Cities settle suit over police dog attack

A frame grab from a video Mountain View police released of a June 25, 2020, dog attack of an innocent man in his own backyard.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The cities of Palo Alto and Mountain View have settled a lawsuit with Joel Alejo, who was attacked by a police dog at an officer’s command while he was sleeping in his backyard.

The settlement was reached on Friday, federal court records show, but the terms weren’t immediately available.

Alejo was attacked around 2:30 a.m. on June 25, 2020, but police didn’t tell the public about what happened. In January, the Daily Post used the California Public Records Act to get a copy of Alejo’s claim seeking $20 million.

Alejo was sleeping in his backyard on the 1800 block of Elsie Ave. in Mountain View while police were searching for a kidnapper. Mountain View police asked for Palo Alto police to bring a dog to help.

Officers entered Alejo’s property through the side gate, and Agent Nick Enberg’s dog came across Alejo sleeping. Enberg ordered the dog in Czechoslovakian to bite — “dirsh” —and he repeated the command over 30 times while Alejo yelled and tried to get the dog off of him.

Alejo turned out not to be the person that police were looking for. He was taken to the hospital with gashes on his leg.

The police released the body-cam video in March again at the request of the Daily Post.

Members of the public expressed outrage to the Palo Alto City Council. They called on the police department to fire Enberg and be more transparent.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen said he wouldn’t file charges against Enberg.

Alejo sued both cites, arguing that police “engaged in the vicious conduct maliciously, willfully and oppressively” with the intent to harm him.

Last month a judge ordered the parties to discuss a settlement. Lawyers met for nearly four hours on Friday and reached a deal, according to court records.

Lawsuits the city of Palo Alto has settled alleging police misconduct

June 2020 — City of Palo Alto paid $75,000 to Mahmoud Elsayed who was wrongfully arrested for vandalism. The district attorney dropped the vandalism charge and Elsayed passed a lie-detector test. Elsayed claimed officers engaged in racial profiling and Islamaphobia.

November 2019 — City of Palo Alto paid $572,500 to Buena Vista Mobile Home Park resident Gustavo Alvarez, who was beaten by then Palo Alto Sgt. Wayne Benitez in an incident caught on video. Benitez is now awaiting trial on misdemeanor charges.

April 2018City of Palo Alto paid $250,000 to Tajae Murray, a black Palo Alto High School senior who was mauled by a police dog two outside the 7-Eleven at 401 Waverley St. in 2016. 

February 2016 — City of Palo Alto paid $250,000 to Tyler Harney over an August 2013 traffic stop during which his arm was broken. Police claimed that both of the dash cameras that could have recorded the incident were broken at the time. The city settled just before an expert was going to be brought into the case to inspect the cameras to see if any tampering took place.

November 2015 — City of Palo Alto paid $3,000 to Roger Murray, then 85, who said he was pushed around by police and falsely arrested for public drunkenness in 2014. Charges against Murray were dropped.

Lawsuits the city of Mountain View has settled alleging police misconduct

February 2020 — City of Mountain View, County of Santa Clara Department of Family and Children Services; and American Medical Response paid $600,000 to the family of Danielle and Douglas Lother, whose 5-year-old daughter was disrobed by police and examined for sex abuse by an ambulance driver in January 2019.

April 2019 — City of Mountain View paid $325,000 to former police Officer Nicholas Emmerling, who sued after he was fired for going on military leave. He alleged in his lawsuit that police had an illegal quota system for officers.


  1. It will be interesting to see how much Palo Alto and Mountain View will have to pay for this case of neglecting training, hiring procedures, and self-indemnification of officers.

  2. I realize police dogs are supposed to be used for chasing suspects who don’t surrender to police, but what was the excuse here for using the dogs? That the guy wouldn’t wake up? I’d like to hear an explanation for how the dogs were used in this case.

  3. DA Jeff Rosen is a corrupt crony. He has dozens of videos proving from numerous angles that Officer Enberg and his fellow thugs ordered a PAPD attack dog to BITE BITE BITE the victim, then engage in a futile cover up, once they later realized that they used deadly force on the wrong guy without any evidence whatsoever. This evidence comes directly from the police officer body cameras.

    The fact that Rosen refuses to file charges despite this overwhelming evidence demonstrates how little Rosen cares about our safety in our own homes. Apparently, Rosen thinks its A-OK for cops to bust into your home and order a deadly attack dog to bite you while you sleep on your property, without any provocation or evidence that you are in any way connected with a crime. I guess that’s what Rosen thinks that cops … just … do …?

    Rosen is a menace. He has no right to hold his office and should be removed from his job. We deserve to be safe in our homes – especially from a giddy out-of-control police force. We must get rid of him.

    • Rosen doesn’t want to prosecute cops because he wants the endorsement of their unions at election time. He figures an incident like this will be forgotten, but campaigning by the POAs on his behalf will help him stay in office. It’s all about job security.

    • Seems like there is little in the way of oversite of the police, if the acting DA fails it prosecute serious wrongdoing by officers. This particular officer had previous complaints about his behavior. How many times does he get off before something is done?

      Surel he can’t still be working for Palo Alto?!?

  4. I’m wondering what the amount of the settlement would be, and how much affordable housing it would buy if it remained with the Cities. We need to reform the Police Department and the police union. Other cities have citizens oversight boards. Let’s start with that. I don’t like my City having to pay settlement after settlement.

  5. is there a way to punish the officers involved, maybe by docking their pay? the entire city shouldn’t be punished for their bad decisions.

  6. Without mentioning names, there is a failed city council candidate who shows up in the comment section every time there is an issue with the police department. This was a sad case of a miscommunication where it is tough to fault the officers but impossible to not sympathize with Mr. Alejo. The failed city council candidate should tone down their rhetoric and realize that not every scenario needs to have a right side and wrong side. There are many inaccuracies in this failed candidates statement regarding this specific case. I suggest they do their research before spewing their anti-police nonsense.

  7. Officer should be fired, his supervisors formally reprimanded, dog should be rehabilitated, de-fund at K-9 operations.

    If for the simple reason that it is not a cost effective police technique, aside from it being morally wrong.

  8. Officer Nick Enberg is the offender and should be prosecuted for violating the civil rights of the victim (a completely innocent person).

  9. Any cop whose dog bites somebody should be fired. Police shouldn’t decide the punishment for suspects. That’s the job of the courts.

  10. I want to support the police, but it’s hard to do with all of the incidents listed above. Maybe one or two could be overlooked but this is getting to be ridiculous. I want police on the streets, but many of these officers seem like criminals.

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