Though the SFPD and the City Attorney have been stalling for time in the case of the officer-involved death of Alex Nieto this past March, a federal judge has just ruled that the city must now release the names of the police officers involved to the public. As Mission Local reports, Judge Nathaneal Cousins ruled Monday that despite threats made on these officers' lives on the internet and over the phone, particularly in the aftermath of the events in Ferguson and New York City, the city had an obligation to reveal the names and they couldn't feasibly be kept confidential much longer.
The attorney arguing to reveal the names is Adante Pointer, the man representing the Nieto family in a civil trial whose date is currently set in 2016. Currently there are three investigations into Nieto's death that are ongoing: a District Attorney's office investigation, one by the SFPD's internal affairs department, and a third by the Office of Citizen Complaints.
Arguing to keep the names confidential, the City Attorney's office pointed to credible threats made by a known individual who is currently outside the country, threats that were apparently made over the phone. They said this individual could "be here at a moment's notice." These threats seem especially urgent, they argued, in light of last weekend's shootings of two police officers in Brooklyn. As the Examiner reports, Pointer said in court that these threats were not credible.
Pointer successfully argued that his own case would be held up if he were not able to investigate specific individuals in preparation.
The protective order will be lifted as of January 5, by which time, the judge suggested, the city could make arrangements to inform and protect the officers.
28-year-old Alejandro "Alex" Nieto was shot by SFPD officers multiple times and killed on March 21, 2014, under circumstances that remain under investigation. Police allege that Nieto was making threats against them and drew what looked like a weapon on them in Bernal Heights Park. Nieto apparently only had a Taser gun on him, and it's been suggested that he may have been suffering from some kind of mental illness. The definitive details of the case have not yet been revealed.