Jury decides police who shot at man 59 times did not use excessive force

Jury decides police who shot at man 59 times did not use excessive force Mashable We're using cookies to improve your experience. Click Here to find out more. Mashable Mashable Mashable Australia Mashable France Mashable India Mashable UK Sign in Like Follow Follow Mashable see more  > Search Videos Social Media Tech Business Entertainment World Lifestyle Watercooler Shop More Channels Videos Social Media Tech Business Entertainment World Lifestyle Watercooler Shop Company About Us Licensing & Reprints Archive Mashable Careers Contact Contact Us Submit News Advertise Advertise Legal Privacy Policy Terms of Use Cookie Policy Apps iPhone / iPad Android Resources Subscriptions Sites Mashable Shop Job Board Social Good Summit World Like Follow Follow Jury decides police who shot at man 59 times did not use excessive force 2.7k Shares Share Tweet Share What's This? "Justice for Alex Nieto" signs line San Francisco streets along the predominantly-Latino Mission District and in Bernal Heights, where he was gunned down. Image: Asskar Zalinass/JusticeForAlexNieto.org By Gillian Edevane 2016-03-10 21:28:56 UTC SAN FRANCISCO — The civil trial over the fatal police shooting of Alejandro "Alex" Nieto concluded Thursday, with a federal jury finding that officers did not use excessive force when they opened fire. Nieto, who was carrying a tazer, was killed in a hail of gunfire in March 2014 in San Francisco's Bernal Hills Park. In a span of about a minute, four officers fired a total of 59 bullets at the 28-year-old, 14 of which hit him in the head, shoulders and back. The San Francisco district attorney's office declined to criminally indict the officers in February 2015, on grounds that the police had "acted reasonably" in self defense. It took the jury roughly eight hours over the course of two days to return with a verdict. Once read, the Nieto family left the court in tears, while defense lawyers and officers embraced and exchanged "congratulations." "I very much feel for the family," said Deputy City Attorney Margaret Baumgartner, who represented the officers, at a press conference after the trial. "However, I did not think that the officers violated the constitution when they used lethal force against Mr. Nieto on this particular day, and the jury agreed." Adante Pointer, the attorney who represented Alex's parents, Elvira and Refugio Nieto, said that the jury's decision is a huge blow that will have devastating effects for San Francisco. “The verdict was not what the Nietos deserve, and it’s not what the city deserves,†Pointer said outside the courthouse. “What you have here is a green light to fire 59 shots in a public park." See also: Justice Department launches review of San Francisco Police over Mario Woods shooting Two starkly different versions of events leading up to the shooting emerged at the civil trial, held at the San Francisco Federal Court building under Judge Nathanael Cousins. City attorneys argued that the four officers — Richard Schiff, Jason Sawyer, Roger Morse, and Nathan Chew — were responding to a dispatch call about a man waving a gun around and feared for their lives when they opened fire. Nieto, who worked as a security guard at a nightclub, had been carrying a work-issued taser at the time of the shooting, but whether he brandished the taser and fired at officers remained a key point of contention throughout the 8-day trial. Alex Nieto's mother, (middle left, in red blouse) and father (middle right, in white shirt) on the last day of trial. Image: Benjamin Bac Sierra/Rebecca Solnit Baumgartner said the officers mistook the taser for a gun and shot only after Nieto pointed it at them. Sawyer, a department veteran and an experienced shooter, testified that a red light beam coming from the taser made him believe it was a gun with technology designed to increase firing accuracy. “When he pointed a gun at [the officers], and aimed at them with a red laser sight, all they knew was this was a man with a gun who aimed at them,†Baumgartner said during opening statements. One of many San Francisco street paintings paying tribute to Alex Nieto. Image: Asskar Zallinas/Justice4AlexNieto.Org Pointer painted a different picture, one that hinged on the 8-person jury believing that the officers were overzealous in their pursuit of Nieto. In his opening statements, he stressed that Schiff, who was still in field training at the time of the shooting, was a "rookie" who was already primed for a shootout after receiving the call from dispatch. “As soon as I could I tried to fire,†Schiff told the jury. He had been in field training with the San Francisco Police Department for a little over two months, and during the shooting emptied his clip, reloaded and kept firing, which Pointer used as an example of excessive force. All four of the officers continued shooting once Nieto was on the ground, although Sawyer testified that Nieto still was brandishing his taser after he had fallen. The pla