Police radio dispatch from Alejandro Nieto shooting raises new questions

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Scene from a memorial in Bernal Heights Park for Alejandro Nieto.

Police radio dispatch records from March 21, the night Alejandro Nieto was gunned down in Bernal Heights Park by San Francisco Police Department officers, had been withheld from the public, journalists, and attorneys – until San Francisco reporter Alex Emslie obtained copies of those records via Broadcastify.com and published them on KQED’s website.

The radio dispatch files offer a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of what occurred in the moments leading up to the officer-involved shooting, which has generated tremendous controversy in recent weeks.

Friends and supporters of Nieto have led marches to protest the shooting and are planning ongoing events to keep the pressure on. The SFPD’s account of the incident is that officers opened fire in defense of their own lives because Nieto pointed a Taser at them, causing them to believe he was tracking them with a firearm.

We’ll turn to the audio in a moment, but first, a key point. In an interview following a town hall meeting held by the San Francisco Police Department on March 25, the Bay Guardian asked Police Chief Greg Suhr: “Can you say more about the behavior that was actually reported in the 911 calls?”

Suhr responded, “The information that we had at the time was that he was behaving in an aggressive manner.”

Yet the audio files that have now surfaced reflect no mention of aggressive behavior, nor of a suspect brandishing a weapon.

Here are excerpts of the full sound file, originally posted to KQED’s website:

The first mention of the 221 – police code for person with a gun – is to relate a 911 caller’s description of a Latino male suspect, who has “got a gun on his hip, and is pacing back and forth on the north side of the park near a chain-linked fence.” The next description that comes over the dispatch radio, also apparently related from a caller who was in the park, is that “he is eating chips, or sunflower seeds.”

Several minutes later (here’s the full audio recording), officers can be heard communicating with one another after they have arrived at the park.

First, a voice reports that the “subject is walking down the hill.” Then, 39 seconds later, someone can be heard saying, “He is walking inside the park.”

Six seconds after that, someone says, “There’s a guy in a red shirt, way up the hill, walking toward you guys.”

Several seconds later, a voice calmly states, “I got a guy right here.”

Twenty-six seconds after that, a person can be heard shouting, “Shots fired! Shots fired!”

“What’s very telling is that none of the people are saying, the guy had a gun, he pointed it at us,” said attorney Adante Pointer of the Law Offices of John Burris, which is preparing to file a complaint on behalf of Nieto’s family against the SFPD. “It begs the question, did [Nieto] do what they said he did?”

Pointer added that the sound files still don’t offer a complete picture of what transpired. “There is more than one radio channel,” he pointed out, and added that his firm hopes to obtain other relevant documentation through a process of discovery, once a lawsuit has been filed.

“If this was a righteous shooting,” Pointer said, “then [SFPD] shouldn’t have any fear of being transparent. They shouldn’t have any fear of public scrutiny.”

At an April 14 press conference, Burris discussed the difficulty his office had encountered in its initial attempts to obtain recordings of police radio communications.

Guardian video by Rebecca Bowe

As it turns out, those files were indeed preserved – by a third party. Broadcastify.com, a San Antonio-based company founded by an IT professional who previously worked for IBM, broadcasts live audio transmitted by public agencies picked up by radio scanners, and maintains a publicly available database of sound files.

We attempted to reach San Francisco Police Department’s media relations team this afternoon to discuss these audio files. However, we were informed that all of the public information officers were gone for the day, and unavailable to speak with the press.

Comments

Perp was acting dangerously with weapon exposed (221) and police responded with acceptable force.

Perp was neutralized and nobody was hurt. Good result.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

Nobody was hurt?

What about the kid who was shot to death?

I've been shot.

It hurts.

Posted by Hollister McElroy on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 8:14 pm

That was obviously what was meant here.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 6:56 am

actually, he was innocent. the cops are the guilty ones and none of them were hurt

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2014 @ 9:15 am

deranged at the time of the incident.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2014 @ 9:34 am

He was eating dinner and had the taser for his job working security.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 10:01 pm

weapon about and threatening bystanders and police with it.

Having previously collected two restraining orders for doing the same thing before.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 6:57 am

Since when does an Officer at the scene have to broadcast each and every action or observation? Also, what information was sent to the Officer's in car computers?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 12:49 am

This is a huge tragedy. When the victim, 28 year-old Alejandro Nieto pointed his Taser at the police, at 75 feet away, up on the hill with a setting sun behind Alejandro's back, all the police saw was what looked like a gun mounted with a red laser light targeting device shining on them.

This laser was an automatically activated sighting device on Alejandro's Taser. As firearms can also be fitted with lasers to improve their aim, the police had a genuine reason to believe they were about be shot. They responded out of self preservation.

These facts do not fit with the preferred narrative of many based on a assumption of police aggression. Whenever there is an officer involved shooting, many assume the police are always at fault.

This is a belief born out of anger but also out of police missteps in the past. Just because there have been wrongful shootings doesn't mean this one was.

I believe any police officer in this situation would have tragically responded in the same way. At the moment when you think you are about to be shot, you can and should do everything to defend your life.

Now with 20/20 hindsight we know that the police were never in danger. These police officers, however, had no way to know that when they had to make a split second life and death decision.

Continuing to vent, condemn and accuse helps no one. We need healing and understanding.

David Elliott Lewis, Ph.D.
Co-Chair, Mental Health Board of the City and County of San Francisco

___________________________________________________
P.S. My information about what happened comes from interviewing a member of Nieto's family, a senior police commander and also publically available news reports.

Posted by David Elliott Lewis on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 1:47 am

Best comment I've seen on this tragedy.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 9:24 am

you tried to post this crap on the page set up to honor alex nieto . this is a load of pure crap, and you should be ashamed

Posted by wiseoldsnail on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 5:25 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2014 @ 9:24 am

And you can't get past your hatred of cops to acknowledge even the possibility that this shooting was clean and Nieto was responsible for his own death. Aren't you late to your meeting with your parole officer?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

This is a huge tragedy. When the victim, 28 year-old Alejandro Nieto pointed his Taser at the police, at 75 feet away, up on the hill with a setting sun behind Alejandro's back, all the police saw was what looked like a gun mounted with a red laser light targeting device shining on them.

This laser was an automatically activated sighting device on Alejandro's Taser. As firearms can also be fitted with lasers to improve their aim, the police had a genuine reason to believe they were about be shot. They responded out of self preservation.

These facts do not fit with the preferred narrative of many based on a assumption of police aggression. Whenever there is an officer involved shooting, many assume the police are always at fault.

This is a belief born out of anger but also out of police missteps in the past. Just because there have been wrongful shootings doesn't mean this one was.

I believe any police officer in this situation would have tragically responded in the same way. At the moment when you think you are about to be shot, you can and should do everything to defend your life.

Now with 20/20 hindsight we know that the police were never in danger. These police officers, however, had no way to know that when they had to make a split second life and death decision.

Continuing to vent, condemn and accuse helps no one. We need healing and understanding.

David Elliott Lewis, Ph.D.
Co-Chair, Mental Health Board of the City and County of San Francisco

___________________________________________________
P.S. My information about what happened comes from interviewing a member of Nieto's family, a senior police commander and also publically available news reports.

Posted by David Elliott Lewis on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 1:51 am

Jason Grant Garza here ... dear Mr. Lewis ... I have read your comments above and must admire your divination abilities. It was along the same lines as another commenter (Willie Brown) http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/williesworld/article/Let-s-everybody-calm-... where Mr. Brown states "Never did he sell his vote, steal public money or actually put money in his own pocket, as far as I can tell."

I believe that the term is Risk Management in order to circumvent liability. I mean how could the trained police or a politician do something/anything wrong?

So Mr. Lewis .... here is a video where SF DPH broke the law (denial of services and creating a fake restraining order around me ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cP3jCmJFRo&list=TLdtadDm0EauGxOhzwT2qlt... and while escalating the failure of the police I was sent to Kelly Kruger (SFPD Pysch Liaison and also a member of the Mental Health Board such as yourself Mr. Lewis) and note what I got from her department in 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfhkZlyDrwk and then I was abandoned instead of helped. When I went back I was told Kruger was my ONLY single point of contact. (Rigged procedure) and more recently when finally I was able to speak with Mrs. Kruger (only after continuing to escalate and follow up) she told me that I was not denied services (I was reminded of the Jedi Mind Trick ... you were not denied, you were not denied, you were not denied) and since you too apparently can divine maybe you can explain.

Could it possibly be Risk Management, Inhumane Treatment, Further abuse and harm from Professionals (some might call abuse of power) ? Please help and let me know .... however thank you for being there in your position to allegedly help as is/was Mrs. Kruger.

And while you are at your divination please explain a signed confession http://myownprivateguantanamo.com/settle1.html that my case was thrown out of federal court in 2003 (C02-3485PJH) by testilying and fraud by the city ONLY to sign the confession in 2007 with the Office of Inspector General admitting fault and guilt YET leaving their innocent vindicated victim for DEAD. It is 2014 and NO ONE from the city, courts nor City Attorney have explained as of yet. Maybe you can divine why this is?

And my last note for your information as to mental health care and the FAILURE of this city http://www.sfbg.com/2007/06/27/crazy is an article where the byline is This is nuts: A bizarre tale of the insanity that is SF's mental health system

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on Apr. 20, 2014 @ 10:01 am

Even if it was a gun. As an American Mr. Nieto would have had the right to have it. I don't believe the police where ever in danger. I believe that the police brought the danger to Bernal Heights Park that night with their usual shoot first, Johannes Mehserle-style tactics.

Notice how they isolated him from any witnesses and got their stories all lined up in a certain way for the news. Just because we didn't catch this one on cameraphone, the police think they can get away scott-free.

I have grown up going to Bernal Heights Park at night and let me tell you. 99 times out of 100 dark figures approaching you in the park simultaneously means that you have to deal with some gang bangers running up on you to rob you or worse, and he was protecting his person accordingly.

I guarantee you that if the original call went out CAUCASIAN MALE in khakis, police would have responded with the safeties on, and would have talked it out with the young man.

Unfortunately when the police heard Latin Male in Red and Black. They were already taking the safeties off. When they heard "weapon on his hip" over the radio, the police were pushed over the edge of sensibility. When they heard all three of these stereotypical descriptors on the radio at the same time, they painted a picture in their minds of a Hard-core Norteno Gangbanger and they simultaneously began calculating various successful righteous kill scenarios in their heads, possibly envisioning mayoral award ceremonies for their being placed in harms way.

A trigger-happy and racist police force is a dangerous combo. If you combine that with a self-righteous, self-important attitude, it becomes an explosive compound. The philosophy of "To Protect and Serve" was originally meant to temper the any hot-heads among those committed to working these potentially dangerous and violent police jobs by reminding them that they are there to serve the people of this country. Nowadays the police act as if their guiding philosophy is "To Protect and Serve the Police."

Many Police operate under their own sets of rules understanding full well that they have upper hand in most scenarios from crime-scene to courthouse, and some understand that in their town, no one will police the police.

WE HAVE TO PUSH FOR REAL SYSTEM-WIDE CHANGE in our police force or mark my words. We will see more seemingly senseless violence at the hands of our "Boys in Blue" than ever before.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 3:34 am

Where to begin?

"Even if it was a gun. As an American Mr. Nieto would have had the right to have it."
No he wouldn't. 1) He couldn't own one due to his having a history of mental illness. Chief Suhr brought up the fact that Nieto had applied for a firearms permit but was denied because of mental issues. 2) Even if he was able to legally own a firearm, the only way for him to carry it was locked in a case. He didn't have a CCW, he can't open carry (illegal in CA), and he wasn't licensed to be an an armed security guard or was in a security guard uniform.

"I guarantee you that if the original call went out CAUCASIAN MALE in khakis, police would have responded with the safeties on, and would have talked it out with the young man."
Proof? In a count done of people killed by police over the last thirty years, around 28 white males have been killed by police as opposed to around 5 Latinos.

"Unfortunately when the police heard Latin Male in Red and Black. They were already taking the safeties off. "
Of course they were. When there is a report of a person with a gun, of course police will approach with their safeties off. You also wrote this a few paragraphs prior: "I have grown up going to Bernal Heights Park at night and let me tell you. 99 times out of 100 dark figures approaching you in the park simultaneously means that you have to deal with some gang bangers running up on you to rob you or worse." So why wouldn't they think that a Latino male in Norteno red, with a gun, in an area known to have gang bangers who rob, assault, or murder people, think that they were dealing with trouble?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

Even if it was a gun. As an American Mr. Nieto would have had the right to have it. I don't believe the police where ever in danger. I believe that the police brought the danger to Bernal Heights Park that night with their usual shoot first, Johannes Mehserle-style tactics.

Notice how they isolated him from any witnesses and got their stories all lined up in a certain way for the news. Just because we didn't catch this one on cameraphone, the police think they can get away scott-free.

I have grown up going to Bernal Heights Park at night and let me tell you. 99 times out of 100 dark figures approaching you in the park simultaneously means that you have to deal with some gang bangers running up on you to rob you or worse, and he was protecting his person accordingly.

I guarantee you that if the original call went out CAUCASIAN MALE in khakis, police would have responded with the safeties on, and would have talked it out with the young man.

Unfortunately when the police heard Latin Male in Red and Black. They were already taking the safeties off. When they heard "weapon on his hip" over the radio, the police were pushed over the edge of sensibility. When they heard all three of these stereotypical descriptors on the radio at the same time, they painted a picture in their minds of a Hard-core Norteno Gangbanger and they simultaneously began calculating various successful righteous kill scenarios in their heads, possibly envisioning mayoral award ceremonies for their being placed in harms way.

A trigger-happy and racist police force is a dangerous combo. If you combine that with a self-righteous, self-important attitude, it becomes an explosive compound. The philosophy of "To Protect and Serve" was originally meant to temper the any hot-heads among those committed to working these potentially dangerous and violent police jobs by reminding them that they are there to serve the people of this country. Nowadays the police act as if their guiding philosophy is "To Protect and Serve the Police."

Many Police operate under their own sets of rules understanding full well that they have upper hand in most scenarios from crime-scene to courthouse, and some understand that in their town, no one will police the police.

WE HAVE TO PUSH FOR REAL SYSTEM-WIDE CHANGE in our police force or mark my words. We will see more seemingly senseless violence at the hands of our "Boys in Blue" than ever before.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 3:39 am

You assume way too much. Btw, you have no idea which race the officers were. Asian, white, latino, black??? Maybe all of the above.... To say this is because he was Latino is irresponsible and flat out wrong.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 9:27 am

no matter the race or ethnic heritage of the officers, they are all scum for their ongoing lawless behavior . once one is trained in the antics of the blue gang, one loses sight of their own heritage

Posted by wiseoldsnail on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 5:27 pm

You're an imbecile.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 7:03 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2014 @ 9:26 am

Even if it was a gun. As an American Mr. Nieto would have had the right to have it. I don't believe the police where ever in danger. I believe that the police brought the danger to Bernal Heights Park that night with their usual shoot first, Johannes Mehserle-style tactics.

Notice how they isolated him from any witnesses and got their stories all lined up in a certain way for the news. Just because we didn't catch this one on cameraphone, the police think they can get away scott-free.

I have grown up going to Bernal Heights Park at night and let me tell you. 99 times out of 100 dark figures approaching you in the park simultaneously means that you have to deal with some gang bangers running up on you to rob you or worse, and he was protecting his person accordingly.

I guarantee you that if the original call went out CAUCASIAN MALE in khakis, police would have responded with the safeties on, and would have talked it out with the young man.

Unfortunately when the police heard Latin Male in Red and Black. They were already taking the safeties off. When they heard "weapon on his hip" over the radio, the police were pushed over the edge of sensibility. When they heard all three of these stereotypical descriptors on the radio at the same time, they painted a picture in their minds of a Hard-core Norteno Gangbanger and they simultaneously began calculating various successful righteous kill scenarios in their heads, possibly envisioning mayoral award ceremonies for their being placed in harms way.

A trigger-happy and racist police force is a dangerous combo. If you combine that with a self-righteous, self-important attitude, it becomes an explosive compound. The philosophy of "To Protect and Serve" was originally meant to temper the any hot-heads among those committed to working these potentially dangerous and violent police jobs by reminding them that they are there to serve the people of this country. Nowadays the police act as if their guiding philosophy is "To Protect and Serve the Police."

Many Police operate under their own sets of rules understanding full well that they have upper hand in most scenarios from crime-scene to courthouse, and some understand that in their town, no one will police the police.

WE HAVE TO PUSH FOR REAL SYSTEM-WIDE CHANGE in our police force or mark my words. We will see more seemingly senseless violence at the hands of our "Boys in Blue" than ever before.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 3:41 am

All we have is a trouble-making minority who WANT TO BELIEVE that SFPD acted improperly, but have no evidence or proof to back that up.

Every eye witness agrees on the facts i.e. that Nieto pointed what looked like a firearm at police. Once that happened they had no choice.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 7:00 am

the police participants.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 11:47 am

A jury would need to see evidence that the cops are lying, and not just your self-serving desire to believe that they are.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

every word out of their mouths is suspect as a lie, as they are paid to lie, lie every time they violate a person's rights, and should be in the cages for this murder and every lie surrounding it

nieto didn't get to have a jury consider his innocence that night

Posted by wiseoldsnail on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 5:29 pm
Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2014 @ 9:25 am

This was a good kill.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2014 @ 9:27 am

who the hell is this? you are a sorry, cowardly piece of waste.. your parents taught you to think like that?.... i pity you, and what you represent.i don't think i can even call you a human... i hope you never have to go what this family and community have been going through. although, you deserve it. you sit there and make these comments behind the safety of your computer screen and you have not one single clue about the person your making these comments about. god your pathetic, and im so glad karma will handle you properly....scum.

Posted by emily mitchell on Apr. 22, 2014 @ 7:16 pm

Good to have the Guardian inform us of the reporting by KQED.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 7:52 am

I haven't been following this story closely, so hopefully, someone can provide me with the links I need to read.

When David Lewis says, "When the victim, 28 year-old Alejandro Nieto pointed his Taser at the police, at 75 feet away, up on the hill with a setting sun behind Alejandro's back, all the police saw was what looked like a gun mounted with a red laser light targeting device shining on them ... These facts do not fit with the preferred narrative of many ...," other than the police, who says that Alejandro Nieto pointed his Taser at the police?

And, when a Guest posted, "Every eye witness agrees on the facts i.e. that Nieto pointed what looked like a firearm at police...," which eyewitnesses and where are their statements?

Thank you.

Posted by Thandisizwe Chimurenga on Apr. 18, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

There was an empty clip at scene meaning someone reloaded. This I heard from other sfpd cops. There is no reason to have discharged the amount of rounds that were discharged. Shady.

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Posted by reverse phone lookup on Jul. 09, 2014 @ 5:26 am

This was a very shady affair. The police got away with murder, literally speaking!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 13, 2014 @ 6:00 am

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