The man killed on Bernal Hill during a confrontation with the SFPD on Friday has been identified as Alejandro Nieto, 28, of San Francisco.
Vivian Ho at the SF Chronicle reports:
Police officials said the officers were investigating reports of a man with a gun in Bernal Heights Park when they encountered Nieto on a paved pedestrian path on the north slope of the park.
Nieto appeared to draw a weapon, and at least two officers began firing at him, said police Deputy Chief Lyn Tomioka. Some witnesses and friends of Nieto believe he had a stun gun.
Tomioka said she didn’t know if Nieto had exchanged fire with the officers, but said a weapon was discovered close to his body. Police have not said what the weapon was.
Residents and park goers reported seeing a man, possibly with a holstered weapon, behaving strangely on the hill just prior to the shooting.
One witness, Isaac McGowan, said his wife may have seen the man as she ran up the hill just before the shooting.
“Two guys walking toward her warned her that he was wearing a holstered gun,” McGowan said. “She looked again and he was air boxing. She ran down the hill away from him and warned everyone walking up.”
Another witness, who declined to give his name, said he was walking his dog in the park just after 7 p.m. when the dog came upon a man eating potato chips. The dog got excited, scaring the man, who jumped up on a bench and stared acting erratically.
According to the witness, the man pulled out a pistol-type stun gun and pointed it at the dog, leading the witness to call the dog back and yell at the man.
The man then stated “flexing,” yelling profanities and threatening him, the witness said. The witness said he quickly left the area, went home and called police.
Possessing Tasers and other stun guns is legal in California, with the exception of convicted felons, drug addicts and people who have misused the devices in the past.
Friends of Nieto say he had experience with stun guns but did not own handgun.
Nieto, known as Alex to his friends, was known as a nonviolent and compassionate young man who worked to better his community, whether through volunteer work or through his Buddhism, said his friend Jonathan Bonato, 53.
Bonato met Nieto in 2008, and worked with him and the Buddhist organization Soka Gakkai International on setting up the Victory Over Violence exhibit in the Bayview neighborhood.
Nieto once worked at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, fighting for youth and against social injustice in the area where he spent much of his life, Bonato said.
“He was an encouragement and inspiration to me,” Bonato said. “I just never in my wildest imagination connected the story on Friday with Alex.”
Bonato said Nieto also held a security job for some time. Nieto also studied criminal justice at City College.
Bonato said the officers’ actions that night have Nieto’s friends “definitely concerned.” They will be holding a vigil at the spot where he died at 5 p.m. Monday night.
UPDATE: Captain Tim Falvey from Ingleside Station has accounted plans to hold a community meeting tomorrow, Tuesday evening, to discuss the incident:
The will be a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 6:00 PM at Leonard R. Flynn Elementary School, 3125 Cesar Chavez. The meeting will be to discuss the officer involved shooting of Friday, March 21, 2014 at Bernal Heights Park.
IMAGE: KTVU screen grab, Friday night.