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Palo Alto settles claim for home damaged by police

Damages occured during March 23 standoff with suspected burglar

When a SWAT team entered Gladys Leu's Palo Alto home on March 23, they were looking for a burglar. They got their man, but they also apparently damaged Leu's home while trying to apprehend the suspect, Julian Baldes Alvarado.

Now the City of Palo Alto has settled a claim with Leu, 92, for $2,316.13, according to City Attorney Molly Stump.

Palo Alto police received a call on March 23 reporting a suspicious person in the rear yard of a home on the 900 block of Oregon Avenue. When officers arrived to the scene, the man, later identified as 26-year-old Alvarado of San Jose, allegedly began jumping over fences to escape while police set up a perimeter in the area.

Alvarado entered Leu's home on the 900 block of Elsinore Drive where he encountered a woman in her 40s, who was working at the residence as a caretaker for Leu, who was asleep in a bedroom.

The caretaker was able to escape and met with officers who had surrounded the house. Officers yelled into the house in an effort to get Alvarado to surrender, police said. The commotion caused Leu to wake up and she was able to get out of the house, according to police.

After a standoff that lasted hours, the Palo Alto Police Department's SWAT team and a police K-9 entered the home. The dog found Alvarado hiding on top of a water heater inside a closet in the garage, police said. When Alvarado refused commands by officers to come down, the police K-9 bit him on the leg and helped officers arrest him.

Leu, through her daughter, Deborah Anderson, filed a claim against the city on April 25 for damages to the home. The repairs included replacing the screens of a bathroom window, sliding-glass door and a broken lock on the door, repairing the jamb on the side door to the garage, replacing PVC door trim on the side door to the garage and replacing the garage side door, painting the door and jamb, replacing the water heater and hauling away the debris. The water heater was the most expensive item at $750, according to a repair bill submitted with the claim.

Janet Billups, city claims investigator, sent Anderson a settlement letter dated June 10 for the total sum, which was to be paid within 10 days after Leu filled out some documents and a release form.

Stump said that whenever it is necessary for officers to damage property during a police action, the city pays the bill. But the city plans to recoup the payment from Alvarado during the criminal court case against him.

Alvarado was found in possession of a bicycle and a backpack containing miscellaneous personal property that had been stolen on March 23 from outside an apartment complex on the 400 block of West Charleston Road, police said.

Police also recovered stolen property from homes on the 900 block of Oregon Avenue. Alvarado was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for one count of misdemeanor aggravated trespassing, one count of misdemeanor resisting arrest, one count of misdemeanor prowling, and one count of misdemeanor possession of stolen property and petty theft, according to police.

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Comments

12 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 25, 2015 at 11:01 am

Wow! I believe they sued the wrong people. While I am horrified at the "Oops law" where police agencies don't have to pay for the destruction of a home they damaged based on incorrect information, in this case, they had the correct location, the suspect was on the property.

The person they should have sued is the POS burglar. NOT the cops. So much for gratitude.

And yes, I HAVE gone after a guy who had a long rap sheet for destroying my property, and I prevailed. Took two years, but every cent was paid back.


14 people like this
Posted by Jim Bettinger
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 25, 2015 at 11:12 am

I believe that the city requires that a claim be filed as a way of processing this, just as one files a claim with an insurance company. There's no indication in this story that a lawsuit was filed.


20 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2015 at 11:45 am

Another article meant to inflame rather than explain.

>> Stump said that whenever it is necessary for officers to damage property during a police action, the city pays the bill. But the city plans to recoup the payment from Alvarado during the criminal court case against him.

It's only this statement that makes it clear the victim filed a claim WITH the City, not so much AGAINST the City.


9 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

The PAPD should, in turn, sue this vile burglar. Unfortunately, this disgusting man probably has no money. Still, community property laws exists in California. It would be great if half of his household belongings could be taken.


8 people like this
Posted by Grateful citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Just wanted to send a shout out to our great K-9 officer. Thanks for protecting us! (Loved that description of apprehending the perp!)


7 people like this
Posted by Penny
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 25, 2015 at 5:38 pm

[Portion removed.]

Thank you, PAPD, for the good work you do for all of us every day. Most of us understand that you risk your lives when you do this kind of work, and we are grateful that you do what's necessary to keep our homes and community safe.


18 people like this
Posted by Ventura OG
a resident of Ventura
on Jun 25, 2015 at 6:06 pm

People really should read the article. No one is suing anybody. A claim was filed and settled which is standard operating procedure in this type of case where property is damaged.

"Stump said that whenever it is necessary for officers to damage property during a police action, the city pays the bill. But the city plans to recoup the payment from Alvarado during the criminal court case against him."


5 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Triple El
on Jun 26, 2015 at 11:28 am

I am glad as anyone that this ended the way it did. Maybe it was just the City's individual decision to pay the claim, although, I still believe, that unless the damage was considered unreasonably excessive under the circumstances by the police and/or the claims investigator, that neither the city or the police department should be liable for damages involving either a hostage rescue, which, thankfully, was avoided, or apprehending a non-compliant suspect from a residence. I thought, overall, the response couldn't have been better. Good luck recouping it from the likely indigent suspect. This certainly was not a case of the "oops law", so I would hope there is no state law requiring municipalities to just pay regardless. That would set a terrible precedent for abuse. If she has homeowners insurance, I would think that the city could try to recoup it from them.


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 26, 2015 at 1:22 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


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