One of two officers involved in a fatal police shooting near San Francisco’s Pine Lake Park earlier this month was also involved in a controversial 2014 police shooting in Bernal Heights.
Police identified Officer Nathan Chew and Officer Paul Dominguez as the officers who shot and killed an allegedly mentally disturbed man on Oct. 14. The shooting took place after a suspect in a disturbance at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store at 1533 Sloat Blvd. allegedly opened on fire on police.
One officer, Kevin Downs, was struck in the head with a shot police say nearly killed him and has left him with some paralysis.
The suspect, later identified as Pacifica resident Nicholas McWherter, 26, was shot by Chew and Dominguez after he fled into Sigmund Stern Recreation Grove and surrounding areas and then again fired at officers.
Chew was also one of four officers involved in the controversial police shooting of Alex Nieto in Bernal Heights Park on March 21, 2014.
Nieto, who worked as a security guard at a nightclub, was carrying a Taser stun gun at the time of the shooting.
Police, who were responding to a dog walker’s 911 call reporting a man with a gun in the park, said they saw Nieto pointing the device at them and thought it was a real gun.
The shooting triggered ongoing protests that in many ways presaged the strong reaction to the fatal shooting of Mario Woods in the city’s Bayview District in December 2015.
Nieto’s parents sued, but in March a federal civil jury exonerated the four police officers involved, finding that they did not use unconstitutional excessive force.
In the shooting from earlier this month, McWherter fired at officers in a wooded area, prompting Chew and Dominguez to return fire, hitting him four times. The officers fired 21 rounds in the shooting, according to police.
Despite officers’ commands to drop his gun, McWherter allegedly kept it to his chest as he lay on the ground. Police deployed flash-bang devices to distract him and take him into custody.
McWherter, who Acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin described as “mentally disturbed,” was taken to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment, but died of his injuries two days later.
While the Police Department recently deployed body-worn cameras on all officers, Chew and Dominguez were not wearing theirs. Police said they were at the end of their shift and had already turned in their equipment when the incident was called in.
Chew has been on the force for nine years and Dominguez for 10. Both are assigned to the field operations bureau.
Read more criminal justice news on the Crime Ink page in print. Follow us on Twitter: @sfcrimeink