A teen who police said punched a police officer and destroyed side-view mirrors on at least three cars was stunned with a Taser and arrested at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto late Friday afternoon.
Police received a call at 4:15 p.m. regarding the youth, who was allegedly breaking the side-view mirrors off vehicles parked in Mitchell Park, along a curb adjacent to Covenant Presbyterian Church at 670 East Meadow Dr. Police Lt. Dave Flohr said a security guard at Mitchell Park saw the male youth breaking mirrors off three cars and called the police.
Police found the 17-year-old youth mingling with a group of people at a musical event that was taking place at Mitchell Park, a concert put together by various Tongan churches from the area.
When police approached, the youth punched an officer on the side of the head, Flohr said. The officer took the youth to the ground and, after deploying a Taser, took him into custody.
A large crowd gathered during the altercation, and officers requested more squad cars as a precautionary measure. However, Flohr said, the crowd remained peaceful, and officers left within a short time.
Emergency medical personnel were staged at a distance, as police initially considered the situation dangerous, according to dispatch reports. A medical team was sent to the police station on Forest Avenue in Downtown Palo Alto to evaluate the youth when he was taken to the station.
Flohr said the youth was taken to a local hospital, where he was cleared. He was subsequently taken to the police station and charged with battery on an officer, felony vandalism, resisting arrest and being drunk in public.
According to a preliminary report, the damaged cars included a green BMW, a gold Ford Expedition and a white Chevy van. Officers were also investigating late Friday if additional vehicles were damaged.
The Friday incident was a rare instance in which police deployed a Taser to contain a suspect. The police department began using Tasers in 2007 and was involved in several high-profile instances, including a 2008 case in which a man was stunned after police allegedly lured him from his van. The city ended up paying a $35,000 settlement.
In 2010, the Palo Alto Police Department revised its Taser policy, specifying that the weapon can only be fired when a suspect poses an "immediate threat of physical injury."
The last time a police officer fired a Taser was in mid-2010. The department's independent auditor, Michael Gennaco, wrote in a report earlier this year that there had been no Taser incidents involving Palo Alto officers during the reporting period of August 2011 to January, the third consecutive period during which there had been no Taser deployments.