Claim filed over SFPD shooting of Alejandro Nieto

Civil rights attorney John Burris joined family and supporters of Alejandro Nieto, who was killed by SFPD officers.

The family of Alejandro Nieto, the 28-year-old City College student and community activist who was gunned down by the San Francisco Police Department March 21, has filed a claim against the city in preparation for a lawsuit responding to what they allege was an unjustified shooting. 

Friends, family and supporters of Nieto gathered in front of San Francisco City Hall April 14 with attorney John Burris, who is representing Nieto’s family. Burris is a prominent civil rights lawyer known for representing families whose sons have died as a result of officer involved shootings, including the family of Oscar Grant.

An initial examination of the body suggests Nieto died from wounds inflicted by at least 10 bullets, fired by multiple officers, Burris said. Police initially encountered Nieto in Bernal Heights Park in response to a 911 call reporting a man with a gun. Nieto, who was employed full-time as a security guard, actually possessed a Taser and not a firearm. Police said officers opened fire because he pointed the Taser at them, and they confused it with a gun when they saw a red dot emitted from the device after it was drawn, tracking officers.

Burris isn’t buying the police department's account, but said he faces obstacles obtaining key information that would shed light on the incident.

“We have not been able to obtain the 911 audio,” or other communications records documenting what happened just before and after the shooting, Burris said. So far, the San Francisco Medical Examiner has not released an official report.

“That is part of the problem we are up against. We can make requests and ask for it to be preserved,” he said of the audio files, “but we cannot get it. And unfortunately, lawsuits are one way that we know we’re going to get it.”

Benjamin Bac Sierra, a friend of Nieto’s who is serving as a spokesperson for the family, waved a bundle of petitions he and community members had collected to call for an investigation at the local level. “Besides filing this claim, the family demands that San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon launch an official investigation into Alex’s killing by the San Francisco Police Department,” Bac Sierra said. “We demand that the district attorney fully investigate this case on behalf of Alex and his family.”

Burris said he believed moving forward with an independent lawsuit was necessary even as the Office of Citizen Complaints, an independent agency overseen by the San Francisco Police Commission, advances its own investigation.

“I’ve worked with the OCC on many cases in the past, but that’s on a parallel track. They have one process, we have another,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have to do our own to protect ourselves.”

Burris also said that given the recent history of federal prosecution against the SFPD, he believed the involvement of the U.S. Attorney’s office would be appropriate. “We’re requesting that the U.S. Attorneys here with the Department of Justice conduct an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Alex’s death,” Burris said, “and if necessary, file criminal charges against these officers.”

In a later conversation with the Bay Guardian, Bac Sierra noted that an audio recording of the shooting had been obtained from a neighbor of the park, who captured it through a home security system. Bac Sierra said the recording suggests two shots were initially fired, followed by a pause, followed by "a continuous volley" of shots. Bac Sierra, who declined to provide the neighbor’s name, said the sound file did not contain audible verbal communications prior to the shots being fired.

Community members angered by Nieto’s death have set up a website,, and have planned an event for the one-month anniversary of the shooting. Called Burritos on Bernal Hill, the gathering is scheduled for Monday, April 21, at Precita Park at 5pm.


racecard-playing lawyer in the Bay Area.

AKA, a racist.

This case doesn't stand a chance.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

"Burris isn’t buying the police department's account". When has Burris EVER bought a police department's account???

If a cop shot a suicide bomber with a a vest full of C4 and his finger on the trigger, Burris would sue and claim that the police: A) racially profiled his client, B) the police used unnecessary force, and C) his client had a loving family and was in the process of turning his life around when the police "murdered" him.

Dennis Herrera had better not settle with this parasite. He needs to take a stand and show that Burris doesn't get a dime unless he actually proves misconduct IN COURT. Otherwise we're going to turn into Oakland where as soon as they hear Burris's name, they just cut a check, regardless of the circumstances.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

So this guy points a taser with a laser scope at the police, and the family wants to sue because he was shot?

If I was a cop and someone pointed something at me that looked like a gun, I'd shoot them, too.

Do a google search for "attorney John Burris" and then click on "news"... this guy's just an ambulance chaser that pulls the race card all the time.

What a joke and mockery of our justice system. Thanks John, you piece of crap.

Posted by benjamin on Apr. 15, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

often pays the plaintiff off rather than go through the whole process of discovery and trial.

So it is essentially a shakedown and a form of extortion.

Burris is a leech

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2014 @ 3:10 pm

So this guy points a taser with a laser scope at the police, and the family wants to sue because he was shot?

If I was a cop and someone pointed something at me that looked like a gun, I'd shoot them, too.

Do a google search for "attorney John Burris" and then click on "news"... this guy's just an ambulance chaser that pulls the race card all the time.

What a joke and mockery of our justice system. Thanks John, you piece of crap.

Posted by benjamin on Apr. 15, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

would be entering the scene!! Mr. 50% is on the case!!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

Why would his family let him walk around with a taser? He obviously had mental health issues. We know it's on record since he was denied access to firearms. Now they're suing the city?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 15, 2014 @ 7:55 pm

He was a security guard. .. eating dinner before work...and never applied for a gun...didn't have mental issues. ..learn your facts before you judge. ..ignorant fool..dont believe the news lol...

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 8:23 am

using it to threaten his family, friends and bystanders, and pointing it at cops.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 9:36 am

Nieto DID apply for a firearm license but was denied. The only way to be denied a firearm license in CA is if you: A) are a felon, B) have been convicted of domestic violence, or C) have a DOCUMENTED history of mental illness. Suhr raised the issues of the denied firearm at that town hall meeting and that it was denied because Nieto had mental issues.

Maybe YOU should learn some actual facts before you post. Would probably help your argument...

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 3:18 pm ... need, retard.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

SFPD murders again, and they'll likely get away with it. No citizen is safe here...your "rights" mean nothing to the police.

Posted by on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 6:14 am

"Nutjob Nieto" was anything other than a legitimate kill.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 6:53 am

Then move if you're so scared.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

With the Nieto killing, SFPD nowaday means "Shoot Fatally, Play Dumb."

Posted by Peter on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 10:05 am

Oh wait, there is none.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 11:29 am

Jason Grant Garza here ... I hope that the Nieto family look at the videos I have posted on youtube under Jason Garza in regard to medical care, SFPD enforcement of it, SFPD CIT (Crisis Intervention Team), the risk management received at ALL LEVELS, the GAME playing and continuing INHUMANITY. Here is a GREAT example from the Special Victims Unit Room 550 under Kelly Kruger (my only single failing point of contact)

Something else I find interesting from an article That system of police oversight, from the Office of Citizen Complaints to the District Attorney’s Office, rarely finds police in the wrong, Burris said. Yet at least three recent incidents — a federal indictment of six officers for allegedly violating constitutional rights, a police-involved shooting that ended with a wounded officer and Nieto’s death — show they do in fact mess up and even break the laws, he said. “It’s always justified,” said Burris of the findings of most investigations into police shootings. yet per the article Complaints against SF cops hit low mark, but public remains skeptical where the OCC is INCORRECTLY GLORIFIED ... look at my comment on the article ... Mr. Burris per the article states John Burris, a well-known Bay Area civil-rights attorney, said he sends clients to the OCC for investigations. “On balance, I think they do a pretty decent job,” Burris said of the office.

Are you confused?

Anyway go to youtube and type in Jason Garza to see close to 400 videos regarding health care, NO medical law enforcement, followup with the rigged SFPD and OCC ...yes it is ALL exposed. I wish the Nieto family all the best; however, CCSF does not play fair (it had my case dismissed on testiltying and fraud in 2003 C02-3485PJH) only to sign a confession in 2007 with the OFFICE of Inspector General admitting fault and guilt YET leaving its innocent vindicated victim for DEAD and it is 2014 and NO ONE from the courts, DPH, SFPD or City Attorney have explained as a matter of fact it just continues ... so do I expect help, civility or humanity for the Nieto ( not just NO but HELL NO ) from the city ... it will be schorced earth tactics and when BUSTED not even the HUMANITY to come clean, explain nor compensate for HARM and DAMAGES.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Apr. 16, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

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