An eight-member jury found no wrongdoing Thursday on the part of four San Francisco police officers who fatally shot a man in Bernal Heights Park two years ago.
The verdict in the federal civil rights trial marks the end of almost two years of litigation over the high-profile officer-involved shooting of Alejandro "Alex" Nieto on March 21, 2014.
Defendants Richard Schiff, Jason Sawyer, Roger Morse and Nate Chew testified that Nieto pointed a Taser stun gun at them and, believing it was a handgun, they fired at him until he stopped pointing it. Schiff and Sawyer reloaded during what plaintiffs' attorneys characterized as a "one-sided firefight," and the four officers shot a total of 59 times, according to the district attorney's investigation of the shooting, which also cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.
"It’s a tragic event to lose a child in any way that that ever happens," Deputy City Attorney Margaret Baumgartner told reporters after the verdict. "But my officers didn’t violate the Constitution when they used force in this situation, and the jury obviously found that Mr. Nieto had what looked like a gun in his hands."
Three of the officers testified that they saw a red laser sight coming from Nieto's Taser, and they continued to fire as long as they saw it -- and what they thought was a gun -- pointed at them. Morse said he never saw the laser sight, but he believed Nieto was pointing and firing a gun at him.