Palo Alto police release video of violent arrest at Happy Donuts

Palo Alto police Agent Thomas DeStefano arrests Julio Arevalo on July 10, 2019, outside Happy Donuts on El Camino Real. Photo is from a video police released tonight (June 19).

By the Daily Post staff

Palo Alto police tonight (June 19) released a video of a violent 2019 arrest outside Happy Donuts in which the arrestee suffered broken bones around one eye.

Here’s a link to the video, which was released following a public records request by the Post.

Julio Arevalo, the arrestee, has filed a claim for $3.8 million against the city over what he said was a violent attack by police Agent Thomas DeStefano.

The July 10, 2019 arrest took place outside the door of Happy Donuts at 3916 El Camino Real.

DeStefano believed Arevalo had been involved in a “hand to hand” drug deal, police said. Upon encountering Arevalo, DeStefano suspected Arevalo was under the influence of drugs.

After arresting him and taking him to the police station, officers realized Arevalo’s face was swelling. So officers drove him to the hospital where a doctor determined he had a “fractured orbital socket,” which is when the bones around the eye are broken.

On Jan. 10, the Post filed a California Public Records Act request seeking DeStefano’s body-camera video of the incident, but police refused to release it until today.

Two laws, Assembly Bill 748 and Senate bill 1421, require police to release video in certain use-of-force incidents such as this one within 45 days. It took 161 days for Palo Alto police to comply with the law.

In his $3.8 million claim against the city, which was filed by attorney Cody Salfen of San Jose, Arevalo said that DeStefano included false information in his report about the incident. Arevalo also said in his claim that he was denied proper medical care, though police said he was treated and released by medics at Happy Donuts and was later taken by police to the hospital when his face began to swell during the booking process at the police station.

If the city denies Arevalo’s $3.8 million claim, the statute of limitations gives him until July 10 to sue the city.

Salfen is the same attorney who represented Buena Vista Mobile Home Park resident Gustavo Alvarez, whose head was slammed against a car hood by now-retired Palo Alto police Sgt. Wayne Benitez on Feb. 17, 2018. The city paid $572,500 to settle a suit Salfen brought against the city on behalf of Alvarez. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen is now considering whether to file assault charges against Benitez, who retired while the civil suit was pending.

Related stories

• City paid $250,000 to settle 2013 brutality suit against DeStefano, who has now been accused again (Nov. 30, 2019)

Cops to release alleged beating video (Jan. 20, 2020)

City withholds police arrest video — chief says case still under investigation (March 5, 2020)

City paid $250,000 to settle 2013 brutality suit against DeStefano, who has now been accused again (Nov. 30, 2019)

13 Comments

  1. Despite the other cases, in this instance, the suspect clearly resisted arrest. If he complied with the orders, he never would have received the injury to the orbital socket. In fact he actively resisted going into hand cuffs for about 90 seconds before the offer took him to the ground, where he apparently was injured. Before that he cries like a little child with the blanket over their head hoping to ignore reality. He cries about being hurt when the offer doesn’t even have his hands on him at one point. One the suspects resists going into cuffs, he has started the process that gets him hurt. He continued this process until he is on the ground. After being hurt and placed in cuffs, he continues to resist arrest and kicks the officer repeatedly. He doesn’t deserve any money and he should be convicted of resist arrest and assault.

    • The main problem is law enforcement focusing on street level drug deals. The 80’s are over, it’s time for Law Enforcement to focus on violent crime and stopping the thugs who drive around stealing catalytic converters at 3am. Come on, stop the real criminals.

  2. From what I saw, the arrestee started screaming way before any significant amount of body force was applied to him. Not saying any subsequent injuries didn’t occur.

  3. Thank you to the Post for pursuing this case. It looks like the cops tried to brush it under the rug by dragging their feet on releasing the video. I don’t understand why the City Council tolerates a police department that refuses to release public records. The police are in the “law enforcement” business but pick and choose which laws they obey. Terrible. I’m glad Palo Alto has a newspaper like the Post that digs out stories like this.

  4. I wouldn’t give officer Destefano the “humanitarian of the year award,” but I don’t have a problem with how he handled this arrest. The guy was clearly resisting and not following Destefano’s instructions. I hope the city rejects this guy’s claim and countersues him for the cost of defending his claim.

  5. I imagine Arevalo knows where the security camera is located at Happy Donuts. I wonder whether he was playing to the camera, screaming before he was hit, yelling to an audience, in an attempt to set-up DeStefano? This video looks too phony to me. LIke he was acting hoping for a 3 million dollar paycheck.

  6. There are no criminal charges against Arevalo. He had no drugs. There was no evidence he was doing anything with drugs.
    Just because a police officer thinks or says alleges something, that doesn’t mean it’s real.
    Arevalo was let go after he was briefly knocked out, concussed, and face bones shattered because he had committed no crime.
    If I had a cop start to do this to me, I would be telling him to leave me alone and asking what he thought he was doing and why. Wouldn’t you?l

  7. The video shows Arevalo didn’t follow the police officer’s commands, he resisted arrest and he got hurt because he was fighting with the officer. I don’t care who you think you are, if a police officer gives you an instruction, you do it. You can argue about it later. Arevalo isn’t entitled to a cent. Next case.

  8. It’s ridiculous how people sue the police over nothing these days. You can see in the video Arevalo was making a scene way before the officer used any force on him, which was totally justified because he was resisting. Palo Alto should completely reject this bogus lawsuit.

  9. All of you who have said the officer, DeStefano, was not using any force prior to Arevalo being thrown to the ground don’t know what you are talking about. DeStefano has twice the mass as Arevalo and is crushing Arevalo against the railing while simultaneously applying a painful wrist lock. All charges including resisting arrest and battery on the officer were dropped. Slamming Arevalo to the ground like a rag doll is excessive force even if the arrest was legitimate.

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