San Francisco police department Chief Greg Suhr had better be prepared for some tough questions tonight, when he is scheduled to face the public to answer questions about a controversial SFPD shooting that killed a beloved local man.
The Chronicle's Vivian Ho offers a nuanced portrait of Alejandro Nieto, who was shot and killed by police last Friday night in Bernal Heights Park. A 28-year-old City College student, Nieto was described as "a beautiful, peaceful, loving man," by a friend, but others describe a recent series of violent incidents that suggest Nieto had been suffering from mental illness.
Details of his death remain scarce, though police say that they will provide more Tuesday evening. Here's what we do know: at around 7 PM on Friday, March 21, SFPD says that they received reports of a man—Nieto—with a gun at Bernal Heights Park. Police claim that when they arrived, Nieto pointed his weapon at them. Multiple officers fired, and Nieto was killed.
However, questions remain regarding what kind of weapon Nieto carried. Though initial broadcast reports quoted police spokespeople as saying that a gun was found next to the victim's body, Nieto's friends say that he didn't have a gun, only a Taser, which he used in his job as a security guard at the El Toro nightclub on San Bruno Avenue.
Another friend, a San Francisco deputy probation officer, told the Ex that Nieto, who was a few credits shy of a criminal justice degree, had just completed an internship with the juvenile probation department, and that the situation “just doesn’t add up.”
However, earlier this month, Nieto reportedly attacked a former friend with a Taser in front of his wife and young child. "He fired at me five times," the victim told ABC7. "You know, so it's like, in my back as well, so it's like, if he's capable of doing that in front of my family, he's capable of doing anything."
Nieto's family and friends assert that this earlier incident had no bearing on the fatal events of Friday night. “Alejandro Nieto was murdered by the San Francisco Police Department,” a family spokesperson told the Ex.
We're sure Chief Suhr will be confronted with these allegations, and more, at tonight's town hall meeting. It's scheduled for 6 PM at Leonard Flynn Elementary School (3125 Cesar Chavez Street). According to SFPD spokesperson Officer Gordon Shyy, Suhr "will recap the incident from March 21st and answer questions from the media and the community members."