Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 30, 2012

News Digest

Attempted sexual assault reported in Palo Alto

A man allegedly broke into a home in the 100 block of Hawthorne Avenue in Palo Alto early Thursday morning, Nov. 29, and struggled with the female resident during what may have been an attempt to sexually assault her, Palo Alto police have announced.

The woman called 9-1-1 at about 2:11 a.m., and officers responded within two minutes, police said in a press release. Along with a canine unit from the Mountain View Police Department, officers searched the area but were unable to find the intruder.

The resident, a woman in her 20s, awoke to find the intruder in her bedroom and screamed. The man fled after a brief struggle, according to police. The woman had a bruised wrist but was otherwise unhurt and did not require medical attention, police said.

The man appeared to have entered the home by forcing open the front door, police stated in the press release.

The man was described as having an average build and wearing a hooded dark jacket or sweatshirt and dark pants. The woman could not determine the man's age or race, police said.

Officers are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact the 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to paloalto@tipnow.org or by text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.

Palo Alto prepares for storms, potential outages

The City of Palo Alto Utilities department has organized a 24-hour control center and stand-by crews to help residents weather this week's series of storms in the event of power outages, the department has announced. Even if outages occur on nights or weekends, the department is prepared to respond quickly, Communications Manager Debra Katz said.

The series of "pineapple express" storms heading across the Pacific Ocean are expected to dump considerable amounts of rain in the coming days, according to weather reports.

"Trucks, equipment and materials have been stocked and checked. In the event of a larger scale emergency, every utilities staff person knows we are 'on call' and may need to come in to help out. We all hope that scenario never develops, but if it does, we're ready," Katz said.

The department also has several online sites to help residents:

Up-to-date information if there is a power outage, water or gas main break is available at www.cityofpaloalto.org, search for "outageinfo." For safety tips, search "safeutility" and for winter storm prep tips, search "winter storm tips."

A free "important contact info" magnet, which has key phone numbers for services and website links, is available upon request by emailing christen.creed@cityofpaloalto.org (include your name and mailing address) or by calling 650-329-2479.

The city homepage at www.cityofpaloalto.org has a link to general emergency preparedness information, creek-level monitoring and Palo Alto Neighborhood (PAN) emergency-preparation information.

Report: Taser deployed in Palo Alto arrest

After nearly two years of silence, Palo Alto Police Department Tasers buzzed to life earlier this year with officers deploying the stun guns on two occasions, according to a new report from Independent Police Auditor Michael Gennaco.

The semi-annual report, which covers the first half of 2012, details the first of the two cases and alludes to a second, which Gennaco is currently reviewing. The auditor concluded that in the first case, the Taser deployment was consistent with department policy.

The first case involved a traffic stop in which an officer pulled over a car because its registration sticker had expired, according to the report. The driver allegedly didn't have a license and did not own the car, and the passenger "responded strangely" when asked questions, Gennaco wrote. A backup officer was called in, and as he approached the car, he allegedly noticed the passenger bending forward as if he were hiding something.

The report states that the passenger had "bloodshot eyes, mumbled speech and had a hard time standing still and was sweating." He also had a bulge in his front pocket and gave "erratic answers" to officers' questions, leading them to conclude that he might be under the influence of drugs. The passenger allegedly consented to being patted down by an officer but pulled away. He also tried to pull an unknown object out of his pocket even after being asked by officers not to, the report states. Officers then allegedly grabbed his arms to keep him from taking the unknown object out, Gennaco wrote.

"He slipped from the grasp of the first officer who pulled out his Taser and fired it at the passenger," the report states. "The Taser was effective, and the passenger crumpled to the ground."

After the incident a police sergeant and a lieutenant reviewed the incident and concluded that "Taser use was justified and conformed to PAPD policy."

— Gennady Sheyner

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