Alex Nieto's family files claim against SF

The family of a man killed in a neighborhood park last month by San Francisco police filed a claim against the city Monday.
April 14, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
The family of a man killed in a neighborhood park last month by San Francisco police filed a claim against the city Monday. Officers say they thought Alex Nieto had a gun, but it turned out to be a Taser.

There is an investigation by the police department, by the district attorney, and the Office of Citizen Complaints. However, attorney John Burris says those results may not come in a timely fashion. On Monday he filed a legal claim, which is a precursor to a potential wrongful death lawsuit.

Refugio Nieto's son Alejandro is gone. Burris says the 28-year-old nicknamed "Alex," was the immigrant family's guiding light.

On Monday Burris filed a claim against the city of San Francisco for the officer-involved shooting that took the young man's life.

"The family has a right to know. The community has been outraged out there. Everyone is very upset about this and the sooner they can get answers that they can trust, I think it'll be more of a healing process," said Burris.

Nieto, a Community College student and a security guard, was shot and killed at Bernal Heights Park around 7 p.m. on March 21st after someone called 911saying a man "has a gun on his hip, a black handgun and is pacing back and forth."

Police Chief Greg Suhr says officers asked Nieto to show them his hands, but instead he pointed what they later discovered was a Taser.

"It was equipped with a laser site, the kind that put a red dot on you, as a targeting mechanism and he put the red dot on the officers. They believed their lives were in danger and they fired upon Mr. Nieto," said Suhr.

At a town hall meeting the chief's explanations were met with disbelief. Burris says Monday's legal claim, the first step in a potential lawsuit, will force police to turn over all the evidence in the case.

He also believes the U.S. attorney should launch a federal investigation and supporters are demanding an investigation by the district attorney, which is underway.

"He was a beautiful young man, a spirit who could have done so much for our great city here," said Benjamin Bac Sierra, a family friend.

"We couldn't be sadder about it. I've apologized to the family, I did at the town hall for the loss of their son," said Suhr.

Suhr says the four officers involved are back on duty. The city has 45 days to respond to the family's claim.


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