SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Activists, family members and supporters marked the five-year anniversary of the death of Alex Nieto at the hands of San Francisco police.
A crowd of around 60 people attended Thursday evening's blessing ceremony and memorial service to remember Nieto.%INLINE%%INLINE%
The 28-year-old security guard was shot and killed by police on March 21, 2014 at San Francisco Bernal Heights Park. He was carrying his stungun, which he used for his job.
The event dubbed an "Angelversary" of a Facebook events page, began at 6 p.m. with supporters trekking to the makeshift memorial yet again to share food, music, poetry, a low-rider bike show and a moment of silence at 7:18 p.m., the time Nieto was killed.
The night he was killed, SFPD responded to reports of a call of a suspicious person with a gun in a holster. Police said Nieto drew a weapon from his hip and pointed it at officers. They fired 59 shots, killing Nieto, but the weapon turned out to be a stungun.
The shooting sparked angry protests and a federal lawsuit about police use of force.
Friends described Nieto as a peaceful person.
"He was an amazing person. Honestly it's always hard for me to come up here," said Jeff Staulcup one of Nieto's friends. "Every time I come up this hill, it's like I'm facing a huge heavy pain in my heart."
Nieto's mother, Elvira, spoke to us through a translator. "It is very difficult to remember Alex on this day, but the community unity and love has inspired her," the translator said. %INLINE%
"He was a buddhist. He had never been arrested in his life," said Benjamin Bac Sierra, another friend in attendance.
District Attorney George Gascon declined to file criminal charges against the four officers involved in the shooting.
Nieto's family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging wrongful death. A jury cleared the officers of all charges. %INLINE%
All four officers remain on the force, according to SFPD.
As hard as it is for friends and family to return to the place where their friend was killed, they hope the Alex Nieto memorial will be installed at Bernal Heights Park this summer.
The family wants it installed in the park and supporters say the cost will be paid for by donations and a grant. The work will be done pro-bono.
The Nieto's say they hope to find solace through the community support for this memorial. The city's recreation and parks department is expected to vote on the memorial next month.
A graphic posted on the Facebook event page says the grassroots movement in Alex Nieto's honor arose out of violence and injustice. It concludes, "Amor for Alex Nieto." %INLINE%