Alex Nieto Shooting Investigation Will Be Very Long and Probably Very Unsatisfying

nietoposter nietostenci Neighbor Jim noticed some ad hoc messaging on Cortland yesterday during his morning exercise:

Maybe you’ve already heard, but there are Alex Nieto stencils and posters on Cortland sidewalks on just about every block.

Yes, your Bernalwood editor noticed this as well. The posters remind us that four months after Alex Nieto was killed, justice has not been well served.

Neighbor Alex Nieto was killed during an officer-involved shooting on Bernal Hill during the evening of March 24, 2014. Yet apart from a very raw, very unverified set of assertions presented by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr during a tense community meeting a few days after the shooting, precious little has been learned about the circumstances that resulted in the 28 year-old Bernal resident’s death.

Per San Francisco procedure when an officer-involved shooting takes place, an investigation is currently underway to determine what happened on Bernal Hill that night, and how events culminated in Nieto’s death. Bernalwood had assumed patience is required until such time as the investigation can be completed and the conclusions shared with the public. But we assumed wrong.

To get an update on the status of the investigation, Bernalwood spoke with the SFPD’s Press Office this week, where a helpful representative patiently explained how the process of inquiry works in the case of an officer-involved shooting death. Here’s what we were told…

In the case of Alex Nieto’s death, there are several, parallel investigations underway:

- An SFPD administrative investigation
– A criminal investigation
– The District Attorney’s investigation (which includes a report from the Medical Examiner)
– An investigation by the Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC)

Once each of these investigations is complete, the findings are submitted to the Police Commission. The Police Commission receives the findings in closed session, and the results are not made public. The results are shared with the family of the victim, however, “as a personal matter, not subject to disclosure,” we were told.

The findings forwarded to the Police Commission also include a determination from the DA’s office as to whether the shooting was lawful or unlawful — ie. whether or not it was the result of a criminal or negligent act on the part of the officers involved.

So when will this not-for-public-consumption set of findings reach the Police Commision? That’s unknown, but the SFPD rep says “it takes a while.” Every case is different, but this one involved multiple officers, which makes it more complicated, so it may take long as a year to finalize all the reports. Or maybe less. Or quite possibly more.

(Tragedies are not created equal, so this is only for comparison’s sake, but… The Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash at SFO happened on July 7, 2013. It involved one highly complex Boeing 777 airliner, 307 people on the plane, multiple first-response agencies, two nations with jurisdiction over the case, and three fatalities.  The final report on the cause of the Asiana crash was publicly released less than a year later, on June 24, 2014. Just for comparison.)

Yet if prolonged timing in the Nieto investigation is understandable — first and foremost, it’s essential to get the facts right — the closed-door treatment of the result is disturbing.

In addition, pieces of the investigation that are supposed to be released — such as the Medical Examiner’s report — remain undisclosed.

Adriana Camarena, a representative of The Justice & Love for Alex Nieto Committee created by Nieto’s family and friends, explains:

Basically, the internal SFPD police investigation and the District Attorney’s criminal investigation are both awaiting the delivery of the autopsy report from the Medical Examiner’s Office. Without the report, neither party can conclude their investigation.

There is an outrageous delay in the delivery of an already concluded autopsy report. The D.A. told the Nieto Family that it is normal for two or three years to transpire before delivery of an autopsy report, but these reports are expedited depending on political pressures. (Consider the case of the German tourist shot in 2010, and the fact that six men have already been charged and a seventh recently arrested in 2014.)

D.A. Gascón promised the Nieto Family that he would expedite the autopsy report, but we have had no updates from him or his office. As you know, D.A. Gascón (appointed by Gavin Newsom) is the former Chief of Police of San Francisco and a career police officer (Mesa, Arizona and L.A.P.D.) We are concerned that he will avoid taking Alex Nieto’s case due to possible conflict of interests. It is up to him to take action and prove differently.

For that same reason, we are asking supporters to petition the US General Attorney for an outside federal investigation into the case of Alex Nieto. We demand the truth and untampered evidence for the trials to be delivered expeditiously.

Also, the D.A. promised the Nieto Family that he would investigate the shooting and any police conduct in the aftermath of the shooting that could result in criminal charges (e.g. entering and searching the family home without a warrant, taking and stripping the inside of Alex’s car without a warrant, interrogating the family about Alex under false pretense before telling them that he was killed by SFPD.)

Bernalwood called the District Attorney’s to verify the above, but our call was not returned.

So. If you want to know what actually happened during that warm, terrible evening last March on Bernal Hill, you should expect a very long wait for factual findings that you won’t be allowed to review, but which will ultimately be decided by panel of police commissioners meeting in closed session. That’s what justice in Neighbor Alex Nieto’s case looks like.

It’s something to keep in mind when you see those stencils and handbills on Cortland Avenue.

PHOTOS: Neighbor Jim

Posted in Calamity | 30 Comments

Bernal Neighbor’s Research Links Smarter Brain to Longer Life


This story slipped between the cracks a few weeks ago, but fortunately it’s as timeless as life itself…

In early May, a team of UCSF researchers published published an article that identified a gene which enables both high cognitive functioning and unusual longevity. In other words, there’s a gene that that makes you smarter and live longer — and vice-versa. And science now knows this because the research was organized by none other Neighbor Dena from Banks Street!

Off-hill, she’s known as Dr. Dena Dubal MD,, Ph.D., and she leads the Dubal Lab on Aging and the Brain at UCSF. Here’s what the Chronicle had to say about her recent conclusions:

A gene variant that scientists already knew to be associated with longer life also seems to make people smarter, and may help offset the effects of normal cognitive decline in old age, according to a team of San Francisco researchers.

The findings, published [on May 8] in the journal Cell Reports, are encouraging news for the roughly 1 in 5 people who have the genetic trait, which is a variant of the klotho gene.

Beyond that, scientists hope the findings will help them develop tools for retaining, or even boosting, intelligence in people who have suffered cognitive losses, either from disease or through the normal course of aging.

“What we’ve discovered is a cognitive enhancer,” said Dr. Dena Dubal, an assistant professor of neurology at UCSF and lead author of the study, which was done with researchers from the Gladstone Institutes. “This may represent a new way to treat problems of cognition in the brain.”

You can read lots more about Neighbor Dena’s research, or, in this glamorous video, you can watch as she explains it herself:

Posted in People, Science, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Coffee Shop Named Best Coffee Shop in Bernal Heights


No, that headline isn’t a typo. Coffee Shop, a low-key place at 3139 Mission with an eponymous name and no sign out front, remains something of a Precitaville/La Lengua secret. Yet the secret is starting to spread, because Thrillist just proclaimed Coffee Shop to be the best coffee shop in Bernal Heights:

The name’s deceptively simple, but the coffee brewed up at CoffeeShop is anything but, thanks to a daily offering of Ubuntu and iced coffee that’s cold-brewed for THIRTY SIX HOURS, and features signature coffee ice cubes. And yeah, that’s co-owner Wilson Jones slinging espresso shots behind the bar, like a boss.

PS: For those curious about the opening date for the long-awaited Pinhole Coffee in western Cortlandia, this article says it may happen in August. “Hopefully.”

PHOTO: Coffee Shop, by Thrillist

Posted in Food and Drink | 18 Comments

Security Camera Captures Cranky Person Leaving Cranky Parking Notes on Elsie


A neighbor on Elsie was bemused to find this cranky parking note placed under the windshield wipers of many cars on the street.:

This was placed on many cars on the block, most of which DO belong to people on the street. I checked our security footage and saw someone doing it at 9:50pm. Unfortunately, the picture wasn’t very good.

It’s true; the picture isn’t very good. Then again, it’s better than no picture at all. Bernalwood has reviewed the security camera video, and we can confirm that it clearly reveals Cranky Parking Note-Leaver Person on Elie as a vigorous biped, and not… something else.

Here’s a still image of Cranky Parking Note-Leaver Person, leaving cranky parking notes on Elsie during the evening of July 10, 2014:


Posted in Found Things, Parking | 82 Comments

Cool Old Sign on Cortland Is Actually New, But Still Way Cool


On a recent evening, your Bernalwood editor was strolling in downtown Cortlandia, near the glamorous northeast corner of Cortland and Ellsworth. I looked up as I passed the corner store, and noticed a rather beautiful, retrolicious neon sign that  declared “Pay Little.”

“Words to live by!” I thought. “A credo for the Bernal tribe!”

It was right there — in gorgeous glowing neon. Yet why hadn’t I noticed this gem before?

From the style and the typeface, the sign looked midcentury, circa 1940s. But it was also pristine, and as I looked more closely, I realized that it wasn’t old at all. It was a new sign, extremely well executed. Bravo!

A quick chat with the gentleman behind the counter at the Pay Little confirmed my hypothesis: The sign is new, although it does look old.  And it’s classically cool, regardless.

PHOTO: Telstar Logistics

Posted in Cortland, Found Things | 17 Comments

Globetrotting Bernal Neighbors Still Having Fun, Still Wishing You Were Here


J_borneo and Java 082

When we last heard from Bernal neighbors Matt and Jennifer last November, they were happily enjoying an extended post-retirement tour of Southeast Asia. This week, Neighbor Matt wrote Bernalwood to say… they’re not ready to come home yet:

Just wanted to say hello again. Jennifer and I left Bernal 15 months ago to explore Southeast Asia. At some point we will return. As best I can, I read up on the events around Bernal, and still wish that I could be in two places at once. So far we’vre travelled to Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, and the Indonesian islands of Bali, Borneo, and Java. Bernal has some ties to Bali.

Last September, as a birthday present, a new friend here in Bali (named Heiner) gave me a print from an artist friend he knew in Bernal: Jesse Schlenkler – I received the second painting shown in this post!

I proudly wear by “Bernal Heights” t-shirt often. We met a lovely family who were visitng Bali a few months back, and who saw my shirt and introduced themselves. They have good friends in Bernal, with whom they were soon going to visit. And, another friend of ours here has a good friend from our village on the hill.

Not long ago we happened upon a beautiful roadside wedding in Borneo, and stopped to take photos from across the street. But we were seen by the guests, and invited in – despite our sweaty, dirty appearance. We were well fead, seated in the front row, and then requested to stand with the wedding couple and their parents for dozens of photos. It was all a bit surreal, and really fun. We left 45 minutes later to a hundred waving new friends, blowing us kisses.

My sandles are in Southeast Asia, but my heart is in San Francisco.

PHOTOS: Neighbor Matt in central Java (top), and Borneo

Posted in Travel | 3 Comments

Today: Opening Reception for Bernal Artist in City Hall Office of Supervisor Campos

bermancampos1 bermancampos2

Bernal artist Todd Berman has lots of fans around the neighborhood — including D9 Supervisor David Campos. Neighbor Todd’s art is now on display in Supervisor Campos’s office in City Hall, and from 4 to 7 pm today in Room 268, the Supervisor will host a glamorous opening party:

I am excited to announce that I will be hosting an art exhibit, titled City of Awesome, by local artist, Todd Berman, in my office at City Hall. Todd’s paintings celebrate San Francisco’s creativity, community and captures San Francisco’s unique character.

Please join us for an evening of appreciation of Todd’s art where he will share his City of Awesome project and his approach to community-informed art. The art is currently on display at my office through August 8, 2014.

We hope you can join us! For more information about Todd Berman or the exhibit, check out

Special Bonus! Neighbor Todd also shared an in-progress photo of his new piece; a commission called “View of Precitaville” that shows the stylish southwest corner of Precita Park:

View of Precitaville - in progress detail

PHOTOS: via Todd Berman

Posted in Art, Events, Uncategorized | Leave a comment