Medical Examiner’s Report in Alex Nieto Case Details 10+ Gunshot Wounds, Mental Health History, Taser Discharge


After a long and disgraceful delay, the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office finally released its report on the March 21 officer-involved shooting death of Bernal resident Alex Nieto on Bernal Hill.  Yet in the style of a politician or corporate bigwig who seeks to disclose information while blunting its impact, the medical examiner’s report in the Nieto case was released on Friday — just as San Francisco headed into the low-attention weekend.

So now, on a paying-attention Tuesday, let’s consider what the report says, and what it might tell us about the case of Neighbor Alex Nieto.

If you’re a primary-source kind of person who wants to read the medical examiner’s report in unfiltered form, you can find the full text of the report right here (courtesy of KQED).

If you want the digest, we’ll share the SF Appeal’s version, which highlights both Nieto’s injuries and the section of the report detailing his mental-health history:

The San Francisco medical examiner’s office released a full autopsy report Friday for 28-year-old Alejandro “Alex” Nieto that confirmed he was struck by at least ten bullets when he was fatally shot by police at Bernal Heights Park in March.

Nieto, a San Francisco native who lived on Cortland Avenue in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, was a security guard who attended City College of San Francisco. He had aspirations of being a probation officer.

Nieto was killed on March 21 by San Francisco police officers and the autopsy report indicates that Nieto suffered as many as 15 gunshot wounds from as few as ten bullets.

The Nieto family’s lawyer, civil rights attorney John Burris, said Friday that he has never seen an autopsy report that released so much information about the deceased’s alleged history regarding mental health problems and police contact.

The medical examiner’s office notes numerous details in the autopsy report, such as an incident in 2011 in which Nieto was not taking his medication and received 72-hours of involuntary psychiatric treatment after allegedly “attempting to burn his parents’ house down.”

Burris said he was surprised to see that the medical examiner’s office included medical records from San Francisco General Hospital that, according to the autopsy, “revealed a history of aggressive and bizarre behavior, auditory hallucinations,” as well as Nieto’s noncompliance to prescriptions for two atypical anti-psychotic drugs.

The medical examiner’s office reported traces of cannabinoids in Nieto’s system at his time of death and no trace of anti-psychotic medications.

The other item of note in the report is the assertion that Nieto’s pistol-shaped Taser had been discharged at some point during his confrontation with the SFPD. Here’s how that section reads in the report’s case history:


Justice for Alex Nieto, the committee formed by Alex’s family and friends in response to his death, has published a lengthy response to the medical examiner’s report that seeks to refute many of its key assertions. Here’s an excerpt:

There is no reason or authority for the Medical Examiner to act as a police detective investigating any possible rationale for anything that happened on Bernal Heights on Friday, March 21. Their job is simply to conduct an examination of the body and notify the public of the medical examination concerning the cause of death. The San Francisco Medical Examiner is not a detective agency; if they were, then they should also be investigating the background and disciplinary records of the police officers who killed Alex Nieto, yet we still do not even have those officers’ names. The San Francisco Medical Examiner is supposed to be unbiased and transparent in safeguarding the public good, yet here they are obviously attempting to besmirch the character of Alex Nieto, even though that is not their job.

The report also claims that Alex brandished his taser, yet it is not the medical examiner’s job to make any determinations on possible brandishing of tasers. In an unbiased manner, they are simply supposed to determine cause of death. Their statement about brandishing obviously shows that they are using the police account as fact, which is not part of the medical examiner’s job.

The long-awaited release of the medical examiner’s report is an important milestone in the Nieto case, because it’s first time in almost six months that new information about the shooting has been officially released. Moreover, the medical examiner’s report plays an important role in the parallel (but opaque) investigations underway to ascertain if officers acted legally when Nieto was shot on March 21.

The investigation process as a whole is slow, cumbersome, secretive, and far from ideal. Unfortunately, it’s also the only process we currently have.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Posted in Bernal Hill, Calamity, Crime | 2 Comments

Just Our Style: Hear the New Song from Bernal Native J.Quest



A few weeks ago, Bernalwood received a charming shout-out on the Twitter:

Love that. “Hell yeah” was the only appropriate response.

Just like Superman has his Clark Kent, J.Quest is also known as Justin Botza. In a follow-up email, Justin explained:

I am a 3rd generation Bernal Heights native who grew up on Elsie street. I classify myself as a blue-collared Hip Hop artist who draws inspiration from The City and my mixed heritage, and that definately brings a unique yet classic sound to my music.

I have a 7-song EP coming out this year titled “Struggles & Dreams” With production by Dregs 1, Joe Dubb, Posafe & my own in house studio 1225 production team.

The first single “Just My Style” will be include on the EP.

I’m very proud to be doing my part… putting on for Bernal Heights!

Bernalwood was eager to share Justin J.Quest’s new music with you right away. But then J.Quest Justin suggested we hold off just a little bit, because he first wanted to do a photo shoot on Bernal Hill. (Oh, hell yeah, we said.)

Well, now the photos are in, and the new single is online, and it’s a very sweet jam. Let’s listen:

Oh hell yeah. We’ve got style like that.

Congratulations, Justin!

PHOTOS: J.Quest, courtesy of William Anderson

Posted in Music | 10 Comments

See the Bernal Hill Players on Sunday — For Free!


Ready to get your chamber music on? The price is right to see the Bernal Hill Players this weekend, on Sunday, September 14 at 4:00 the Community Music Center on Capp Street.

BHP shares the big news:

The Bernal Hill Players will play a concert entitled Musical Chairs: Chamber Music from the 1800s to Now, for Flute, Clarinet, Cello and Piano as part of the Community Music Center’s Shenson Faculty Series.
This concert features four prominent Bay Area chamber musicians in various instrumental combinations, including an elegant German Classical Sinfonia by Franz Danzi, a virtuosic French Romantic flute trio by Louise Farrenc, a Fellini-esque Italian clarinet trio by Nino Rota, an Indian and jazz-influenced woodwind duo by Russell Peterson, and dynamically rhythmic Latin American compositions by Eduardo Gamboa and Miguel del Aguila.
Performers are Martha Rodríguez-Salazar on flute, Sarah Bonomo on clarinet, and Jennifer Peringer on piano. Guest cellist: Laura Gaynon.
WHERE: Community Music Center, 544 Capp Street (at 21st), San Francisco, CA 94110
WHEN: Sunday, September 14 at 4 PM
Thanks to the Shenson Foundation for their support of this free community concert.
The Bernal Hill Players have been playing concerts since 2008 throughout the Bay Area and Mexico City, have commissioned several pieces by Bay Area and Mexican composers, and have produced a CD entitled “San Francisco: In an About the City” about neighborhoods of San Francisco.  Their mission is to play a wide and rich repertoire, to commission new works, to create interesting arrangements of existing works, and to use chamber music as a way of both celebrating local community and creating cross-cultural musical connections.
Posted in Events, Music | Leave a comment

Saturday Morning: Cleanup Party in Precita Park


When you look down at Precita Park from the safety and climate-contolled comfort of the Google Earth blimp, it looks… Peaceful. Pristine. Like an urban oasis.

Actually, when you look at Precita Park from street level, it looks pretty damn awesome as well.

This is no accident. Precita Park looks so super-sexy in no small part because of all the hard work Neighbor Demece Garepis has done through the years under the auspices of Precita Valley Neighbors, the volunteer group she so valiantly leads.

Tomorrow morning, PVN is organizing a neighborly Precita Park cleanup party… and it’s a great opportunity to give the park some of your love.  Neighbor Demece says:

We are going to Clean Up Precita Park!

Join us this Saturday, Sept. 13 at 9:30a am. Meet in the Children’s Playground. Bring your bags, hand shovels, and rakes! Neighborly conversation and friendship provided.

IMAGE: Via Google Earth Pro

Posted in Activism, Events | Leave a comment

This is America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon, and It’s from Bernal Heights


This weekend, those grease-stained fathers from the Bernal Dads Racing team will depart Bernal Heights to compete at the Thunderhill Park Raceway in scenic Willows, California. That’s where they plan to race The Whale — their battle-scarred Volvo 240 station wagon — in yet another another absurdist 24 Hours of LeMons endurance race.

This represents the latest in a long series of comebacks for The Whale, which has suffered countless blows and indignities during its long racing career.

Indeed, this race car is so valiant, so unstoppable, so tolerant of abuse, and so much more nimble than you’d imagine any erstwhile family truckster to be that Bernalwood is hereby anointing The Whale as America’s Most Badass Volvo Station Wagon. And, just like you, The Whale calls Bernal Heights home.

Neighbor Brandon from Bernal Dads Racing makes the case for The Whale’s paramount badassitude:

Bernal Dads Racing has been circling West Coast race tracks for six-and-a-half years and 20 or so 24 Hours of LeMons races. The Whale, aka La Polpetta Svedese, aka a white 1985 Volvo 240 wagon rescued from Craigslist, has been our main ride for almost all of this storied racing career, taking the green flag in 17 of those 20 races. We later added a second car, a 1995 Miata with identity issues, to allow more Dads to race. But The Whale has always been the heart of our operation — and it remains so to this day.

The Whale is a survivor. We didn’t know this when we chose it; we just wanted a rear-wheel-drive car, and it seemed appropriate for a bunch of dads to race a family wagon optimized for hauling kids to soccer practice. So we bought one. Here’s how The Whale looked before we met… when it was just another suburban Volvo for sale on Craigslist:


Then came the race-prep, and the installation of a roll cage and racing seat, and the happy afterlife. Chloe’s Closet sponsored the back doors, and the Stray Bar (sniff) bought the hood:


In its second race, at the notorious Altamont Speedway, an overly ambitious competitor slammed into the front wheel, bending the strut so far that the tire rubbed against it. Once a spare was sourced from another team running a Volvo, it was back on the track in 30 minutes. This pattern has been repeated many, many times since: Race, wreck, repair, race more.

In a race at Sears Point, The Whale was T-boned so severely that the passenger side of the roll cage bent inward and the engine popped right off its mounts. Our resident Volvo expert eyeballed the motor mount dimensions, gave them to a machinist, and The Whale was back on track in short order. (The big dent on the passenger side remains to this day.)

Later, in red-and-white “Team Lettuce” livery, The Whale proved itself to be an adept competitor in fair weather …


… and foul:


At another Sears Point race, while finally in the lead of our class, the engine suffered a catastrophic loss of oil and total failure. This turned out to be the only race where The Whale failed to take the checkered flag at the end of the weekend.

At another race, the transmission gave up the ghost (also at Sears Point… hmmm), but Neighbor Ben, our resident Volvo whisperer, located a spare via a Volvo forum. We picked it up from a home in San Rafael, where the transmission had been used as a lawn ornament. After an overnight swap, The Whale was back on track the next day. That’s still the transmission we’re using.

The Whale has been through more fenders than we can count. Our hoods have not fared much better.

The Dads’ most recent LeMons race, last June at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in wilds of the Central Valley near Bakersfield, proved to be another classic Whale outing. This video pretty much sums up the weekend. Our fastest lap of the weekend was immediately followed by a very hard front-end collision (jump ahead to about 3:30 in the video) as our aspirations for race glory crashed to the ground:

Notice that despite the hard impact, The Whale started right back up again. The other car? It was pushed onto a trailer and carted home a few hours later.

Here’s another view of the crash, as seen from the front seat of the car that triggered the wreck. From this perspective, I like how it looks as if The Whale is eating the other car:

This is me, posing with The Whale after I brought it back in to the paddock:



After lots of banging of sledgehammers, jumping, and jacking, The Whale was back on track fifteen minutes later. The body was a mess, but the mechanicals were fine, the radiator was undamaged, and the front suspension even remained aligned. Then it was back to racing:


The Whale is a survivor. It’s been through vehicular combat. Then more vehicular combat. And then some more after that. And pretty much it does not give up.

Although there were a few more moments of drama, The Whale completed that last race despite all the damage and abuse it had sustained. Here’s how it looked a few weeks later, after we removed the bent sheet metal and rotten flesh:


Now, however, The Whale has received another new hood, a new bumper, a new grill, a new radiator housing, and yet another new fender… with a new shark-mouth painted by Bernalwood’s Cub Reporter:


Then we put it all back together, with more turning of bolts and banging of hammers. Here is what The Whale looks like now, as we head to the track this weekend:


Good as new!  Next stop: Thunderhill Raceway.

No matter what happens there, most of the Bernal Dads have already concluded that our kids’ first cars will be old Volvos.

For trackside updates on The Whale this weekend, check out the Bernal Dads Racing page on Facebook.

UPDATE: 15 September Wheeee! Here’s your post-race report: Last weekend at Thunderhill, The Whale did what the Whale does best… it just did not quit. The car was flawless all weekend, with no mechanical glitches.

LeMons at Thunderhill 2014

The humans who drove it were not so impeccable, however. In particular, your Bernalwood editor racked up some shameful penalties that proved very costly. Despite that — or, rather, despite me — the Bernal Dads still had an excellent weekend. The Whale not only finished the race, but it finished ninth in it’s class — its best finish ever. Here’s the team’s post-Thunderhill glamor photo:


PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Posted in Cars | 6 Comments

Hear Tim and Erin Archuleta from Ichi Sushi on Burrito Justice Radio


In case (like me) you missed hearing it live, you can now listen to a recording of yesterday’s action-packed episode of La Lengua rebel leader’s Burrito Justice Radio, featuring special celebrity guests Tim and Erin Archuleta from the intergalactically famous Ichi Sushi on Mission Street!

Listen to this terrific episode to learn:

  • When does Team Ichi plan to open their new oyster bar in the original Ichi space?
  • FACT: Celebrity sushi chef Tim Archuleta used to hate fish!
  • The scandalous tale of how Tim and Erin met! (Hint: It was the karaoke)
  • Tim’s goal: Build a ski lift-style “bunny tow” from Mission Street to Upper Cortland
  • How to eat four meals a day — with a friend — in Tokyo for just $100 a day!
  • What song did Tim and Erin dance to during their glamorous pre-celebrity wedding?
  • Why should you be eating local salmon and albacore RIGHT NOW?
  • Can “burrito railgun” technology trim the carbon footprint of imported Japanese fish?

All that, and so much more. Listen to the whole thing, on your interweb terminal, right now, right here!

Posted in Celebrity, Media | 2 Comments

Writer Chris Colin Invites You To a Curious Pop-Up Dinner in His Bernal Heights Home


Bernal neighbor and celebrity journalist Chris Colin extends this unusual invitation to attend an unusual dinner party at his Bernal Heights home:

A little news, neighbors: I’m starting a restaurant! It launches Friday, Oct. 3, in Bernal. It’s going to be awesome. I’m also closing this restaurant, on Oct. 4. Please come eat at this exclusive, one-night-only affair.

I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll do this under the auspices of a site that arranges similar pop-up restaurants in people’s homes — for instance — or just on my own. Either way, it’ll feature 8-10 people coming to our house, and my wife and me serving our best food and drinks, plus maybe some other fun little whatnots.

We’re not chefs. We’re people who throw decent dinner parties. That’s part of the appeal for me — finding out whether regular people, who cook good food and dim the lights just so, could ever run a successful restaurant. If you’re someone who likes taking chances on weird and larky things, we’d really love to have you.

The fine print: We cannot know each other. Why? Because I’m also writing a magazine story about the experience, and will want to extract your unbiased opinions about it. This also means you’ll have to be okay with being written about, and possibly photographed. Nothing weird or TMZ’ish, I promise.

About us: I’m a writer, my wife Amy is a public radio reporter. I write about food sometimes, and Amy once co-published a magazine about meat. But mostly we’re no more involved in food than your average Bay Areans. We live in Bernal and have two kids, whom we’ll boot for the night. Duh.

Drop me a line if you’re game, or maybe game! It’ll be a fun night and you’ll meet interesting people and it’ll be a thing to remember. We hope it will be delicious, too. Worst-case scenario, well, I guess that’d be a giant meteor. That’d be just horrible.

Thanks for reading. Details below.
Chris Colin

When: 7pm, Oct. 3, 2014
Where: Bernal Heights, not far from Sandbox Bakery
Price: $55 per person, incl. alcohol

First-come, first-served. Dietary restrictions can’t be accommodated — sorry, too new at this!

UPDATE: In the comments, Chris says this event is now SOLD OUT.  We look forward to the report after the dinner takes place

ILLUSTRATION: Supper with Chris Colin, by Bernalwood

Posted in Events, Food and Drink, Uncategorized | 11 Comments