Stephen Ellison

SF Supervisor Pushes Permanent Memorial for Man Fatally Shot by Police

A San Francisco supervisor is among those pushing a new proposal to build a public memorial honoring a man fatally shot by city police officers.

The shooting death of Alex Nieto sparked outrage among some in the community, but a federal jury found the officers invovled did not use excessive force.

A makeshift memorial to Nieto already exists in the Bernal Heights neightborhood and is being tended to daily. Now Supervisor John Avalos is hoping to create something more permanent, proposing legislation to do so.

"I discussed it with the family," Avalos said. "I said we’re going to be silent on whether the city should pay for it, but I think it's best the community can come together and raise some money."

Some neighbors like the idea.

"I know a lot of people come out here and pay their respects," Chelsea Jurado said. "I think it would be nice to have a place and really memorialize him and share their love now that he’s gone."

Nieto was fatally shot by police in 2014. Police said they fired after he was ordered to put his hands up, and instead he pulled a stun gun. Nieto’s family and others dispute that version and have been pushing for a memorial.

Now they have support inside City Hall.

"I support it. I think that what happened with Alex Nieto is tragic, and whatever your views are on what took place, there is no question that there has to be some healing," Supervisor David Campos said.

But not everyone is on board.

"They’re nice, lovely people, but still I don’t think we should break a precedent," neighbor Fred Romagnolo said. "This is a public park."

Community meetings whave been scheduled with the Department of Recreation and Parks, and approval would be needed from the city's arts commission.

Supporters said they are hoping if all goes as planned they can have a memorial installed after the first of the year.

San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran released a statement in response to the proposed memorial:

"We believe that we 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 Lt. Vincent Perez and firefighter and paramedic Anthony Valerio, Oakland police Sgts. Mark Dunakin, Ervin Romans, Daniel Sakai and Officer John Hege, and San Francisco police Officer Nick Birco."

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