Vigil marks 10 years since Alex Nieto was shot and killed by SFPD officers

Friends and family of Alex Nieto gathered for a vigil on Thursday to mark 10 years since the 28-year-old security guard was shot and killed by San Francisco police while armed with a stun gun. At the time, Nieto's death sparked protests and accusations of excessive force, but the officers involved were ultimately cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.  

The District Attorney at the time, George Gascon, had determined the officers acted lawfully in self-defense. 

"It’s been 10 long years, but…over the 10-year-period it’s been hard work looking for answers," said Alex's father, Refugia Nieto, speaking through a translator. 

On March 21, 2014, four officers responded to a 911 call at Bernal Heights park about a suspicious person with a gun in a holster. Police said Nieto drew a weapon from his hip and pointed it at officers. That’s when police said officers opened fire. They fired 59 shots. 

The weapon Nieto had was a stun gun, which he carried for his job as a security guard. A federal civil lawsuit on the officers' use of force was filed, but a jury ultimately exonerated the officers in the wrongful death trial. 

"We see their resistance, we see their resilience, and they inspire us," said a vigil organizer on Thursday about the Nieto family. "They do feel that the system has failed them. They still do not have justice." Dozens of people attended the vigil. 

SEE ALSO: Police: Officers who fatally shot Alex Nieto acted within SFPD policies

Prior to the shooting, the family said the park was a special place for Nieto.

"Their son introduced them to this place and showed them the hill, and now they come every day to remember their son, and say prayers at the altar," said a family friend. 

For years, a temporary memorial of stones has been in place to honor Nieto at the park, but his parents say they now plan to erect a more permanent structure.

"We are announcing that we are moving forward, and we are actually going to be building a memorial for Alex Nieto soon," said a family friend.

Vigil organizers said they were still fundraising for the memorial, and were not able to provide a date for when construction might begin.    

MORE: San Francisco Supervisors OK Bernal Heights memorial for Alex Nieto