The Friday news release is long-known as "a transparent attempt to evade fallout by burying bad news ahead of the weekend," as Slate put it over a decade ago. Perhaps that's why, after a Judge's decree on Monday, December 29 that the San Francisco Police Department must release the names of the officers who shot and killed Bernal Heights man Alex Nieto, SFPD finally sent out those names late in the day on Friday, January 2.

28-year-old City College student Alejandro Nieto was shot and killed by SFPD officers in Bernal Heights Park on Friday, March 21. Police were called to the park after receiving reports of a man with a gun, approached Nieto, and shot him after a brief confrontation. During the confrontation, Nieto was armed with and possibly brandishing a Taser he used in his job as a security guard at the El Toro nightclub on San Bruno Avenue.

Some say Nieto was suffering from mental illness that had caused him to behave violently and erratically at the time of his death, and the San Francisco Medical Examiner said in their autopsy report that Nieto had "a history of aggressive and bizarre behavior, auditory hallucinations," and noncompliance to prescriptions for two atypical anti-psychotic drugs. They reported that there were traces of cannabinoids in Nieto's system at his time of death, but they did not detect any anti-psychotic medications.

Nieto suffered as many as 15 gunshot wounds from as few as ten bullets, the ME reported. According to SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, the SFPD officers "fired in defense of their own lives," a statement disputed by Nieto's friends and family, who argue that police are mischaracterizing the circumstances around his death. They also cry foul at the release of details around Nieto's mental health, describing such details as "smear tactics" on the Justice for Alex Nieto website.

Months following the shooting, SFPD still hadn't released the names of the officers who shot Nieto, arguing that threats from an unnamed person put the officers at risk. Finally, attorney Adante D. Pointer took SF to court over the disclosure.

According to court documents, the SF City Attorney argued that "credible threats" made over the phone by a known individual who currently resides outside the US was the reason to keep these officers' names under wraps. Last Monday, however, Judge Nathaneal Cousins ruled that those threats weren't actually that credible, and that SFPD was required to release the names.

Five days later, at 4:38 p.m. Friday, San Francisco Police Department spokesperson Officer Albie Esparza sent the following email:

The following members were involved in the Bernal Heights Officer Involved shooting in March 21, 2014.

Sgt. Jason Sawyer
Officer Roger Morse
Officer Richard Schiff
Officer Nathan Chew

The most remarkable name on the list is Sawyer who, as the Chron reports, was involved in another controversial fatal shooting:

Lt. Sawyer, now of Park Station, was a sergeant at the time of the shooting and a longtime veteran of the department. In 1998, he was involved in the fatal shooting of ad executive John Smart after Smart allegedly used his Mercedes-Benz to pin Officer Ian Furminger to a parking meter.

Both officers were awarded the gold medal of valor for their involvement in the 1998 shooting, though an internal investigation and Office of Citizens Complaints probe had not been completed. Furminger was convicted last month of taking and dividing up thousands of dollars found during searches of drug dealers and their homes, and depriving suspects of their rights.

Though three investigations into Nieto's death 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 — all four of the officers have returned to active duty.

According to Adriana Camarena, a member of the Justice for Alex Nieto Committee who spoke with the Chron, Elvira and Refugio Nieto (Nieto’s mother and father) were "extremely happy" that the offiver's names had been released.

“In the words of Elvira," she said, "'One more step forward has been taken towards knowing what happened on the Hill that day.’”

Previously: Judge Rules That Names Of Officers Who Shot Alex Nieto Must Be Revealed
Two SF Cops Convicted In Corruption Trial Involving Stolen Drugs And Cash

All coverage of Alex Nieto on SFist.