Coalition Demanding Reforms on Anniversary of Alex Nieto’s Death

The two-year anniversary of the death of Alejandro “Alex” Nieto in a shooting by San Francisco police was marked with a rally in which organizers presented a series of demands to the city to increase officer accountability.

The Justice and Love for Alex Nieto Coalition held a rally schedule at 6 p.m. on Monday at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts at 2868 Mission St.

Nieto was killed in Bernal Heights Park on March 21, 2014, when four officers fired as many as 59 shots, striking Nieto at least 10 times, after a dog walker called 911 to report a man with a gun.

Nieto was carrying a Taser stun gun and the officers said he pointed it directly at them, causing them to believe it was a gun. However, a witness who was at the park has said Nieto had his hands in his pockets at the time of the shooting.

Nieto’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officers, but following a trial, an eight-person jury ruled on March 10 that the officers did not use unconstitutional excessive force.

The demands presented by the coalition at yesterday’s rally will include modifying the San Francisco Police Department’s General Order to make alternatives to lethal use of force mandatory, as well as increasing transparency of the Police Department by requiring public and online permanent record keeping of complaints and incidents of use of force by officers.

“California law currently shields officer behavior from public scrutiny. We are asking the Board of Supervisors to take action and establish legal requirements to maintain an accurate, clear and permanent record of complaints filed against officers in our city. We deserve to know who is patrolling our streets,” coalition member Juana Tello said in a statement.

The coalition is also demanding that the city establish a special prosecutor’s office that would operate as an autonomous investigative and prosecutorial body in cases involving police misconduct.

Additionally, the group wants the city to require peer review processes in the medical examiner’s office when handling officer-involved shooting cases.

The coalition also wants the city to establish a permanent memorial in Bernal Heights Park at the site where Nieto was fatally shot. Community members have maintained a makeshift memorial made up of pictures and flowers at the site for the past two years.

“If the city wants to begin mending broken trust, the very minimum they could do is establish a permanent memorial for Alex on the hill as a show of respect for the Nieto family and community supporters,” coalition member Oscar Salinas said in a statement.

Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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