BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Palo Alto City Council met in closed session last night (June 17) to discuss a lawsuit filed by a man who claims that five police officers kicked down his door at the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, beat him to the point where he lost a tooth and mocked him for being gay.
Mayor Eric Filseth announced at the beginning of last night’s open meeting that there was nothing to report to the public regarding the lawsuit.
Gustavo Alvarez, 38, alleges in the lawsuit that on Feb. 17, 2018, police Officer Christopher Conde approached Alvarez while he was standing in the driveway of his mobile home and told him that he had seen him driving while his license was suspended, which Alvarez disputes.
Conde then called for backup and was joined by Sgt. Wayne Benitez, Agent Thomas Alan DeStefano Jr. and officers Thomas Hubbard and “Johnson” — the suit doesn’t identify the last officer’s first name.
Police then allegedly slammed Alvarez onto the front hood and windshield of his 2002 Ford Focus, and threatened and assaulted him as they searched his person, home and car.
Allegedly punched in back
Alvarez claims that Benitez, 61, punched him in the back while he was face down on the hood of his car, slapped him on the side of the face and yelled at him to shut up.
Benitez is also accused of going into a “fit of rage” and grabbing the handcuffed Alvarez before slamming his face and body onto the hood of his car while asking, “So you think you’re a tough guy, huh?”
This allegedly knocked Alvarez’s tooth loose, which he said he later pulled out in jail because he was afraid to ask for medical care. When he complained that he was bleeding, Benitez allegedly yelled, “You’re gonna be bleeding a whole lot more.”
The suit states that officers mocked and humiliated him for being gay while he was in their custody. Alvarez was booked into Santa Clara County Jail that night on suspicion of DUI, driving while his license was suspended or revoked for DUI, resisting arrest and possessing both drug paraphernalia and lost property. Charges from that night were dismissed.
Seven felony complaints and 11 misdemeanor complaints have been filed against Alvarez in Santa Clara County Superior Court in the last 20 years.
In July 2012, Alvarez was arrested for allegedly breaking the skylight at JJ&F Market at 520 College Ave. and rappelling into the store using a black satellite dish cable as a rope.
In this case, Alvarez is represented by two San Jose lawyers, Cody Salfen of the Salfen Law Firm and Samuel Gordon of the Gordon Law Group.