Video shows police forcefully arresting Palo Alto man outside his home. Now the incident's under investigation. | Town Square | Palo Alto Online |
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Video shows police forcefully arresting Palo Alto man outside his home. Now the incident's under investigation.

Original post made on Jul 24, 2019

Surveillance footage showing Palo Alto police officers arresting, mocking and slamming a resident of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park against a car windshield has fueled allegations that officers acted illegally and used excessive force.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 24, 2019, 12:01 AM

Comments (27)

62 people like this
Posted by Jazmine
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2019 at 3:03 am

Police brutality is alive and real on the Peninsula !
Thanks for exposing the real low life that hide behind a badge and tax payers money !

26 people like this
Posted by fairness
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2019 at 6:07 am

Lede should be changed from

Officers broke man's front door, slammed him against his car and arrested him for allegedly driving with suspended license


Officers allegedly broke man's front door, allegedly slammed him against his car and allegedly arrested him for driving with suspended license

71 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2019 at 6:19 am

Drives without a license, disobeys lawful orders, resists arrest.

Yeah, poor guy. We all do that (not).

62 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 6:42 am

The War on Police is getting so old.
If some of you sanctimonious Palo Alto folks saw any fellow who resembles this Alvarez guy snooping around in your backyard, you would call 911.
But its much easier to virtue signal when you're ensconced downtown comfortably away from Buena Vista or when there's a broad freeway conveniently dividing us from EPA.
If you lived in the trailer park I guarantee you'll be watching your back.
Police can't be perfect, but who do you call when you're in trouble?


44 people like this
Posted by Winter Dellenbach
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 8:05 am

The undertones in the above comment is disturbing.
I live 2 blocks from Buena Vista and my life is better for it. I have many friends there as do others in our neighborhood. The notion that people living at BV are different than the people living next door to them or in other places in our town is absurd. They are as fine and as flawed as any other Palo Altan.

Also disturbing is this incident and the treatment of Alvarez.

19 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2019 at 8:37 am

I'm confused about what happened. Did the officer have any way of knowing that this guy was driving on a suspended license? Was the driver known to police or was the police officer able to run his license plate through some system as he was trailing the vehicle? Maybe the registration sticker was expired? Or was it just a complete guess/assumption?

The driver, if he was truly innocent, should have taken out his license to show that it was valid. Reading this makes me think that the driver had something to hide. I could see both sides and why he would go back in to the house but if it were me I would try to cooperate with the police.

64 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 8:44 am

BV is a blight for the town. The city should have never spent our tax money on it. It's still a a money pit sucking up resources.

Why don't people understand the basic concept that if the police are trying to pull you over, don't do stupid sh*t. I am a person of color and running/resisting is a surefire way to get hurt or killed. The police have no clue what they're dealing with so they will be on edge and high alert.

42 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 24, 2019 at 9:15 am

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Video is everywhere. Security cams, dash cams, iPhones, etc. If everyone would conduct themselves like their actions are being captured by video these type of situations would never happen.

This one will eventually cost the city some big bucks and may cause the firing of one or more officers.

37 people like this
Posted by Oh Great
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 24, 2019 at 9:47 am

Good cops don't do this and good cops, and the people who support our good cops, do not stand by while the bad cops act this way. He let his ego get the best of him. 100% unprofessional. Bad police work that I'm afraid only fuels the flames of those who blindly hate on all cops.

Everyone makes mistake so he needs to own it then resign. He needs to be out of Palo Alto, take some training and try again somewhere else where he might not be such a liability.
This will, without a doubt, cost the city a ton of money; no going back on that.

53 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2019 at 10:33 am

"Apparently", the suspect, Gustavo Alvarez, broke the law by driving with a suspended license. Gustavo Alvarez was known to the police already and has a criminal record. Unfortunately, by clearly becoming angry and treating the suspect very roughly, the police overreaction injured the now-victim unnecessarily and cost the city both money and goodwill.

Job 1 for the police is keeping their cool. I continue to be surprised that police training and hiring procedures don't weed out people who don't keep their cool. -Before- incidents like this happen. I understand that the officers wanted to assert their authority and demonstrate that they can pursue criminals after a law is broken, but, for some reason, in this case it "became personal". That shouldn't happen, regardless of whether or not the suspect is acting like a jerk.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown

>> The War on Police is getting so old.

Here's what you are missing: Every single officer is armed and has the power of life and death over a suspect. There is no "war on police": every single officer has to be able to handle these situations correctly every single time. Yes it is a tough job, but, -that's the job-. We don't need police who can't control themselves. It is not for everybody. Police who can't handle it need to find another line of work.

21 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 24, 2019 at 10:33 am

Any insight into the SJ Mercury News' recent article claiming the city rejected the public records request for this video back in May?

Web Link

"In early May, the city of Palo Alto rejected public records requests from this news organization to obtain body cam and dashcam footage of the incident, citing a provision in California law that protects an individual’s right to privacy. Alvarez’s attorneys, however, released copies of the surveillance video and audio recorded by the officers to this news organization on Tuesday. The city had been previously provided with a copy of the footage, according to the attorneys."

20 people like this
Posted by Linda
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:04 am

This is so wrong. If you listen to the first officer when asked did you see me driving he said no? If you didn't see him driving the car what are you doing. Second, there should have been a Spanish speaking officer called. All of these officers were out of pocket.

32 people like this
Posted by Parent of student of color
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:19 am

Parent of student of color is a registered user.

Bottom line, when the police officer was asked did you see driving, he said no, but he just knew.
How many people are in jail today because a police officer just knew. No one is above the law.
Yes, there are good police officers out there and should be supported but the ones in the video need to be fired. The good thing is people of color in Palo Alto around can see the faces of these folks and should be mindful of who they are.
As a person of color, I have always felt safe living in Palo Alto except when it comes to my children especially boys except where the Police are concerned.

6 people like this
Posted by dejiii
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:34 am

dejiii is a registered user.

First over reaction by the police. Sadly they deal with idiots all the time and I am sure frustration is a major part of the job. Now a vet policeman will probably be fired because of a man who has been nothing but a legal problem past 10yrs. Not to mention he and his lawyer will make money on the backs of our hard work and taxes to Palo Alto.
I think one of the problems is cost to jail people overnight. Otherwise why say anything, check him out, find out he driving on suspension for what the 3rd time. Endangering so many with his disrespect of rules and laws. And throw his axx in jail for a few days.... Should be cut and dry. But alas seems hesitation on the part of police. Maybe it is their time involved in jailing someone as well.

28 people like this
Posted by W. Reller
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 12:07 pm

W. Reller is a registered user.

Seems to me the officers acted quite professionally

34 people like this
Posted by Pied Piper
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 24, 2019 at 12:22 pm

Pied Piper is a registered user.

When the police don't follow the law, scoundrels walk free and are enriched since they can sue for damages. The net result is a town less safe -- and poorer.

Posted by bton
a resident of Downtown North

on Jul 24, 2019 at 12:26 pm

bton is a registered user.

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

22 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:15 pm

Crescent Park Mom is a registered user.

Alvarez had to be driving! There was another person sitting in the passenger seat with his seat belt still on!

19 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2019 at 6:56 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I think the video shows that the actions of Wayne Benitez and our other public safety officers were reasonable in context to what we are asking them to do 24-7, 365.
Thank you for your service.
(I don’t know DeStefano but assume he is either the brother or nephew of my former basketball coach).
Do the people who (mostly anonymously) criticize them here want to train to suit up and protect the rest of us, and put their lives on the line? If so, thank you in advance, too.

10 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2019 at 7:05 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Another way to say this: I’ve never worked in public safety but I presume pursuing a suspect into his own home is different than ringing doorbells on behalf of a library bond initiative.

34 people like this
Posted by Excessive Force
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 25, 2019 at 8:41 am

Excessive Force is a registered user.

The reason the city is getting sued is because after the suspect was cuffed and not a threat to the officers safety, officer Benitez slammed his head on the windshield hurting him and then threatened him with further violence while he was restrained and within the care of the police. This behavior was unnecessary, unconstitional, prevented convicting the suspect of resisting arrest and has resulted in an expensive lawsuit. If the suspect receives a payout, which he likely will, then its the opposite of effective deterrence.

4 people like this
Posted by frustrated mom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 26, 2019 at 9:43 pm

frustrated mom is a registered user.

Obviously the officers did not respect and the owners of the house the suspect's constitutional rights, they have forgotten the oath they took when they become police officers. I am glad the family were able to record the incidents. I am not surprised of the way the officers behaved. This goes on everyday people of color, and low income are treated like this. The officers do not respect our rights, we have to kiss their a.. otherwise we can become criminals in no time, and they somehow find ways to charge us with something. I have seen them how they treat white and rich people and believe me there is a big difference. Just a reminder that it is our constitutional right to record public servants even though some of them do not want us to because we might gather evidence that can be used against them. Keep recording the police, so the truth is exposed.

10 people like this
Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 27, 2019 at 11:34 am

iSez is a registered user.

It's getting too tough to be a police officer. The public seems to be giving felons and criminals more rights than law enforcement. Police officers walk into every situation knowing that they can be killed, it's high stress and they do the best they can and do have emotions like the rest of us. They are not Robocops who are invincible. They have to make split second decisions. Sure, it's easy to be a Monday Morning Quarterback when you view the video several times. You haters have no empathy for the people who want to keep us safe. The same people who bash the police hide behind the alias of a computer but will call them for help when they are mugged or hear a prowler. Those who hate police should have no right to call the cops in their time of need.

17 people like this
Posted by Concerned In Palo Alto
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2019 at 2:22 pm

Concerned In Palo Alto is a registered user.

PAPD probably should have exercised restraint in this matter by avoiding the reported roughness & verbal threats.

Now a costly lawsuit will ensue & Mr. Alvarez can afford to leave BV for a better place to live.

Arrest for a suspended CDL did not warrant this kind of police action.

Law enforcement must use better discretion in their handling of certain types of cases.

16 people like this
Posted by twaite
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 27, 2019 at 9:50 pm

twaite is a registered user.

If police officers would subject themselves to the Rule of Law than this entire episode would be a non event just like the thousands of people who text and drive everyday in Palo Alto which is just as illegal as driving on a suspended license. Officer Conde violated the 4th-mendment of the U.S. Constitution and did so knowingly because of his prejudice for Alvarez.

How many of you text and drive and are not held accountable because the police are limited in how they detain and search citizens? If you do text and drive than you should shut up.

Contrary to Mark Weiss these officers deserve absolutely zero empathy for they did not attack some inferior human being who does not deserve equal protection of the law, they attacked the United States Constitution and the freedoms of every American Citizen when they knowingly lied about the circumstances for the stop and then used excessive force unnecessarily. If you believe that these officers are justified in the actions of what they did to this citizen than you believe that police officers are justified in doing the same to you when you have done absolutely nothing illegal like just like what they did to Michael Morten: Web Link

“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”
― D.H. Lawrence

[Portion removed.]

Men fight for freedom, then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves. ~unknown

2 people like this
Posted by frustrated mom
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 28, 2019 at 10:41 pm

frustrated mom is a registered user.

Here is a video of Menlo Park treating a bicyclist as if he was a criminal just for a traffic stop. Do not forget to record the police is the only way to expose the rotten apples.
Web Link

Here is another one that exposes the behavior of EPA police officers

Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2019 at 7:51 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

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