Roger Morse, one of four officers cleared last week when a federal jury found the SFPD quartet did not use excessive force when they shot and killed Alex Nieto in 2014, allegedly reacted to the legal victory with a gloating Facebook post over the weekend.
A now private Instagram user claims to have taken a screenshot of Morse's purported reaction to an ABC 7 story stating the outcome of the trial, and that image has been shared on Twitter and by news sources from BuzzFeed to 48 Hills.
“We are looking into the circumstances of the posting,” SFPD spokesperson Michael Andraychak told BuzzFeed. As the news outlet explains, what is possibly Morse's reference to a house fire might be to 2011, when Nieto was taken into police custody after attempting to set items on fire in his parents' home. He was subsequently placed on a 72-hour mental health hold.
As a memo from the time of the incident recalls, “Mr. Nieto’s parents told the officers their son hears voices, suffers from depression, was supposed to be on the medication Abilify but had not taken it. Mr. Nieto set a book on fire in the kitchen and ran with the burning book into the living room where he threw it on the ground and threw himself on top of it.”
The reference to using a Taser on Nieto's friends could refer to an incident that allegedly occurred three weeks before his death in 2014, wherein Nieto may have used a Taser on a friend's estranged husband.
Nieto was shot on March 21 in Bernal Heights Park, where police say they mistook his Taser, an item he carried for his job as a security guard which he may or may not have drawn, for a gun. As the Examiner adds, while also noting Nieto's childhood history of bullying the story's writer, the reference to "smiling" could be to the image of Nieto chosen for the ABC 7 story, in which is Nieto who is, tragically in hindsight, smiling.