Palo Alto City to Pay Over $500k in Police Misconduct Settlement

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NBC Bay Area

The city of Palo Alto on Monday agreed to pay over a half-million dollars to a man who sued the city this year after he said Palo Alto police unlawfully detained and assaulted him outside his mobile home in 2018.

According to the city, the Palo Alto Police Department denies multiple claims by Gustavo Alvarez, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, alleging police had unlawfully arrested him after he was "detained, beaten, assaulted, battered, injured, searched, threatened, denied medical care" outside his mobile home in Palo Alto on Feb. 17, 2018.

Alvarez asserts in the lawsuit that police had repeatedly harassed him prior to the altercation, prompting him to install surveillance cameras at his home.

The suit, filed this past April, names the city and multiple Palo Alto police officers as defendants.

The city on Monday agreed to issue a $572,500 settlement payment to Alvarez and his attorneys, as well as a public apology to Alvarez from former Palo Alto police Sgt. Wayne Benitez, who allegedly assaulted Alvarez during the altercation.

Alvarez said he bled from the mouth after his tooth was knocked loose during the arrest. He also said Benitez slapped him and spat verbal degradations at him while slamming him handcuffed against the hood of his car, which he says they also damaged during the altercation.

Alvarez alleged his rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure and use of excessive force, and his right to freedom of speech, were violated in the altercation.

"While the City and Police Department sharply dispute the vast majority of Mr. Alvarez's claims and have deep concerns about Mr. Alvarez's continuing criminal behavior, the City believes that this resolution is in the best interests of all involved -- including the Police Department, its police officers, and Mr. Alvarez," city officials said in a statement.

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