San Francisco

Proposed Memorial for Alex Nieto, Man Killed by San Francisco Police, Passes First Hurdle With Supervisors' Approval

San Francisco leaders on Tuesday signed off on building a memorial for Alex Nieto, who was gunned down during an encounter with police.

The Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 in favor of an ordinance requiring a memorial be built in Alex Nieto's honor. The proposed memorial will now be up for a vote at a city Art Commission meeting.

"We can honor the men and women of the police department and the dangers that they face and we can honor the men and women of our community who are tragically killed, these are not exclusive things," Supervisor Aaron Peskin said.

The shooting death of Nieto in 2014 sparked outrage among some in the community, but a federal jury found the officers involved did not use excessive force. Police said they fired when Nieto pointed a Taser that looked like a gun at officers and refused to drop it.

Family members and supporters disagree with the verdict, but said a tribute would help begin a healing process.

"This would be a positive step for our community and all of San Francisco to repair ties," Benjamin Bac-Sierra, a spokesperson for the Justice for Alex Nieto Coalition, previously said to NBC Bay Area.

Nieto's parents said through a translator it's a personal victory.

"This means everything because on that hill we celebrate his birthday and his death," Nieto's father said.

Supervisor Mark Farrell, the lone vote against the memorial, argued that approving the memorial sent a message to police officers that Nieto's life was more important than theirs.

"We don't recognize the police officers killed or injured protecting residents," Farrell said. "Somehow we've forgotten the debt we owe these men and women and someone needs to stand up for them."

Martin Halloran, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, provided the following statement Tuesday in response to the vote:

"We believe that we as a city should instead be honoring real heroes, the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our community from harm. Heroes worthy of our civic recognition include San Francisco Fire Lieutenant Vincent Perez, Firefighter and Paramedic Anthony Valerio, and San Francisco Police Officer Nick Birco just to name a few. Many have fallen protecting our great City and its residents - far too many to offer up an individual memorial to each of them."

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle and Bay City News contributed to this report.

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