Armed Man Killed by SFPD in Bernal Heights Park

Bernal shooting

A man wearing a gun in a holster was shot and killed by San Francisco police in Bernal Heights Park on Friday night. The Chronicle has the story:

Officers responding to calls about a man with a gun approached him on a paved pedestrian path on the north slope of the park about 7:10 p.m., said police Deputy Chief Lyn Tomioka.

The man appeared to draw his gun as the officers approached, Tomioka said. The officers, fearing for their lives, opened fire.

The man was declared dead at the scene.

Tomioka said she did not know if the man had exchanged fire with the officers, but she said his gun was discovered close to his body. She also could not say how many officers discharged their weapons, but that it was more than one.

Neighbor Isaac’s wife was jogging up the hill shortly before it happened. He reported via Twitter:

Your Eastern Bureau didn’t hear the shots over on Peralta, but we wanted to post a link to the coverage and provide a place for neighbors to discuss the unfortunate events.

UPDATE: Local CBS, NBC and ABC affiliates have their reports up now.

UPDATE: Neighbor Regina sends this picture of police tape at her house:


PHOTO: Andria Borba, KPIX 5

28 thoughts on “Armed Man Killed by SFPD in Bernal Heights Park

  1. THANKS for reporting. No shots heard on Bradford St. Just racing screaming cop cars! Its going to be on the News top of the hour at 11:00pm tonight. Scarey……

  2. Pingback: Police Shoot and Kill An Allegedly Armed Man in Bernal Heights | Mission Loc@l

  3. Why is SFPD so trigger happy? Is holstered carry illegal in califronia? Does it deserve execution on the spot? according to the SFGate article there were 12-16 shots fired by the police; in a dense residential area, is this really the appropriate response?

    I don’t want unstable people with guns running around any more than the next guy, but this seems like it could have been handled differently. Ditto the recent incident where the cop shot his partner in response to a suspect backing a car at him.

    • I have no idea whether the SFPD is trigger happy in general, but there really aren’t a lot of alternative ways to deal with “unstable people with guns running around.”

    • KM. It’s hard to know what actually happened up there but I think it is sad that someone died viloently in one of my favorite places.

      It’s important to know that the Police Commision in San Francisco prevents the police here from using tasers. While it may not have been a viable option in this case, tasers are statistically proven to be less lethal than guns, despite claims otherwise.

      That might be why officers are ‘trigger happy’. They don’t have many options when they think a person is trying to kill them.

      We should change that.

      • I’m not ready to judge a police officer for shooting an unstable-looking man pulling a gun out of a holster. But I’ve also always wondered why they couldn’t carry plastic bullets instead, just to reduce the lethality.

      • Tasters never get used in situations like this. They are only used to torture ‘suspects’ on the street, punish people for not obeying quickly enough, things like that. That is the reason we don’t want them here in sf.

    • The SFPD historically has one of the lowest rates of officer involved shootings when compared to cities of similar sizes, according to a study in 2010. I have not seen any data from the 2011 – 2014 time period. But calling them “trigger happy” is not backed up by the data.

      According to news reports, “shortly after 7 p.m. someone called 911 and reported a man on the trail armed with a gun. Police say he was not threatening anybody, but he had his gun out when they encountered him. Witnesses, who were downhill, watching the action, say they heard police shout, “Put the gun down. Put the gun down,” followed by several shots.”
      Certainly agree that we don’t want unstable people running around with guns but it is also not helpful to brand the police as trigger happy when facing an armed person who apparently had a drawn weapon.

  4. A mad man without a gun would not have created a death penalty situation. We need to get guns off our streets so that someone can punch his air demons and maybe get some help rather than getting killed.

  5. hey, we live in the hottest neighborhood in the country. even tweakers with guns know this…duh

  6. I don’t understand how anyone can judge this man/kid/person as “unstable.” Hundreds of folks out in Marin openly carry their weapons at their local Starbucks as they stand in line waiting on a java. At least until recently, they did.

    I don’t like what this person was wearing around his waist up there on the hill; I sure as hell don’t agree with this foolish need to “show off” a weapon in a holster; clones of Jessie James and John Wayne as far as I am concerned, need stay on the big screens where those who are nearby watching are safe from being killed by a stray. Digital surround sound is about as much as I can take of a bullet whizzing by my eardrum. Thank you very much.

    So far what I do know is the man/kid/person was eating a burrito filling his young lungs with the fresh breeze as dusk fell over San Francisco one final time unaware that it would be his last look at the city for shortly, little did he know, he would end up being judged, trialled and immediately executed.

    Personally, I am pissed off at the fact that not one, but two armed men dressed in black found this one kid/man/person so much a threat–so great a threat, that both had to completely unload all of their fire power into the anatomy of this one twenty-three year old individual.


    Twenty-three years is a only a number that reflects the hours, minutes, seconds, or in short–time passing of ones’ physiologies. Organically expiring so to say. With no outside help from anyone or anything. It does not, by any means account for the age of the mind, conscience, or status of psychology. “Adultness” at eighteen is artificially imposed by politicians who make laws; laws that are not always necessarily well thought out: those of you who have teenagers understand this all too well. Those of you who are cringing probably own a dog or a cat. Thus, they fall short of qualifying as “human” adultescents, teenagers or– kids! I know, I know, I love my dog too, but as much as I love him (and perhaps even more than I would love my own kid), he still remains a beast. Sorry, I feel your pain, honest I do.

    When I was boy, growing up in this very same neighborhood, in this exact same house, on this same street, in the very same room I am typing right now; before Bernal was overpopulated, overdeveloped: when once upon a time wildlife such as coyotes and owls “were” commonly seen as a direct result of desolate, undisturbed habitats, the “Black and Whites” would take my naughty friends up in the alley behind my yard at the very dead end of Treat street and beat the living daylights out of them with their black harwoods.

    Many of the houses up into the alley had been abandoned and were empty. There were no luxury condos yet, no well lighted streets or occupied apartments near to see or hear the beatings done to us regularly. Witnessing such violent and unjust crimes by those “good guys with guns” when I was a nine year old boy instilled not fear, but terror of the police. Naturally, as I matured and became an adult, I quickly became appalled and distrustful from the fact that these armed men dressed in black, these “good guys with guns” whose vehicle doors would read “To Serve And Protect” could get away with stealthy routine unlawful beatings as a part of our neighborhoods standard operating procedures for enforcing the law.

    Henceforth forty years later. Should it come as any surprise that I find myself today with my blood running colder than ever knowing that those same armed men dressed in black whose salaries are paid by me to “Serve and Protect” have retired those long hardwood splintered black coated sticks and replaced them with semi-automatics .40 caliber Glock 22s with potential to unload not six, but according to my reliable gun experts, ten rapid fire hot pieces of deadly lead with “one” single squeeze? Translation? If both cops fully unloaded each of their weapons, it is a grand total of, at the very least, twenty hot deadly pieces of lead whizzing through the air, piercing mortal organs so fragile, so vulnerable, that one or two bullets can have the same deadly consequence.

    Twenty? Yeah, really? That is a whole lot of fire for a guy who was eating a burrito. That is, if SFPD have foregone the option of the weapon’s upgrade to a mag holding 22 shots!


    Thats outrageous!!!! And bologne, you are not going to sit there and lecture me on urban style twenty-first century policing? Because if you are, you cannot do it without calling it for what it is.

    And what it is, is all out military assault style “we” are the enemy battlefield combat.

    All this firepower, over a man/boy/person who was eating a burrito and felt, maybe for good reason, threatened by the “watchers.”

    So now, what I need to know, what “we” all are entitled to ask is–

    “Who is watching the watchers?”

    • I agree and I couldn’t have said it any better. I will have teenage boys soon, and this freaks me out.

    • To address your first question only, I think the label of “unstable” is being used based on witness accounts of his behavior leading up to and during the incident, as well as the report of a recent attack leading to a restraining order in the accompanying article.

  7. Well, I am a resident and I don’t know what world every one lives in around this area if they feel that all is daisy and roses. This area is very dangerous, I am just being honest about it. If the person was unstable then the question is why was he holding a weapon in the first place? Especially in an area where violence is at an ultimate high. The Bernal area and the Mission is a big hot spot, as well as our whole city. We need folks to calm down on being so defensive and start taking responsibility. We have kids who are growing up in this area and we should focus on how we can make things better for them when relocating is not an option.

    • Was he dangerous? Or just brown? Wondering who the paranoid busybody was that called the cops on a boy who carried a legal taser for his security job. They hopefully feel like shit right now. Or, like you, they are justifying their poor choice with “Well, it IS dangerous up here.” It is not dangerous. Except for maybe the fear of stepping in dog poo. You have 100s of dog walkers there at any given moment who would be witness to any attempted crime. As a long term Bernal dweller, I’m really exhausted by my new neighbors. There is a friggin’ Tesla who speeds on my street. And no one makes eye contact anymore. Newcomers, please check your suburban assumptions about scary city life.

  8. Todd, what are the details of the meeting the Ingleside Station is holding for Benral
    residents? I think i would like to go this.

  9. I know it is always shocking to hear how many shots are fired, but it’s not like the cops in these situations say “ok man, you use your judgement to fire and I will stand here pointing my gun along with the other 8 of us”
    There were a lot of guns pointed at the suspect – who was a suspect because someone called him in as such.
    I’ve seen cops with AR-57 in front of my house and had a stupid drunk stumble upon the cops looking for suspects and the dips**t actually put his hands up like told, after putting his beer can down, and then went for his breast pocket. He is sooo lucky to have listened when the other cop’s pistol came out and the shouted him back into place. He was not the suspect but, man, my kid and I almost witnesses a stupid man being slaughtered because of his stupidity. The cops were very shaken when they returned to their cars and left.

  10. Pingback: Man Killed During SFPD Confrontation on Bernal Hill Identified | Bernalwood

  11. I don’t fault the police – I fault the person who jumped to conclusion he had a gun which was in fact a taser and called police stating he had a gun. This individual caused the hysteria which led to the unfortunate death.

    So the guy was air boxing or practicing Ti Chi….. and instead of having a taser it could have been a leather holster housing his PDA. The hood is getting too NIMBY

    • Many of the people using Bernal Hill Park are not from the neighborhood. It is likely that the person who called in the incident first wasn’t even from the Bernal area.

  12. I think a big part of the issue here is that the SFPD (and most PDs) aren’t good at dealing with people who are having short-term mental issues. Lots of things can make a person snap for a period of time; usually their friends or family can help them recover from it. It happens with little kids all the time, adults are usually better at hiding it or just pretending they lost their temper a bit.

    Police should get better training on dealing with people having momentary mental issues, or who are doing something stupid because they’re intoxicated.

    As many people have said, this was a nice guy, very caring, etc. But even nice people freak out sometimes, that doesn’t make them evil or a criminal. But our public institutions aren’t good at dealing with these kinds of incidents. They only see an evil criminal who needs to be stopped.

    In the future, I hope police will use some Star Trek-style stun guns or net guns or something that incapacitates the person without doing any significant harm to them. When your only tool is a gun, people are going to get shot.

  13. From a man named Jason Wallach>>

    I am upset this evening because today I learned about Alejandro Nieto, who was killed by a barrage of San Francisco Police Department bullets last Friday evening near the service road leading up Bernal Hill.

    I attended the vigil in Alex’s (as he was known to friends) honor that took place at the site where he died, on the service road leading up Bernal Hill. At the vigil, I learned that he was a scholarship student at City College of San Francisco, studying Criminal Justice. He wanted to be a parole officer to help guide young men’s lives into good directions. He was a devout Buddhist who believed in creating the peace in his community that he wanted to see spread across the Earth. He was a loving, caring individual. I found out through a poem that his birthday was March 4th.

    I also learned that the SFPD shot him last Friday as he ate a burrito just before heading to work as a security guard. He was wearing his work-authorized tazer on his belt, but the police did not ask him about that. They did not consider the source of racist fear that motivated the (mostly) white dog-walking residents to frantically call police because of Alejandro’s presence. The cruel irony is that his job was to provide a sense of security for patrons at a restaurant/bar — so they could eat in peace. But Ale’s presence — his simple presence IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD THAT HE GREW UP IN — was enough to create a sense of IN-security for his recently arrived neighbors… and that not only could he not eat in peace, but because of it Alejandro is now Resting in Peace.

    There is so much work to be done on so many levels to prevent this type of thing from ever happening again. It won’t be changed in a day. But if we show up for Alex in the coming days, maybe we can show that he did not die in vain. (Cuz for right now, it sure feels like his life was senselessly stolen from him.)

  14. Pingback: Civil Trial in Death of Bernal Resident Alex Nieto Gets Underway in Federal Court | Bernalwood

Comments are closed.