VIDEO: San Mateo Police Department responds to accusations of wrongly detaining couple at gunpoint

SAN MATEO (KRON) — San Mateo Police Department is responding to accusations that they pulled over a couple at gunpoint after the pair honked at another car last Friday.

In a story you will only see on KRON4, the couple says everything started when they were driving to Safeway to get food for their children, and honked at another driver.

They say an argument ensued with the driver, and before they knew it, they were surrounded by 15-20 officers, some of which had guns drawn.

Soon after reporting this story, San Mateo police issued a statement.

According to police, they were responding to a report of death threats made by a man armed with a gun.

“Given the allegation of a firearm in the vehicle and death threats by the suspect, as well as historical information on the registered owner that included firearm allegations, a high risk stop was performed,” they said.

Here’s the entire official statement about the incident.

SMPD STATEMENT

Friday afternoon June 2, at about 5:30pm, SMPD received a report of death threats and a firearm brandishing in the area of 42nd Avenue and El Camino Real. The victim described to officers that during a traffic altercation, the male suspect (self-identified in the media as David Solano) brandished a handgun and made a death threat. The victim had a photo of the vehicle and license plate. The vehicle was registered to Mr. Solano, who has a history of contacts with this department that includes firearm allegations and other alleged criminal activity.

Given this information, SMPD initiated a countywide Be-on-the-Lookout with details that the vehicle occupants could be armed. Within minutes, an SMPD officer located the exact suspect vehicle. Given the allegation of a firearm in the vehicle and death threats by the suspect, as well as historical information on the registered owner that included firearm allegations, a high risk stop was performed. During this high risk stop, the female passenger in the vehicle (self-identified in media as Jennifer Thomas) directed an object at officers which was later discovered to be a mobile phone. Officers, at that time safely detaining Solano for safety, and not knowing whether the alleged firearm was in the vehicle, pointed a firearm at Thomas until Solano was detained. As seen on video, they then retreated to an area of cover to order Thomas safely out of the vehicle. No gun was found in the vehicle, or on Solano or Thomas. Based on the lack of an actual firearm found, the vehicle occupants were released at the scene, and the case has been forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office to determine if any charges are appropriate. No-one was injured during this incident.

Once the stop was rendered safe, SMPD officers and the sergeant on scene did their best to practice procedural justice and explain the reasons for their stop. However, neither of the occupants were interested in hearing our explanation. We have additionally reached out to them again, to offer them a voice in the incident and to provide any further explanation they wish.

SMPD clarified their statement on Wednesday:

In the very swift and immediate initial investigation of this case, Officers were advised of a prior history with Solano that was a concealed weapon investigation. We are researching the communication chain on this, but it appears that case involved an edged weapon and not a firearm. There were multiple other alleged criminal acts in Solano’s history with SMPD – that fact remains unchanged.

It is critically important to note that this is in regard to Solano’s history, and not the investigation of the moment, which DID UNEQUIVOCALLY involve the allegation of a firearm as well as a death threat. The heightened response by police and high-risk traffic stop tactics would not have been changed by this difference in historical information.

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