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Lawsuit claims Palo Alto police illegally detained, assaulted man

Resident alleges he was beaten after an illegal detention at mobile home park

A Palo Alto resident is claiming that he was unlawfully detained and then beaten up by police officers near his mobile home, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court.

The resident, Gustavo Alvarez, also alleges in the lawsuit that he was "brutally injured" during the attack and that officers subsequently "mischaracterized and lied about the incident" to conceal their unlawful conduct and to cause him to be prosecuted.

The incident allegedly occurred on Feb. 17, 2018, when Alvarez claims he was stopped in the driveway of his mobile home by police Officer Christopher Conde, who told him that he had observed him driving on a public roadway even though he was known to have a suspended license. Alvarez then allegedly went inside his home, closed the front door and told Conde that "you cannot come into my house."

Conde then allegedly called other officers to respond to the scene. Once they arrived, officers allegedly held Alvarez at gunpoint, kicked in and damaged his front door, entered his home, "ripped" him out of the building and slammed him onto the front hood of his parked vehicle, a Ford Focus, which was in his driveway.

The lawsuit claims the officers then proceeded to search him, his home and his vehicle and, despite his attempt to comply, "repeatedly assaulted and threatened Alvarez throughout the melee." It also alleges that Sgt. Wayne Benitez, the patrol supervisor, punched Alvarez in the back with a closed fist while the latter was face down on the hood of the car and, after Alvarez requested that his father record the interaction, slapped him across the side of his head and face.

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The lawsuit claims that Benitez also slammed Alvarez face down on the hood of the car, causing his head and face to collide with the windshield while yelling statements such as, "So you think you're a tough guy, huh?" and "You're going to be bleeding a whole lot more." Officers then allegedly had the vehicle towed and booked Alvarez in jail. The court ultimately dismissed all criminal charges against Alvarez after a judge ruled that officers lacked proper justification to initiate the detention.

Alvarez' lawsuit names the responding officers along with police Chief Robert Jonsen and the city of Palo Alto as defendants.

The lawsuit states that the incident was recorded on Alvarez's home surveillance cameras, which he had installed "due to prior, repeated and ongoing harassment by the Palo Alto Police Department." Alvarez is also alleging that the officers' conduct was motivated by their "hatred and prejudice of homosexual males."

The lawsuit claims that after officers learned that Alvarez was homosexual, "he was mocked, made fun of and humiliated because of his sexual orientation."

The lawsuit also accuses the department of inadequately training its officers to prevent such behavior and of "deliberate indifference" to the officers' "constitutional violations," which include the unlawful detention.

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This was not Alvarez's first encounter with police. In 2012, he was arrested after he allegedly rappelled into the former JJ&F Market on College Avenue using a satellite-dish cable, and tried to burglarize the market. After the break-in, which triggered the burglar alarm, an officer found Alvarez hiding behind the building.

Alvarez was reportedly an employee at JJ&F who was fired a few months prior to the store break-in after owners noticed forged checks, the market's owner told the Weekly in 2012.

The department declined the comment on the complaint, citing the pending litigation.

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Lawsuit claims Palo Alto police illegally detained, assaulted man

Resident alleges he was beaten after an illegal detention at mobile home park

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, May 2, 2019, 9:57 am

A Palo Alto resident is claiming that he was unlawfully detained and then beaten up by police officers near his mobile home, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court.

The resident, Gustavo Alvarez, also alleges in the lawsuit that he was "brutally injured" during the attack and that officers subsequently "mischaracterized and lied about the incident" to conceal their unlawful conduct and to cause him to be prosecuted.

The incident allegedly occurred on Feb. 17, 2018, when Alvarez claims he was stopped in the driveway of his mobile home by police Officer Christopher Conde, who told him that he had observed him driving on a public roadway even though he was known to have a suspended license. Alvarez then allegedly went inside his home, closed the front door and told Conde that "you cannot come into my house."

Conde then allegedly called other officers to respond to the scene. Once they arrived, officers allegedly held Alvarez at gunpoint, kicked in and damaged his front door, entered his home, "ripped" him out of the building and slammed him onto the front hood of his parked vehicle, a Ford Focus, which was in his driveway.

The lawsuit claims the officers then proceeded to search him, his home and his vehicle and, despite his attempt to comply, "repeatedly assaulted and threatened Alvarez throughout the melee." It also alleges that Sgt. Wayne Benitez, the patrol supervisor, punched Alvarez in the back with a closed fist while the latter was face down on the hood of the car and, after Alvarez requested that his father record the interaction, slapped him across the side of his head and face.

The lawsuit claims that Benitez also slammed Alvarez face down on the hood of the car, causing his head and face to collide with the windshield while yelling statements such as, "So you think you're a tough guy, huh?" and "You're going to be bleeding a whole lot more." Officers then allegedly had the vehicle towed and booked Alvarez in jail. The court ultimately dismissed all criminal charges against Alvarez after a judge ruled that officers lacked proper justification to initiate the detention.

Alvarez' lawsuit names the responding officers along with police Chief Robert Jonsen and the city of Palo Alto as defendants.

The lawsuit states that the incident was recorded on Alvarez's home surveillance cameras, which he had installed "due to prior, repeated and ongoing harassment by the Palo Alto Police Department." Alvarez is also alleging that the officers' conduct was motivated by their "hatred and prejudice of homosexual males."

The lawsuit claims that after officers learned that Alvarez was homosexual, "he was mocked, made fun of and humiliated because of his sexual orientation."

The lawsuit also accuses the department of inadequately training its officers to prevent such behavior and of "deliberate indifference" to the officers' "constitutional violations," which include the unlawful detention.

This was not Alvarez's first encounter with police. In 2012, he was arrested after he allegedly rappelled into the former JJ&F Market on College Avenue using a satellite-dish cable, and tried to burglarize the market. After the break-in, which triggered the burglar alarm, an officer found Alvarez hiding behind the building.

Alvarez was reportedly an employee at JJ&F who was fired a few months prior to the store break-in after owners noticed forged checks, the market's owner told the Weekly in 2012.

The department declined the comment on the complaint, citing the pending litigation.

Comments

Bullies
Midtown
on May 2, 2019 at 12:29 pm
Bullies, Midtown
on May 2, 2019 at 12:29 pm

IT sounds to me like the victim is telling the truth. When police officers get upset, they cannot control themselves. They want to be the ones in charge at any cost. I am glad he is suiting the PAPD. Even if he had a former record, that does not give the officers the right to abuse him both verbally and physically, and they become bullies. I wish him the best luck in the trial.


winner
Barron Park
on May 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm
winner, Barron Park
on May 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm
ChrisC
Registered user
College Terrace
on May 2, 2019 at 12:45 pm
ChrisC, College Terrace
Registered user
on May 2, 2019 at 12:45 pm

I assume the webcam footage will show all. Hopefully The Weekly will follow up on this story.


We Have A Winner!
Adobe-Meadow
on May 2, 2019 at 1:49 pm
We Have A Winner!, Adobe-Meadow
on May 2, 2019 at 1:49 pm

from the PA Weekly account...

"Once they arrived, officers allegedly held Alvarez at gunpoint, kicked in and damaged his front door, entered his home, "ripped" him out of the building and slammed him onto the front hood of his parked vehicle, a Ford Focus, which was in his driveway."

"The court ultimately dismissed all criminal charges against Alvarez after a judge ruled that officers lacked proper justification to initiate the detention."

"The lawsuit claims that after officers learned that Alvarez was homosexual, "he was mocked, made fun of and humiliated because of his sexual orientation."

> Alvarez sounds like a real winner.

He will be a 'winner' in a court of law. This one is going to cost the city some major bucks after he hires a prominent civil rights attorney due to:

(1) Violation of his 4th Amendment rights, (2) a hate crime based on his sexuality, (3) police brutality & unnecessary use of force.

from the PA Weekly account...

"This was not Alvarez's first encounter with police. In 2012, he was arrested after he allegedly rappelled into the former JJ&F Market on College Avenue using a satellite-dish cable, and tried to burglarize the market."

This prior offense will be disregarded by the court as it has nothing to do with what recently happened.

Mr. Alvarez just won the lottery because the PAPD officers on the scene did not exercise self-control.


Realist
University South
on May 2, 2019 at 1:56 pm
Realist, University South
on May 2, 2019 at 1:56 pm
PAPD - Brutality
Midtown
on May 2, 2019 at 2:06 pm
PAPD - Brutality, Midtown
on May 2, 2019 at 2:06 pm

This story sounds credible, and the violence sounds like criminal assault. If the video corroborates his account, and if the police also made false claims leading to the charges made by the DA; the officers involved should be criminally charged. In my opinion, criminal behavior; especially assault and perjury should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Assuming they did commit perjury, this information should be presented to any court wherein they attempt to give testimony, and all cases where they have given testimony should be reviewed.

It will be interesting to see if PAPD will be transparent in the handling of their bad boys in blue.


Laughable
Barron Park
on May 2, 2019 at 2:10 pm
Laughable, Barron Park
on May 2, 2019 at 2:10 pm

“....despite his attempt to comply”

When did he comply? Got caught, ran, hid in home thinking Police could not go after him / pursue while he was in commission of a crime.

Let’s see the body cam and report....a lot of fan fare for this criminal. No sympathy.


We Have A Winner!
Adobe-Meadow
on May 2, 2019 at 2:10 pm
We Have A Winner!, Adobe-Meadow
on May 2, 2019 at 2:10 pm

> It will be interesting to see if PAPD will be transparent in the handling of their bad boys in blue.

Isn't it customary to place officers facing these kinds of accusations on paid administrative leave...in an effort to maintain a low profile?


Bruce W
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm
Bruce W, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on May 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm

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