In testimony Friday in the wrongful death case against the city and the SFPD regarding the 2014 shooting death of Alejandro "Alex" Nieto, key prosecution witness Antonio Theodore was cross-examined by Deputy City Attorney Margaret Baumgartner in an effort to discredit him. Theodore, who first took the stand Thursday, maintains that the police account that described Nieto as threatening them, drawing what looked like a gun (actually his job-issued Taser), and telling cops to show him their hands is not correct. From Theodore's vantage point, he saw Nieto keep his hands in his pockets the entire time, but Baumgartner sought to poke holes in his account, as the Chronicle reports, by suggesting that not only was he too far away (115 feet), but that his memory may not be particularly reliable.
In particular, Baumgartner questioned differences in Theodore's telling of the story between Thursday and when she took a deposition from him a year ago, in March 2015.
As ABC 7 noted, Baumgartner asked, "Do you generally have problems with your memory?" to which Theodore replied, "Slightly, as I say, I drink a lot. That kind of helps sometimes. I do not remember sometimes."
Theodore, who is the singer for the local band Afrolicious and was jogging with his dog in the park that night, spoke to ABC 7's Dan Noyes in the video below.
As 48 Hills reports, a second witness from that day who was also walking a dog in the park, Robin Bullard, testified that he saw Nieto in what appeared to be a brand new 49ers jacket, calmly eating a burrito on a bench and not looking particularly threatening at all in opening statements, Baumgartner said other witnesses described seeing Nieto, who was prescribed anti-psychotic medication, acting erratically. Bullard saw the Taser gun at Nieto's hip, but said he was not threatened by it.
"He was just sitting there, staring at the city, it’s a scenic spot you can see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Twin Peaks, it’s not unusual. I did not feel threatened by the gun, I was just cautious about my dog, and I thought to myself perhaps this guy is a tourist. The vibe I got from him was that he wasn’t alarming."
Bullard also, fatefully, came across two white guys, possibly professional dog walkers, who asked if he'd seen the man with a gun and told Bullard that they'd already called the police. As Bullard testified, "I asked them, why? Is it illegal to carry a gun in California?"
Also testifying on Friday was one of the cops on the scene who arrived after the first round of shots were fired, Officer Roger Morse, who said that he did not see the red Taser light that the first two officers claim to have mistaken for a laser.
And the Medical Examiner, under cross-examination by Adante Pointer, the attorney representing Nieto’s family, testified about blood and bone fragments found in Nieto's jacket pocket, and a fracture in Nieto's left wrist, further suggesting he may have had a hand in his pocket.