Pattern of on-going harassment by the Palo Alto Police Department Alleged

Long time Palo Alto resident Tony Ciampi and local police watchdog claims in his latest email to city leaders he was made the subject of what he feels to be an illegal traffic stop by PAPD officer Thomas Destefano.

Based on the information received from Mr. Ciampi in his email he alleges he was detained and targeted for, “not having reflectors on my bicycle pedals.”  We thought we would take a closer look at the law and this is what we uncovered.

V C Section 21201.5 Reflectorized Equipment

Reflectorized Equipment

21201.5.  (a) No person shall sell, or offer for sale, a reflex reflector or reflectorized tire of a type required on a bicycle unless it meets requirements established by the department. If there exists a federal Consumer Product Safety Commission regulation applicable to bicycle reflectors, the provisions of that regulation shall prevail over provisions of this code or requirements established by the department pursuant to this code relative to bicycle reflectors.

(b) No person shall sell, or offer for sale, a new bicycle that is not equipped with a red reflector on the rear, a white or yellow reflector on each pedal visible from the front and rear of the bicycle, a white or yellow reflector on each side forward of the center of the bicycle, and a white or red reflector on each side to the rear of the center of the bicycle, except that bicycles which are equipped with reflectorized tires on the front and rear need not be equipped with these side reflectors.

(c) Area reflectorizing material meeting the requirements of Section 25500 may be used on a bicycle.

Amended Ch. 399, Stats. 1980. Effective July 11, 1980 by terms of an urgency clause.

Based on the law, we find that reflective pedals are a requirement on new bicycles only. The existing statue makes no mention of retrofitting older bikes which Mr. Ciampi owns with reflective pedals.

So were at odds as to the real motives behind of Officer Thomas Destefano’s detention. Mr. Ciampi was the recipient of a recent $35,000.00 dollar payout settlement by the Palo Alto Police Department on a similar non-consensual detention and tasing where the police admitted to no wrong doing.

However in this case, Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett ruled that “law officials should not trample upon Constitutional rights” of people, saying that the conduct of the Palo Alto officers was “tainted.”

Mr. Ciampi is also calling for a review of the MAV tapes which recorded the entire traffic stop from city attorney Molly Stumps and Police Chief Dennis Burns.  It will be interesting to see how transparent this investigation turns out to be.