News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Officer Swims into Creek to Rescue, Then Arrest Wanted Felon
Contact : Kara Apple, Sergeant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Lee James Daniels booking photo
Palo Alto, CA -- A wanted felon running from police attempted to get away by swimming across San Francisco Creek at the Palo Alto Baylands during a high tide, but experienced distress halfway across and went under the water.  An officer swam into the creek, rescued the man, and pulled him safely back to shore.  Police later booked him into jail.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, at about 9:32 a.m., an officer on patrol saw a subject he recognized from prior contacts riding a bicycle on Embarcadero Road near East Bayshore Road.  The officer knew the man was on probation, and believed he also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.  The officer and the suspect made eye contact, at which point the suspect rode into an office complex in the 1700 block of Embarcadero Road and disappeared.  The officer located the man's abandoned bicycle a short time later.  The officer confirmed that the suspect was wanted for a felony probation violation warrant and also a misdemeanor warrant for giving false information to police.

Other officers swarmed the area in an effort to locate the suspect.  A short time later, another officer spotted him running westbound on the levee behind the Baylands Athletic Center at 1900 Geng Road.  The officer chased after the suspect on foot.  The suspect suddenly jumped down into the creek and started to swim across it northbound, towards East Palo Alto.  The officer ordered the suspect to come out of the creek, but the suspect kept swimming.  About halfway across, the suspect became submerged under the water and did not come back up.

The high tide that morning was at 10:08 a.m., and despite the current drought conditions, there was a substantial amount of water in the creek at this location.  It can be up to 10 feet deep in the area.  When the officer did not see the suspect come up for air, the officer became concerned that the suspect was possibly drowning.  The officer jumped into the creek and swam out to retrieve the suspect, who then resurfaced but remained in distress.  The officer was able to pull the man safely back to shore.

Another officer pulled his partner back up to the levee, but the suspect, who was exhausted from fleeing and swimming, refused to exit the water and instead rested against the shore.  The creek in that particular location has a steep, nearly vertical embankment, and the levee was about ten to twelve feet above water level at the time of the incident.  There was no safe way for officers to physically pull the suspect back up to the levee.  The suspect refused to help officers get him out of the creek.

Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department responded to the scene, and used a rope rescue system to physically lower an officer down the steep embankment.  That officer assisted the Fire Department personnel with placing a harness on the suspect.  The Fire Department personnel then pulled the officer and the suspect back up to the levee, where officers arrested the suspect without incident.  The suspect complained of pain from injuries he sustained to his leg and head when jumping into the creek.  He was medically evaluated at Stanford Hospital before being taken to jail.  No officers were injured.

In addition to the two outstanding warrants, police booked 53-year-old Menlo Park resident Lee James Daniels into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for misdemeanor resisting arrest.  A booking photo is attached to this release.  Daniels is on probation in San Mateo County stemming from a prior conviction for narcotics possession.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.