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Former Palo Alto police sergeant charged with assault during 2018 arrest

Original post made on Oct 6, 2020

Former Palo Alto police Sgt. Wayne Benitez has been charged with the assault of a Buena Vista Mobile Home Park man during an incident two years ago.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, October 6, 2020, 3:41 PM

Comments (24)

35 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

Chances are this incident will get swept under the rug.

The PAPD officer has since retired and the suspect in addition to resisting arrest at the time of the altercation received a nice settlement from the City of Palo Alto.

Hopefully we will see fewer of these occurances as law enforcement is under further scrutiny these days and many municipalities cannot afford to continue paying high ticket settlements to suspects & arrestees.


45 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2020 at 6:23 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Driving under the influence when he could've killed someone, and resisting arrest. When will suspects learn that you can't resist arrest. I also believe nothing will happen to Benitez. Alvarez got his settlement.


46 people like this
Posted by Ardan Michael Blum
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2020 at 7:37 pm

Ardan Michael Blum is a registered user.

Note: A guilty verdict for Mr Benitez could result in his loosing his pension. Also: Pls to be balanced, you might share the arrest record of the plaintif which may be why his lawyers settled the case at over a million under their original ask.


20 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 6, 2020 at 7:52 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Finally. How nice the city let him retire rather than fire him.

Has our city manager FINALLY decided to to stop stonewalling and comment? If not now, when?

What's the new outside police auditor going to do to prevent recurrence of this type of abuse in the future and to whom will he/she report?


48 people like this
Posted by Yolanda E. May
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 6, 2020 at 8:41 pm

Yolanda E. May is a registered user.

As far as I see the abuse is not beating him up Rodney King style. This is a police action not a tea party.The officer was out of line but not a savage racist.


17 people like this
Posted by sbw
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:39 pm

sbw is a registered user.

I heard on the news that the Police Chief Robert Jonsen agreed with the charges. That's not what he was saying for the last for the last year and half evidenced by allowing Benitez to retire with nothing more than a requirement that he apologize.

Lest anyone forget, Benitez did not only slammed a citizen into the windshield, Benitez smashed the Constitution at the same time and then again when he made a false statement on the police report.

Jonsen is just making himself look good by accepting the DA's assessment. Had DA Rosen not made the faux pas of condemning Benitez's actions falsely assuming the statute of limitations had expired the DA would not be charging Benitez.


59 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:14 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

The "victim" in this case, Gustavo Alvarez, was a criminal who already accumulated a long criminal record. He was whining excessively and resisting arrest by refusing to comply with officers.

I have watched the video.
I have absolutely NO sympathy for Gustavo Alvarez.
If I was on the jury, I would acquit Officer Benitez.

District Attorney Jeff Rosen should be ASHAMED for desperately trying to justify the funding of his "Public and Law Enforcement Integrity Team" by making Officer Benitez his first sacrificial lamb at the altar of mob hysteria.


35 people like this
Posted by Wait for real Justice
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2020 at 9:40 am

Wait for real Justice is a registered user.

Finally the first steps are being taken to PAPD accountability 2 1/2 years after Mr. Alvarez was brutalized, lost a tooth, bloodied, with all sorts of slurs about him and low income people uttered by the chain of command Sgt Benitiz as other officers stood around and did nothing to stop it.

On the video, one clearly hears an officer say he doesn't know that Alvarez was even driving the car. When his head is slammed into the windshild by Benitiz, Alvarez was handcuffed, not resisting, and surrounded by officers, one with his gun drawn. All charges were dropped against Alvarez. None of this should have even happened.

Time will tell if conviction and felony jail time is given Benitiz, with loss of his pension. Palo Altans have no accountability yet by other officers who covered up this incident for 1 1/2 years, maintaining the toxic culture of silence in the PAPD, choosing instead to violate PAPD policy. We need to know what is going on with that.

The soft-on-crime, blame the victim stance that commenters here take on Benitiz is bizarre, a suspect charged with a violent crime, who ignored specific PAPD policies, and violating state and federal laws. It's already cost the city nearly $600,000.

How perfect would a victim have to be before police misconduct matters? If the victim were a high income white female living in N. PA with no record, would that do it? Police have lethal force to use on us - it must be regulated and taken seriously for all. That is what it says in the US Constitution Bill of Rights, laws, and PAPD policies. No exceptions for whether you happen to like a victim. No beauty contests. Everyone needs to get this straight.

A policy in the PAPD Manual that allows an officer to resign before a disciplinary hearing outcome. This is what Benitiz seemingly chose to do, keeping his pension intact at more than $10k a month. Otherwise he could have lost it with a bad outcome. In 2018 he made $295K with benefits according to Transparent California.

The city council needs to stay on course to make substantial reform of policy and accountabilty in the PAPD to get to the racism and police culture that allows this to happen.


23 people like this
Posted by Ardan Michael Blum
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2020 at 10:57 am

Ardan Michael Blum is a registered user.

To the commenter above: If you need to bash the concept of law and order you might want to think a little first about real situations of needed action against savage, in-human, white on black hate. Or other acts of crazed hatred masked in blue. Only, holding on to the one-size fits all and chanting neo-communist tunes about police culture is not helping out locally our community. Yolanda (above) is right on track.


12 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:07 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

This was clearly a situation that should have been pursued at the time. Because of the current climate, it is reconsidered.


6 people like this
Posted by Ranvapa
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:26 am

Ranvapa is a registered user.


36 people like this
Posted by !
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:51 am

! is a registered user.

Did you see the way Alvarez was resisting?! We are going to lose all our cops. The public has gone nuts! It's okay for a police officer to be physically hurt or killed but not a criminal with a rap sheet? WTH, people?! People need to be scared of cops and the criminals aren't. This sh*t doesn't happen in Singapore or Asian countries. Americans have too many rights. Criminals do not positively contribute to society.


23 people like this
Posted by Marianne Mueller
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 7, 2020 at 12:18 pm

Marianne Mueller is a registered user.

of course it’s not OK for a police officer to be hurt or killed on duty or off duty, however I shudder at the statement that it’s OK to assault someone who has a criminal record or who is whining that last comment really floored me. and speaking up for the bill of rights is not neocommunist hardly! I mean come on I thought this was a civil forum.


12 people like this
Posted by Ardan Michael Blum
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2020 at 12:53 pm

Ardan Michael Blum is a registered user.

@MarianneMueller - You are right. If I could edit my post above I would. So I re-write it with a change:

(To Wait for real Justice) ... If you need to bash the concept of law and order you might want to think a little first about real situations of needed action against savage, in-human, white on black hate. Or other acts of crazed hatred masked in blue. Only, holding on to the one-size fits all and chanting generic tunes about police culture is not helping out locally our community. Yolanda (above) is right on track.


15 people like this
Posted by Wait for real Justice
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2020 at 1:19 pm

Wait for real Justice is a registered user.

As it turns out, Benitiz was only charged with misdemeanor assault by DA Jeff Rosen.
As I said - wait for real justice.
As the Civil Rights Movement taught - freedom is a constant struggle.



23 people like this
Posted by Civil Rights, Good Policing and Law & Order are Not Mutually Exclusive
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2020 at 2:11 pm

Civil Rights, Good Policing and Law & Order are Not Mutually Exclusive is a registered user.

When the Palo Alto Police do sloppy policing and violate citizens civil rights (even to low level repeat offenders) they should be held fully accountable. We should have a police force that is competent enough to understand if they have enough evidence to kick down a door, do a warrant check before doing so and not violating the plaintiff's civil rights. It's a pretty low bar that officer's like Benitez and DeStefanos could not meet. It would have also saved the city $500K in settlement costs for this incident and resulted in this criminal being convicted of resisting arrest. For everyone of you who thinks you must either be all in on Law & Order at all costs to civil rights or think we should turn a blind eye to looting, rioting and repeat low-level crimes, I want to stand with the folks who think neither is acceptable.


41 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2020 at 8:06 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"When the Palo Alto Police do sloppy policing and violate citizens civil rights (even to low level repeat offenders) they should be held fully accountable."

^ Concurring...temperament & restraint on the part of law enforcement is paramount.

On the other hand, many suspects & arrestees test these limits via beligerence & physical resistance.

It's a fine line and there are always two sides to every coin.


9 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2020 at 6:51 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I think the headline is misleading; the video shows the officer, after pursing a suspect, who was known to them as a career criminal, slamming his body against the car chassis, maybe his teeth made contact with the glass. The reason his report said there was nothing unusual about the apprehension is because he did not, as your headline claims, slam his head.
I met Sgt Wayne Benitez in 2010 as part of the stakeholders group regarding Lytton Plaza. My understanding is that before twenty plus years in Palo Alto public safety, he served ten years at the hospital, as a tech or therapist.
I believe the charges are due to unusual political pressure on the DA. Similar to the Pesky recalll.
How many of you who criticize Wayne Benitez are also unwilling to put your life in the line protecting and serving?
He will be acquitted of these trumped up charges. He earned his pension.


9 people like this
Posted by Civil Rights, Good Policing and Law & Order are Not Mutually Exclusive
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2020 at 7:33 pm

Civil Rights, Good Policing and Law & Order are Not Mutually Exclusive is a registered user.

Mark,

Did you watch the video of the incident closely? I did and what you described is not what I saw. After the suspect was cuffed and no longer a threat to the officers, Benitez then unnecessarily slammed the suspects face onto the hood of the car in clear violations of his civil rights.


8 people like this
Posted by Alex
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:26 am

Alex is a registered user.

The amount of apologists here who clearly didn't watch the videos is disgusting. If the police think it's ok to assault someone who is already handcuffed and restrained, what do you think will happen to you if you ever find yourself in that situation? I think we all know why you won't.

And to !, I'd love to see how your tune changes if you're ever accused of something by a cop. I don't think you'll be complaining about criminals having rights then. I hope every single cop that thinks beating up suspects is a legitimate tactic does leave. I don't want people like that in my city.


2 people like this
Posted by Civil Rights, Good Policing and Law & Order are Not Mutually Exclusive
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 12, 2020 at 10:30 am

Civil Rights, Good Policing and Law & Order are Not Mutually Exclusive is a registered user.

For those of you who want to see the actual video of the officer slamming the suspects head on the windshield while handcuffed can watch this video on the mercury news website which is less than 2 minutes and shows the act in the first 15 seconds of video.

Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"...if you're ever accused of something by a cop. I don't think you'll be complaining about criminals having rights then."

^ Concurring...I've been there before & pervasive BULLYING efforts towards self-incrimination on the part of the police tends to run rampant regardless of one's race, color or creed.

In the eyes of law enforcement, ALL suspects (regardless of the infringement or crime) are presumed guilty.

Like in the westerns...sometimes the only difference between the outlaws & the town marshall is a tin badge.


6 people like this
Posted by Lee Forrest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Lee Forrest is a registered user.

>"...if you're ever accused of something by a cop. I don't think you'll be complaining about criminals having rights then."

^ Concurring...I've been there before & pervasive BULLYING efforts towards self-incrimination on the part of the police tends to run rampant regardless of one's race, color or creed.

In the eyes of law enforcement, ALL suspects (regardless of the infringement or crime) are presumed guilty.

Like in the westerns...sometimes the only difference between the outlaws & the town marshall is a tin badge.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Oct 12, 2020 at 6:47 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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