City releases transcript of murder victim’s call to police

Berkeley has released a transcript of a call made by Peter Cukor to BPD on Feb 18, shortly before he was murdered outside his home on Park Gate in the Park Hills neighborhood of Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor

City officials on Tuesday released a transcript of Peter Cukor’s Feb. 18 non-emergency call to police, and in it he asks for police to come “right away” to deal with Daniel Jordan DeWitt, who allegedly killed him about 15 minutes later.

The two-page transcript, however, does not reveal what, if any, level of urgency Cukor conveyed in his voice.

Cukor and his wife Andrea first encountered DeWitt when they returned to their home on Park Gate in the Berkeley hills around 8:30 pm on Feb. 18. DeWitt was hanging around their driveway. Cukor asked DeWitt to leave and then called police at 8:45 pm on a non-emergency number to report that a stranger was lingering nearby:

“Cukor: “Yes, there is a gentleman, a young man hanging around my property. I think he is a transient. I’m not sure.
Dispatch: What is the address sir?
Cukor: 2 Park Gate Berkeley
Dispatch: And he is just standing around there?
Cukor: Yeah. He says that he lives here. He wants to come in which is very strange. I’d like an officer up here right away.”

Police did not immediately respond to the call since dispatchers labeled it a “Priority 2″ call, meaning there was no crime in progress or life-threatening emergency. Police were gathering at that time to talk about an Occupy Oakland march that was expected to come to Berkeley that night and had decided to only respond to Priority 1 calls.

About 15 minutes later, Andrea Cukor called 911 to report that a man was bludgeoning Cukor with a ceramic planter in their driveway. Police immediately responded, but Cukor was already unconscious and in cardiac arrest after they arrived, according to a fire department report released to Berkeleyside Tuesday in response to a Public Records Request. Officals tried to resuscitate him, but he died later that night.

Police arrested DeWitt around 9:22 pm. Officers found him, covered in blood, just a few blocks from the Cukor’s house.

DeWitt was charged with murder, but an Alameda County judge ruled last week that he was not mentally competent to stand trial. DeWitt was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 18 and has been in and out of mental institutions since then. His parents have said they tried to get him long-term care but could not get him forcibly committed.

Transcript from Peter Cukor’s Feb. 18, 8:45 pm call to the non-emergency line of the Berkeley Police Department:

Mr Cukor: “Yes there is a gentleman a young man hanging around my property. I think he is a transient. I’m not sure.
D: What is the address sir?
C: 2 Park Gate Berkeley.
D: And he is just standing around there?
C: Yeah. He says that he lives here. He wants to come in which is very strange. I’d like an officer up here right away.
D: Sure. What race is he?
C: African American
D: He’s a black male. How old does he look?
C: I’d say he’s in his 20s.
D: How tall is he?
C: About 6’4”.
D: Is he small, medium or heavy build?
C: Medium.
D: What’s the color of his shirt or jacket?
C: He’s wearing a dark color hoodie.
D: And the color of his pants?
C: Well they’re dark I believe.
D: So he’s just standing there stating he lives there?
C: He’s looking for someone named Zooey. He’s pretty spacey.
D: Oh, okay.
C: Now Park Gate is just right at the fire station.
D: Sure.
C: My driveway is just before you get to the fountains.
D: Okay, may I have —
C: It’s not on Park Street, it’s on Shasta  just before you get to the fountains [unintelligible].
D: And may I have your name sir?
C: Peter last name spelled CUKOR.
D: And your phone number please.
C: 841-XXXX
D: Okay, we’ll try to get somebody out there as soon as we can.
C: Thank you.
D: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Related:
Suspect not competent to stand trial in Cukor murder [03.22.12]
Community gathers in wake of murder: quizzes Berkeley police [03.09.12]

Berkeley police: We responded properly to Cukor’s murder [03.02.12]
Councilmember calls public meeting after Berkeley murder [02.29.12]
Murder suspect trial delayed for psychological assessment [02.24.12]
Murder suspect was looking for fictional girlfriend [02.23.12]
Councilmember: unanswered questions over murder [02.23.12]
Alleged killer had been in and out of mental institutions [02.21.12]
Berkeley hills neighbors react with shock to brutal murder [02.20.12]
Intruder assaults, kills homeowner on Grizzly Peak [02.19.12]

Print Friendly
Tagged , , , , , , ,
  • Bruce Love

    Now you are arguing that if BPD were not inappropriately postured that night, it might not have made a difference.

    And that’s true and nobody disagrees or has said anything to the contrary.

    What is also true is that a different readiness posture might well have made a difference.  That the chief reacted very unprofessionally to a report that he’d apologized for the delay that the readiness posture ensured.  And now, that the chief apparently was not accurate to the public regarding legally significant details of his inappropriate reaction to the report.

  • Fedup

    If someone I don’t know is in my yard (here in Berkeley), after dark, claiming they live there, they are going to get shot. I will ask all other questions afterwards.

  • Fedup

    …and then I will call the police.

  • BHills

    Same tragedy, different victim.  Let’s leave Sanford, FL in Sanford, FL.

  • Bruce Love

    The unfortunate coincidence is that Berkeleyside comments have included anonymous folks encouraging people to racially profile, especially in the hills and west berkeley, and also comments encouraging folks to arm up.   The mentality on exhibit in Sanford seems to be apparent here, as well.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    The problem with your theory is when it escalates its too late! Cukor’s wife waited until it escalated and it was too late! I hope for your sake no one in your family suffers because you “waited until the situation escalates” I would rather inconvenience someone tying up resources than have a family member die!

  • The Sharkey

    …Berkeleyside comments have included anonymous folks encouraging people to racially profile…

    Really? I haven’t seen that. Which comments are you referring to?

    (Not doubting you, I probably just missed them in the flurry of back-and-forth with this and the other BPD-related stories that have been all over the news lately.)

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    The problem with your theory is when it escalates its too late! Cukor’s wife waited until it escalated and it was too late! I hope for your sake no one in your family suffers because you “waited until the situation escalates” I would rather inconvenience someone tying up resources than have a family member die!

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    I wondered how long it would be before Mr. Love would join Mr. Holland in putting people down and belittling them?

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    You also are anonymous…Bruce love is not your real name. I could make up a fantasy name like you and become a hypocrit just like you “mr. Love”

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    So why do you have both numbers programmed into your phone mr. holland?

  • Bruce Love

    Some examples that particularly struck me were some about how out of place young black males look when they are up in the hills and how if they are trying to look tough one should call the cops.  Similar comments have been made about other parts of town.   Forgive me for not dredging up links to the ugly cites.

  • Bruce Love

    My name is Thomas Lord.  One of my given names is also Bruce, love.  This tiresome fact has been rehearsed ad nauseum on Berkeleyside.    I am proud of my comments although I’m sure there are parts I’d fix.

  • The Sharkey

    Hmm. Google searching for any of those terms isn’t coming up with anything. Do you remember which article they were in response to?

  • BerkeleyPariah

    without occupy this conversation never happens!

  • Heather_W_62

    I spoke with a member of our police department today and he said that there has been an increase in calls about suspicious characters after “recent event”. It would be interesting to know if people are profiling, or if they are being hyper-vigilant when they were ordinarily just ignore the now-reportable behaviors. This hypervigilance will decrease over the next few months so long as nothing else happens….

  • John Holland

    “3rdGenBerkeleyan” wrote

    So why do you have both numbers programmed into your phone mr. holland?

    Confusing isn’t it? I’m mostly just doing what I’m told to do by the police.

    I have the non-emergency number to report situations that are not emergencies. I use this number to report a situation that is not life threatening.  An  example of this type of situation would be a suspicious person loitering on my property who appeared confused or disoriented. The reason I call the non-emergency line is because it would be illegal to call 911 and “act hysterical” if there is not an actual life-threatening emergency.

    The reason I have the emergency number is just in case there is an actual emergency, I want to follow the instructions of the BPD as closely as possible, and they instruct me to call the emergency line in an emergency.

    Of course, I’ve heard the reality that all calls are triaged regardless of which line they come in on. But, in an emergency, I want to follow the instructions of the BPD as closely as possible. In a non-emergency (e.g.  a suspicious person), I don’t want to break the law. 

    Do you find fault with this approach?

  • John Holland

    Also, plenty of people here have advocated shooting a suspicious person. That’s George Zimmerman-esque, if you ask me.

  • John Holland

    No answer. Because the answer is obvious. Zimmerman did not believe he was in danger. He called Mr. Dewitt a “gentleman”, for gosh sakes.

    Who describes an assailant as a “gentleman”?!

    There’s a reason “3rdGenBerkeleyan” didn’t respond to my question.

  • John Holland

    But Mr. Cukor did not report that crime in his call. He reported a “gentleman”, not a burglar.

  • John Holland

    “The Sharkey” wrote:

    Calling 911 to report a stranger… attempting to break into your home

    But that’s not what Mr. Cukor said. He reported a “spacey” individual, not a burglar. 

    Why are you twisting Mr. Cukor’s  words? (Pro tip: there is a transcript above. )

    He referred to Mr. Dewitt as a “gentleman”. Is that how you would describe an assailant?

  • John Holland

    “bgal4″ wrote:

    The statement is in quotes not written by me.

    How can we know that? There’s no link, or attribution or anything. Where did it come from? Who said it? What is the context?  Without that, it’s meaningless.

    Poor sourcing. Not uncommon.

  • John Holland

    “The Sharkey” wrote:

    Trespassing and attempted breaking and entry seems like something that should be P1 to me.

    Me, too. 

    But that’s not what I asked. I made no mention of breaking and entry. You changed my question, and dodged the original one.

    Do you think a suspicious person/trespasser call should be classified as a P1-guns-loaded-sirens-blazing-someone’s-being-bludgeoned-with-flowerpot-life-threatening-emergency absent breaking and entry?

  • John Holland

    No link. I’m guessing it doesn’t exist.

  • John Holland

    Try focusing on the subject of the story.

  • John Holland

    Since “The Sharkey” never answered my question, I thought I would create a poll: Which version of th Cukor murder do you believe?

    I’m interested to see the results.

  • Guest

     

    How can we know that?

    There are quotation marks around it.

  • John Holland

    Anonymous guest wrote:

    There are quotation marks around it.

    That doesn’t mean the quote is real. It was just some nobody. You can’t even find the quote on the Internet. It seems made up to me without a source, and there’s a history of made up “experts” from his poster. Remember the whole
    plenty of national studies debacle?

    You can put anything in quotes. 

    From a police chief I know: “BPD did an exemplary job that busy night in Berkeley. Berkeley policing is fantastic. ”

    I didn’t make it up…it’s in quotes