San Francisco DA clears officers involved in fatal Bernal Heights shooting

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon cleared officers involved in the shooting of a man last March in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood.

The district attorney said it was a tragic but justified shooting.

Alex Nieto was shot and killed last March at Bernal Heights Park. Officers were investigating police reports of a man acting strangely while holding a gun.

Four officers were involved in the shooting. Nieto was holding a Taser. All of the officers said they thought it was a gun. They said they fired in defense of their lives after Nieto drew his weapon.

"They're going to use that gun against them," Gascon said. "Shooting is likely to occur. It is lawful. It's clearly constitutional."

Findings from the district attorney's investigation include the following: The officers were 25 to 30 yards away when they fired, and a total of 59 shots were fired by the four officers.

Nieto died from multiple wounds from as few as 10 gunshots. The report also mentions one witness who encountered Nieto and said he recognized the weapon to be a Taser. He called what he thought was a number to reach police.

"Actually, he did not try 911. He called 311, which is the non-emergency number," Gascon said. "He couldn't get through."

Other witnesses did call 911, reporting that Nieto had a real gun.

But Nieto's family and friends say the district attorney's report has inconsistencies. They say there's evidence suggesting Nieto may have fired his Taser at police.

"Then the officers would have clearly seen what he fired was wire out of a Taser," Bac Sierra, Nieto's friend, said. "It is absolutely incredible to believe that they would not have seen that."

Adriana Camarena says they have a key witness who disputes the district attorney's findings.

"They failed to interview an eyewitness that claims Alex Nieto never held a Taser in his hand, never made a move to raise his Taser," Adriana Camarena, Nieto's family friend, said.

Gascon said his investigators told the Nieto family lawyer they wanted to talk to witnesses, they may have but they never offered anyone.


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