next time, we’ll call you to go diffuse the situation. Please share your cell number.
I agree. They should be held accountable EVERY time they shoot someone.
There are idiots who trust the police so much, they think they should be allowed to kill citizens with impunity.
The SFPD is under federal investigation, and has been in one way or another since I was a kid. If you think the department is honest, awesome, and heroic, please remember that the film “Training Day” was modeled after an SFPD officer. Keep in mind that SFPD have been charged with selling meth, extortion, and perjury.
More, the law states that an officer is responsible for and must justify EACH AND EVERY shot fired. Not just the first one. The officer must explain why they kept shooting.
Demanding an investigation is the appropriate way to go as a citizen. There are idiots who think that so long as the police say “it’s a good shot” we should believe them hands down. These are folks not targeted for abuse (or person, or rights) by the SFPD.
And we all know if Alejandro were a white dude named Alex, the police may not have been called (even if he had a gun looking tazer), and that a standoff would have ensued, him being surrounded, etc. not immediate gunfire.
I agree the police need better training in how to deal with mental illness, if that was the issue here. Shooting him 14 times seems over the top. I would never call the police unless I truly thought a life was in danger, because these kind of outcomes are so common.
Assuming that the police genuinely believed that they were in imminent mortal danger, then they will fire a number of rounds because, unlike in the movies, one shot doesn’t stop a guy, even assuming you hit the target.
The only way to be 100% sure that the bad guy is stopped immediately is to fire a volley of shots.
It’s reasonable to determine if this was a good shoot or not. It’s not reasonable to question the number of shots.
Your vitriol and lack of human compassion are disgusting.
I never said I didn’t think this was sad.
But I was focused only on the allegation that SFPD did not follow procedure here. All the evidence is that they did.
SFPD needs to hire brave and intelligent men, not little kids who are always scared and TRIGGER HAPPY!
Avalos is quick to jump to conclusions here. Can’t wait until he’s termed out.
Yeah, it’s not even his district. Not that Campos would be any fairer.
Of course there will be an investigation. There automatically is for any case of police discharging a weapon.
But even Nieto’s supporters don’t appear to have any evidence it wasn’t a good shoot, except that they thought Nieto was a “nice guy”.
Except when he wasn’t, of course.
I think your responses show how you view things, “good shoot” as if Nieto was some type of animal. Which probably shows what you think of people like him. In the end Nieto did not have a gun and people of color are tired of cops shooting us dead, mistaking things, toys, hands for guns and it seems to happen to people of color over and over and over and over……
The term “good shoot” is police terminology for a justified shooting. That’s all.
Race has nothing to do with this as white guys get shot too. Quit with the race card playing – it’s irrelevant and mischievous.
I hope that article wasn’t designed to be sympathetic to Nieto because it revealed a lot of information that is damning about him.
Specifically the restraining orders, the previous use of a taser, the finding of a weapon around and about his person, the complaints by those who called the cops, and so on.
Yeah, OK, he was a buddhist and whatever. But nobody is all good or all bad. It seems fairly clear that this guy went off the deep end for whatever reason. That might not have mattered except that he did that with a gun.
Sounds like the cops had no choice. We should support them.
The process of getting a restraining order is a complete pain and takes a lot of time….you really need to want protection from someone to go through it – paperwork, court dates etc. It’s not easy at all…..this guy had an old friend and ex wife seeking protection…….so something was ‘off’ with Ali Nieto and unfortunately his family, employer, fellow buddhist missed the signals….
I wish the police could have shot him to disable/stop him versus kill him…..
This should not be made into a brown/white issue like on SF Gate…..iit’s a mental health issue with many close to him not reading the signs…..
Something was clearly wrong with Nieto that his closest friends had a restraining order against him. Come downtown; see this type of behavior on a daily basis. One moment the person is acting fine, rational; the next moment they are screaming, hitting, causing violence. As for Avalos spewing his nothingness. District 11 is one of the most filthiest crime infested slums in SF. However, we should be glad District 9 Supervisor Campos did not get into this act, yet!
Really? They had no choice? Shouldn’t professionally trained police officers know the difference between a Taser and a gun? They were so in fear of their own lives that they shot him over 14 times?
I am always suspicious of people who support the police in every instance regardless of circumstances.
The police are supposed to be working to protect us. The citizenry is rightfully entitled to criticize police action. If we don’t voice our opposition when we believe the police have overreacted then we are acquiescing to their unchecked, unaccountable conduct.
Some guy threatens a bunch of people with what appears to be a firearm and the cops are called.
When they arrive, the guy goes to pull what looks like a handgun to them. Are you seriously suggesting that the cops can tell the difference from that distance in a life-threatening situation?
It is SOP in that situation to shoot to kill because that is the only way to be sure of stopping harm to others.
I’m still waiting for someone to present a shred of evidence that this wasn’t a good shoot. All I’m hearing is that he was kind to animals. So was Hitler.
Threatens? Where did you read that?
Why are you so willing to believe whatever SFPD public relations says?
Take a moment before you form your iron clad opinions.
Why do you think the cops were called?
I need a reason to disbelieve SFPD. So far you haven’t provided one.
Clearly troubled and probably experiencing a psychiatric emergency, Nieto only pointed his taser at a dog after it came upon him as he ate potato chips. That’s it. He threatened nobody with a firearm. In fact, he didn’t have one. When the police shot him, he was already isolated from the general public.
I encourage everyone to attend this evening’s meeting to hold the police department accountable for its actions. They will claim how dangerous their job is. When was the last time an SFPD officer was shot in the line of duty other than by his partner?
Blind obedience makes us all less safe. We are socialized to believe that the police serve to protect us. In reality, they are usually poorly trained to deal with mental health emergencies and often solve the problem by killing the disturbed person, armed or not.
This situation is a tough call. Even if Nieto only threatened a dog that attacked him, people may have felt threatened and reflexively called the police. I would hesitate to call police unless the person clearly is a danger to himself or others because the response by amped up, poorly trained, scared, and, in some cases, homicidal police officers often results in a preventable, not inevitable, killing. If I chose to call 911, I would describe it as a medical emergency so that the dispatcher sends paramedics in addition to police. The best course, if possible, is to involve friends and family of the person. In this case, they could have informed police that the weapon was a taser and, in the best outcome, helped calm down Nieto.
This is not an isolated case. A few years ago, the SFPD shot a wheelchair bound distressed person multiple times even though he was only carrying a knife. With more patience, better training and help from mental health professionals, the police could have avoided shooting that person, who fortunately survived.
Anyone who keeps up with the news is familiar with other cases where family members call police to help at their house with someone in distress, and the result is the unnecessary death of their loved one.
Or alternatively people should not wave deadly weapons around in public, threaten dogs, and do things that get you more than one restraining order.
But you are correct that his friends and family did nothing to neutralize the threat Nieto posed, nor mitigate the risk of what happened.
SFPD protocol was followed here and it appears to be a valid shoot.
do you do anything other than hang out on this site spewing your reactionary rhetoric?
Yeah, lots of things. I can multi-task.
No, I don’t have your kind of time. I have a wife, two kids, a dog, a mortgage and a full time job. Just couldn’t help noticing over time (when I do have the time to check this site) that you are constantly commenting and your responses are always the same recognizable, predictable, one note BS.
That’s interesting, Patrick, because I have a wife, two kids, a mortgage and run two businesses.
I don’t have a dog though, so maybe that explains it.
Anyone can get a restraining order against anyone else, and make up whatever wild accusations they wish. It proves nothing, and you don’t mention that he put a restraining order on these same individuals FIRST. Your penchant for dishonesty is noted.
Jon – you are wrong – it’s long and difficult to get a restraining order in place…try it sometime – multi-step paperwork, getting the person served, showing up in court etc.
The RO is barely mentioned and that he did it first is new info – you sure about that, Jon?