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


PRESS RELEASE 0609201602
Subject :

Police Arrest Man for Robbery & Hate Crime After Parking Dispute
Contact : Marco Estrada, Agent, Police Department    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA – Police arrested a man for strong-arm robbery, hate crimes, and hit-and-run after he assaulted a cab driver following a parking dispute.

On Friday, May 27, 2016, at about 6:50 p.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call reporting an in-progress battery near the Palo Alto transit center at 95 University Avenue.  A witness provided a description and license plate of the suspect vehicle (a black 2015 Toyota Camry) as it fled the scene.  A patrol officer spotted the vehicle travelling southbound on Alma Street, made a car stop, and detained the suspect (and solo occupant) without incident.

The investigation revealed that the suspect had been sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot on Urban Lane, just south of University Circle.  The victim, a male in his forties from India, drove up in his vehicle (a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria taxi cab) and stopped in the roadway partially behind the suspect's vehicle.  The victim said he got out and asked the suspect, whose vehicle was parked in two parking spots, if he would move his car into one spot or the other so the victim could park too.

The victim said the suspect began yelling racial epithets at him.  The victim went back to his car and got into the driver’s seat.  The suspect got out of his car, approached the passenger side door of the taxi, and attempted to punch the victim while continuing to yell racial epithets.  When the victim took out his cell phone to try to take a picture of the suspect, the suspect went to the driver’s side window of the cab, punched the victim once in the jaw, and grabbed the victim’s cell phone out of his hand.  The suspect then threw the victim’s cell phone at him.  The phone struck the victim in the head, causing the phone’s screen to crack.  The suspect then returned to his own car, and backed it twice into the victim’s cab while attempting to reverse out of the parking spot.  The suspect then pulled his car forward, jumped a curb, and drove away westbound on University Circle.  Two independent witnesses observed the incident, and one of them called police.

The victim complained of pain to his jaw but did not require medical attention at the scene.  Both vehicles sustained minor damage as a result of the two collisions.

Police booked the suspect, 52-year-old David Charles Cirner of Palo Alto, into the Santa Clara County Main Jail for felony robbery (for taking the victim’s cell phone by force), two misdemeanor counts of hate crimes (one for the physical assault, the other for damaging personal property), and misdemeanor hit-and-run.  His booking photo is attached to this release.

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.  Tips can also be submitted anonymously through our free mobile app, downloadable at or