Lawsuit filed against Menlo police officers


Editor's Note: In July, 2015 an out of court settlement was reached relating to the lawsuit described in the story below. On Dec. 12, 2013, in a plea agreement, Hiruy Amanuel pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor hit and run charge referenced in the article. The misdemeanor charge for drinking under the influence causing injury was dismissed. Amanuel was sentenced to 10 days in county jail, fined $1,650 and placed on three years probation, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Menlo Park resident Hiruy Amanuel has filed a lawsuit against the City of Menlo Park and three Menlo Park police officers because of the officers' alleged handling of two incidents involving Amanuel earlier this year.

The suit, filed in federal court on Nov. 12, alleges that officers Ed Soares, James Luevano and "Officer Jeffries" violated Amanuel's civil rights during two traffic stops, one on Jan. 13 and another on Oct. 13.

The complaint alleges that the stops included illegal searches, racist comments and intimidation. Amanuel is represented in the civil action by attorneys Greg Walston and Thomas O'Brien.

Officers Soares and Luevano recognized him from an earlier case and subjected Amanuel to harassment and threats that left him upset and scared, according to the lawsuit.

Menlo Park Police Cmdr. Dave Bertini said the first stop was recorded via a digital audio recorder, and the second recorded with both video and audio.

The Almanac's research indicates no "Officer Jeffries" works for the police department; Mr. Walston was not immediately available for comment as to whether his client wasn't sure about the name or it was erroneously included in the filing.

Mr. Amanuel is currently facing misdemeanor charges in San Mateo County Superior Court for driving under the influence causing injury and hit-and-run.

In 2010, Amanuel pleaded guilty in federal court to one felony count of using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking, and was sentenced to 21 months in prison and one year of supervised probation that ended in 2012, according to court records. Two related charges, of conspiracy to distribute and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, were dismissed in the plea deal.

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Like this comment
Posted by Local Dave
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm

So, for 'balanced journalism' are you going to detail previous disciplinary charges and allegations against the officers?

Like this comment
Posted by Holly L.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 14, 2013 at 8:29 am

Local Dave:

Are you referring to this 2011 incident in which allegations of misconduct were made against Sgt. Soares?

Web Link

Also, the Palo Alto Daily Post reported on this federal harassment suit first, way back on November 27, 2013 in a front page story,

"Police Accused of Harassment in Federal Suit" by Jeramy Gordon.

The Post had a disturbing detail that the Almanac does NOT have.

From the Post:

" The suit claims that Soares then interrogated Amanuel's brother about a future criminal trial in which the brother had been subpoenaed to testify.

Amanuel claims Soares threatened to toss them both in jail if the brother 'did not testify differently than he had testified at the preliminary hearing in the case.'"

This kind of incident in which someone alleges that they have been threatened by police is nothing new. Inmates from San Mateo County have been complaining about this for years.

Like this comment
Posted by Private Investigator
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 21, 2014 at 5:39 pm

[Port removed. Please don't use Town Square to report the results of your investigation into criminal matters. You can email relevant information to our news desk,

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