Police use Taser on mirror-breaking youth | July 20, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 20, 2012

Police use Taser on mirror-breaking youth

Back-up officers, called to Mitchell Park in case of riot, not needed, Palo Alto police say

by Gennady Sheyner and Sue Dremann

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 last Friday, July 13.

Police received a call at 4:15 p.m. regarding the 17-year-old youth, who was allegedly breaking the side-view mirrors off vehicles at Mitchell Park. Police Lt. Dave Flohr said a security guard had called the police.

Police found the youth mingling with a group of people at a musical event at the 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. Emergency medical personnel were staged at a distance, as police initially considered the situation dangerous, according to dispatch reports.

However, Flohr said, the crowd remained peaceful, and officers left within a short time.

The youth was taken to a local hospital, where he was checked and cleared, Flohr said. He was subsequently taken to the police station and charged with battery on an officer, felony vandalism, resisting arrest and being drunk in public.

The incident was the first instance in two years since Palo Alto police have used the electroshocking Taser. The 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 department revised its Taser policy, specifying 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. Each Taser instance is reviewed by the department's independent auditor, Michael Gennaco, who provides the City Council with twice-yearly reports. The next report, covering February through July, is expected in the fall.


Posted by Ralph, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 13, 2012 at 7:27 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Big Al, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2012 at 7:36 pm

A riot? A riot led by one, bo doubt. Perhpaps the should have brought in the air force and an elite seal squad just for safe measure.

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 13, 2012 at 11:56 pm

"Youth" indeed! Little monstrous jerk is more like it. I hope the injured officer is okay.

Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 14, 2012 at 12:09 am

Sounds like they were referring to the "large crowd" that gathered following the arrest. So no, I don't think it was a riot of one, and I'm glad they took the precaution of calling in greater numbers. The crowd's response may have led to the request for additional officers. Better that approach than waiting for things to get completely out of hand and possibly getting someone hurt.

Posted by Two cents, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 14, 2012 at 12:52 am

Just goes to show you that PA isn't Mayberry. Thugs and wannabes come from all over to act a fool in Palo Alto.

Posted by Think about it.., a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 14, 2012 at 2:45 am

Happy Friday the 13th

Posted by Kb, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2012 at 3:25 am

Drove by on Meadow at about 4:45. There were at least twelve squad cars and motorcycles there with lights flashing plus one ambulance, including several from Mt View. I was worried that it was something much worse. Glad to hear it was relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2012 at 4:39 am

Maybe kid damaging cars "just" wanted to follow Palo Alto High tradition?
In no way I'm justifying any type of vandalism. Palo Alto High principal was criticized then, for having vanalisers bear minor consequences. I'm just wondering, hypothetically, of course, what would have happened then, if Gunn's new track was damaged by Tongan/Hispanic/African American group tradition?

Posted by Malph, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2012 at 4:43 am

OOoo Ralph, you're sooo big and strong.

Posted by Dr Leavingsune, a resident of Professorville
on Jul 14, 2012 at 4:47 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 14, 2012 at 5:16 am

If those last half dozen time tags are accurate, there's a lot of people up late.

Posted by Rooster, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 14, 2012 at 5:23 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by rob, a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2012 at 6:53 am

I was in the playground area with my two kids when this all went down yesterday. Having grown up in Palo Alto in the 80's, I'm convinced the bay area and California is turning 3rd world. There is only the wealthy (yes, you Palo Alto) and the welfare state underclass (which flooded Mitchell park yesterday, on a weekday afternoon no less). The middle class is gone. There is no gap or bridge between the lower and mid classes. No one to hold out a hand and educate, nor is there any incentive to try and get ahead on their own. The middle class is already abandoning the lower in public schools, and Palo Alto will abandon the middle class in their schools, via hyped up property values.

Palo Alto is going to see this type of behavior prevailing indefinitely. I don't see any type of band aid fix. Nor do I see anyone caring about the two prevelent California classes upon abandoning the state.

Posted by A-Riot-Of-One, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2012 at 7:33 am

> Police Lt. Dave Flohr said a security guard at Mitchell Park saw
> the male youth breaking mirrors off three cars and called the police.

Interesting. Is this security guard employed by the City of Palo Alto? How long has this been going on? Which department is paying his salary, and why does the City feel it needs this sort of protection in Mitchell Park? Is this the only park with a guard, or are there others? Have there been incidents that pushed the City to see a need for extra security? What about surveillance cameras?

What's going on here?

The response to this "incident" seems fairly heavy-handed. Did this security guard also advise the police that there was a significant crowd that might turn violent? There is more going on here than this article is letting on.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2012 at 7:38 am

If the teen was 17 and intoxicated, do his parents get arrested also?

Was he a Palo Alto resident? Does he attend Palo Alto schools? Was alcohol served at the music event? Did the music event have the necessary permits?

Do his parents have to make right the damage to the cars?

Posted by A-Riot-Of-One, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2012 at 8:14 am

The people whose cars were damaged should be able to demand payment from this "teenager", and/or his parents. However, since he is not 18, will the police withhold his identity, meaning that the car owners will have to pay for the damage this person did themselves?

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

My guess is that the security guard is employed by the construction company working on the new library and not by the city. The police response doesn't seem to be heavy handed and all but just right. This punk was vandalizing cars and turned violent against an officer who tired to stop him. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm

To A-Riot of One, the police will indeed withhold the defendant's name to the media. However, during the proceedings within the juvenile court system his identity will be revealed. Convicted juveniles might have to pay restitution to their victims, so their exposure in this sense is the same as an adult.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Musical & Daniel - thanks for the laugh in an otherwise dreary story. I thought her comment & Ralph's were a tad over the top. He damaged property, not civilians. As for hurting a cop, that goes w/the territory & he'll pay for his stupidity. How sad, all around.

I had a roomie who went whacko when drunk one night in Palo Alto. We had to call the po po on him. He got violent w/them & wrestled them all over the yard. I think he bit one, too. He was a totally wholesome looking handsome Stanford grad I'd considered setting up w/a friend of mine. There went that plan! After all of this went down, he became a nanny in College Terrace.

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm

@ daniel:

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Regardless of your rhetoric, it is obvious that some people need to be "shocked" into reality. I have known individuals who were under the influence and they didn't resort to acts of violence or vandalism. They didn't punch cops.

Hopefully, this punk was shocked into reality enough that he won't resort to crime in the future.

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm

BTW, daniel:

I don't want the guy to go to prison for 25 years. However, I would like to see this idiot spend a day in jail for every vehicle that he damaged (with his stay paid for by himself/his guardians)...fines to cover 100% of court costs...and 133% restitution to the owners of all of these vehicles to cover the cost of repairs and the inconvenience that it caused them.

This is simply asking for justice for the victims and dispensing a little rough justice on behalf of society. Hopefully, it would teach the man to stop acting like a fool and punching cops or defacing private property.

Posted by Anon, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm

TPARS... Glad I left long ago..

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 15, 2012 at 10:13 am

Thank you, PA Online staff, for encouraging us to keep the comments clean and respectable. These are much higher class discussions than I see elsewhere. Still an unanswered question as to who the security guard worked for -- I read another account saying the security was actually hired by the organization sponsoring the concert, like they had some previous experience. Kudos to them for acting responsibly. PS: this story goes into the large file of incidents I bring out every time people discuss opening Foothills Park to non-residents.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 15, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Musical - From my recollection, PA residents have habitually caused problems at Foothills Park - you don't need all of us for that. Of course, one of the big differences there is that it's a particular environmental habitat & restricting access makes a big difference in that case. People cause problems at parks everywhere. Non-residents visiting other city parks also don't cause problems - it just depends on that individual. It's disgusting that people in a public place comport themselves so poorly, rather than having a spark of stewardship & consideration toward others.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Agreed. Jerks come in many flavors and from every background. This Mitchell Park case appeared to be alcohol related. I've always wondered whether alcohol really brings out the worst in people, or just reveals their true nature. Fortunately my few acquaintances who drink to excess just tend to get happy and mellow rather than obnoxious. And fortunately I've seen very few altercations at closing time in downtown Palo Alto, though I do know they occur.

Posted by Cynthia, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

Replying to ROB'S comments:

This was certainly NOT a case of upper-lower-middle class warfare, only a case of a jerk disobeying the law.

Where does your analogy stem from anyway? Are you saying he should not been restrained from damaging people's cars?

Class and money have nothing to do it here. Like everyone else, if he wants to live here - Palo Alto or East Palo Alto - he has to follow the law.

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2012 at 11:22 am

@ Cynthia:

Good points.

As I wrote in my first comment on this matter (which was removed for some reason), I hope that this Tazer incident serves some good and "shocks" this young man back into law-abiding reality.

I don't care who you are or where you are from, but it is not acceptable behavior for a person to vandalize someone else's vehicle and then strike the police officer who is apprehending him. Inebriation from alcohol, background, and economic status cannot be used as an excuse for such behavior.

Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 16, 2012 at 11:31 am

The headline on this story seems to be a bit short-sighted to say the least. It simply reads "Police Use Taser on Mirror Breaking Youth". As if to suggest seemingly that the only reason he was tased was because he had been breaking mirrors. The bigger picture here was that he was combative and assaulted an officer apparently. I have to believe that's what led to him being tased.

Posted by cynthia, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Agree with Nayeli and Marol, 100%.

Why must our journalism be so "politically sensitive" that reporters dance around what really happened? Yes, of course they wouldn't have sent 20 officers to a scene for just a few mirrors.

In fact, I was at Mitchell Park for a picnic right when it all happened and was truly shocked about how many officers were summoned. No less than 20, and I am probably underestimating.

Today's reporters are afraid to write too many details, for fear of being accused of racial profiling, I will assume. Sadly for us readers, it means we usually get just part of the story.

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

There are MANY cases where a TAZER causes death. Having the Medical People close by was a proper response. The real issue is that PDs across the nation THINK THAT A TAZER IS NON-LETHAL WAY to get compliance to an officer!

The fact is that, like the service revolver ( or gun these days ), a TAZER should be considered a LETHAL WEAPON if it is removed from the holster. That "use" should require the same amount of justification as you would any other lethal weapon.

This story would have had a different take if the EMTs had to do CPR or a coroner had to be called.

TAZERS are not toys and PDs should treat them properly.

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm

@ the_punnisher:

If a Tazer can cause death, then I hope that suspects won't swing at the police who carry them.


Seriously, most police officers are very careful about using a taser. Yes, in some circumstances, they can cause lethal injury to individuals with certain medical conditions. However, this is the exception and not the rule.

Of course, I don't think that cops are using tasers on individuals who aren't a threat or those who are listening to officers instructions. Like this young man, they are tased because their actions call for it.

Of course, you can contact the PAPD and find out what their policies regarding Taser use might entail.

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