On Friday, the San Francisco District Attorney's office announced that the four police officers—Nathan Chew, Richard Schiff, Roger Morse and Jason Sawyer—who killed 28-year-old Alex Nieto last March in Bernal Heights Park will not face charges. Although they fired 59 shots at Nieto, they did so "to protect themselves and other officers," says the DA office.
A description of events from KTVU:
The caller described a man with his hand resting on what looked like a gun. Officers arrived at the park within minutes and encountered Nieto with what they believed to be a gun in a holster, Suhr said.
He was standing about 90 feet away from them with his back against the setting sun.
According to Suhr, when police asked Nieto to show his hands, he said, "You need to show your hands."
Suhr said Nieto pointed his weapon – a Taser equipped with a laser sight — at several officers, prompting them to fire multiple rounds at him. Nieto was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Justice For Alex Nieto group claims that the situation was much different: that the caller was uncomfortable at the presence of a young Latino man in the neighborhood, that Nieto's Taser (which he was carrying for a bouncer shift at a nightclub) was clearly marked with a yellow stripe differentiating it from a gun, and that the audio on the 911 call describes him eating sunflower seeds on a bench rather than engaging in any behavior that would have warranted such an immediately violent cop reaction.
From the Huffington Post:
Family and friends have held that the actions police described are completely out of character for Nieto. They say he was a student at the City College of San Francisco earning a criminal justice degree and a leader for peace and social activism in his Mission District neighborhood. They believe the officers targeted him as a Latino "gangbanger" and are now covering up what actually transpired.
Nieto's parents are suing the city, and Oakland attorney John Burris told KQED that Nieto "really never had a chance to do anything. He was told to stop and as he made a minor, minor move, he was shot multiple times."
Around 10 of the officers' 59 shots hit their target.
Image via Facebook.