A man who was arrested by Menlo Park police in August 2015 and held for 48 hours in the San Mateo County jail has filed a lawsuit against the city in federal court alleging wrongful arrest based on mistaken identity related to racial profiling.
The plaintiff, Francisco Guevara, 46 and a resident of Redwood City, is represented by Redwood City-based lawyer Mark Ruiz.
According to lawsuit, which was filed Jan. 31, Mr. Guevara alleges that the Menlo Park Police Department has a custom or policy of racial profiling.
He alleges in the suit that the suspect the police had been looking for, who faced charges of drunken driving, hit-and-run and driving without a license, had a physical description that did not match his except that both are Hispanic males.
He says he was stopped by the police near Flood Park around 8:40 a.m. on July 1, 2015, then searched and arrested without the officer having probable cause to suspect he had committed the crime.
Mr. Guevara says he proved to the court that the incident had been a case of mistaken identity, and he was released.
Mr. Guevara asks that the city compensate him for lost income while he was incarcerated, "excessive" storage fees for his car, and attorney's fees. He says he has suffered nightmares and panic attacks as the result of the incident, according to the suit.
His attorney, Mark Ruiz, said in an interview, "He has a valid concern that it was the result of profiling and that the effects have really been traumatic to him."
Menlo Park City Attorney Bill McClure said in an interview that Menlo Park has not yet been served with the case, and he hasn't heard anything about it other than what is available online in the federal court records system.
"We've never had any case where an allegation of racial profiling was upheld or validated," he said. Since 1978 when he began working for the city, "I don't remember any cases where there was an allegation of racial profiling," he said. "It has been a non-issue."