Suspended deputy's appeal rejected by commission


The county Civil Service Commission on Tuesday (Nov. 10) voted unanimously to uphold disciplinary action against Deputy Juan Lopez of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office in connection with allegations that he violated jail policies and procedures.

An internal-affairs investigation in 2014 concluded that Mr. Lopez inappropriately touched at least one inmate (by hugging him), provided inmates with food from outside the jail, and lied to investigators.

The five-member commission met to hear Mr. Lopez's appeal of the punishment, which consisted of a 150-hour suspension and his designation as an officer who could not be relied on to tell the truth.

The commission acted after a day of testimony from several Sheriff's Office employees, much of it recounting events of Nov. 5, 2013, during a transfer of an inmate from one cell block of the county jail to another. The transfer was made out of concern for the inmate's safety.

Witnesses said that during the transfer, Mr. Lopez hugged the inmate twice – once with a "bro-hug," a handshake in which the two men also put their free arms around each other's shoulders – and again when they were walking out of the cell block and allegedly had their arms on each other's shoulders.

Physical contact by deputies and corrections officers with inmates is considered inappropriate out of concern for prison discipline and the safety of officers and inmates, Undersheriff Carlos Bolanos said in his testimony. Perceptions may lead to suspicion of a quid pro quo or that the inmate was an informant, he said.

Mr. Lopez is also accused of conspiracy in the smuggling of cellphones into the jail and of fraud in connection with his run for sheriff in the June 2014 election.

The Almanac was unable to reach Mr. Lopez for comment. According to a report in the Daily Journal, Mr. Lopez denied hugging the inmate and acknowledged providing food for inmates in keeping with his religious principles about not wasting food.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


2 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Under-sheriff Carlos Bolanos has been selected by Sheriff Munks to succeed him as Sheriff next year. The two were caught in an underage sex slave sting near Las Vegas but no one ever even ran against Munks in two later Sheriff elections (until Lopez tried incompetently to run and became a write-in in 2014). Someone should run against Bolanos. But will an opponent step forward if it is perceived that the Sheriff and DA can and will trump up criminal charges against any such troublemaker? So, it is in the public interest that Lopez's criminal case be pursued and concluded without further delays.

1 person likes this
Posted by Thank you, John
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 12, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. This corruption makes me so angry that I can't see straight. You have written a much more level-headed comment than I ever could.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2015 at 6:48 pm

John wrote

"Under-sheriff Carlos Bolanos has been selected by Sheriff Munks to succeed him as Sheriff next year."

I just wanted to point out the election is in 3 years, not next year.

24 people like this
Posted by Bro
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 12, 2015 at 7:35 pm

Maybe candidates can get paperwork in by the deadline in 2018, if they're not too busy giving bro-hugs to inmates.

Folks sure know how to pick'em.

Question: is the entire county Civil Service Commission crooked also? After all, they ruled against Lopez. Must be dirty!

5 people like this
Posted by What a relief!
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2015 at 9:01 pm

It sure is reassuring to see the sheriff and perhaps some of his supporters in law enforcement crack down on transgressions by fellow cops. I must have misjudged Munks, Wagstaffe and Bolanos. I thought they were part of the whole thin blue line stuff and would defend stuff their brothers in blue did that were far worse than a bro embrace. I guess this means that lots of stuff is going to change, citizen complaints are going to be taken seriously, and cops who mess up are going to get firmly disciplined and criminally charged.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Couple brings Chinese zongzi to Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 5,776 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 6 comments | 1,372 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 1,244 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,075 views

Bobby in Naziland: A Tale of Flatbush
By Stuart Soffer | 2 comments | 483 views


Register today!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More