Almanac

News - December 25, 2013

Menlo Park: Mysterious cop in suit identified

by Sandy Brundage

When a Menlo Park resident filed a lawsuit that alleged illegal stops, searches and harassment and named three police officers, his complaint included an officer that technically didn't exist: "Officer Jeffries."

No such officer works for the Menlo Park Police Department. But according to the city's response to the lawsuit, the mysterious officer is actually Officer Jeffrey Vasquez, who made headlines earlier this year for unrelated reasons when revealed as the veteran officer who was busted naked in a motel room with a prostitute.

In its response, the city denies the allegations, made by Hiruy Amanuel, that officers Ed Soares, James Luevano and "Officer Jeffries" violated his rights during two traffic stops, one on Jan. 13 and another on Oct. 31.

The second stop, according to Menlo Park, actually took place on Nov. 2, and did not include a search as alleged by the plaintiff. The city's response also denies that any civil rights violations or harassment occurred.

Mr. Amanuel is represented in the civil action by attorneys Greg Walston and Thomas O'Brien. Mr. Walston did not respond to questions from the Almanac regarding the misidentification of one of the police officers.

According to the police department, the first stop was recorded via a digital audio recorder, and the second recorded with both video and audio.

Mr. Amanuel currently faces criminal charges in San Mateo County Superior Court in connection with a misdemeanor driving under the influence causing injury and a hit-and-run. In 2010, he pleaded guilty in federal court to a felony count of using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking. Two related charges, of conspiracy to distribute and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, were dismissed.

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