Independent auditor says facts omitted from police report on chase

Michael Gennaco
Michael Gennaco is lead attorney with the Office of Independent Review, which provides police auditing services to the Palo Alto Police Department. Post file photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

A Palo Alto police officer drove through six intersections without stopping and passed two large trucks in a car chase down Sand Hill Road, and then a supervisor understated what happened in a memo reviewing his actions, according to a report from police auditor Mike Gennaco.

The chase ended when the driver rolled her car over at 50 mph.

The supervisor wrote that the officer followed policy, but his review of the incident didn’t line up with the video, Gennaco said.

“The analysis of the pursuit suffers from the omission of important facts that were captured by the video equipment,” Gennaco wrote in his report, which covers uses of force by Palo Alto police in the first six months of the year.

Gennaco said that he didn’t find “any intent to deceive” by the supervisor.
Gennaco doesn’t name the officer, the supervisor or when the chase happened, but the case lines up with one that police described on April 20.

The officer was chasing Francesca Marie Maufas, 35, of San Francisco, after she allegedly stole sunglasses from Macy’s in the Stanford Shopping Center.
The officer pulled Maufas over in a parking lot, but she reversed her Honda CRV into his police car and then headed west on Sand Hill Road, police said.
The officer chased Maufas with his lights and sirens on for around two minutes, Gennaco said.

Maufas hit a curb as she approached Interstate 280 and flipped her car going about 50 mph, police said.

She tried to run, but the officer ran after her and tackled her to the ground, police said.

The officer injured his wrist and was out of work for several weeks, and the woman’s hands were bloody, Gennaco said.

Gennaco reviewed videos and the supervisor’s memo that found the officer followed policy.

“The failure of the supervisory memorandum to include all salient facts — and to base any subsequent analysis on all those facts — undercuts the legitimacy of the department’s bottom-line conclusion,” Gennaco said.

For example, the department’s pursuit policy says that officers “should exercise due caution when proceeding through controlled intersections.”

The supervisor’s memo says that the officer failed to slow down at one intersection with a stop sign or traffic light. Yet a review of the dash-cam footage showed the officer failed to slow though six of these intersections, Gennaco said.

The supervisor’s memo says the officer crossed over to the opposite lane on a two-lane road to pass a large truck.

Video footage, however, shows the officer actually passed two large trucks in the same maneuver, and briefly crossed into the opposing lane again later in the chase, Gennaco found.

The supervisor also didn’t write about the officer chasing and tackling Maufas on foot, even though it was a use of force that should’ve been reviewed, Gennaco found.

“The supervising officer did not evaluate the officer’s actions to determine whether the officer’s actions were ‘reasonable’ and followed the criteria set out in policy,” Gennaco said.

It doesn’t appear from the report that Gennaco interviewed the supervisor nor the officer. He wasn’t immediately available for a phone call on Monday to talk about the report.

Chief Andrew Binder wrote a memo in response to the report, agreeing with Gennaco’s recommendations.

“The department will reinforce to supervisors that all relevant and factual details should be included in vehicle pursuit evaluations,” Binder said.

1 Comment

  1. And this is what happens when we open the boarders.
    They didn’t mention if they were US citizens. The people from Mexico and Latin America are much different than Americans. The young men are violent and the young women think nothing of stealing. Thanks Democratic Party! What next?

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