Name released after death in custody, cause unknown

Police headquarters

Photo: Kaia Diringer

Authorities have released the name of the person who died in custody on Feb. 12 — after police were called to a downtown Berkeley apartment building for a mental health evaluation — as Xavier Christopher Moore.

Moore was a 41-year-old Berkeley resident, according to the Alameda County coroner’s office, which released Moore’s name earlier this week.

Moore’s cause of death has not been determined, according to the coroner’s office, and has been deferred pending toxicology testing. (Toxicology reports can take weeks or months to complete.)

According to the Berkeley Police Department, Moore stopped breathing while under restraint after struggling with police.

According to a statement released Feb. 13, police said they were dispatched to the 2000 block of Allston Way for a mental health evaluation. Once there, they spoke with the reporting party, then were directed to Moore’s residence. (Media reports have identified Moore’s residence as the Gaia Building at 2116 Allston Way, but police have declined to confirm the exact location.)

“During the contact, the subject became increasingly agitated and uncooperative to the officer’s verbal commands and began to scream and violently resist. After struggling with officers they were able to gain control of the subject and place him in restraints. The subject continued to kick and scream at officers,” according to the statement.

Police said that, due to the man’s “large stature,” officers asked the Berkeley Fire Department for a gurney to help transport him “for further evaluation.” Police declined to release additional details about the man’s height or weight. “While under restraint officers determined the subject was not breathing and immediately began CPR,” according to the statement.

Last weekend, Berkeley Copwatch began raising concerns about the death, identifying the person who died as a transgendered woman of color. The group scheduled a meeting for last Monday, noting: “We need allies to come so we can … find out why a mental health call became lethal.”

Andrea Prichett, a founding member of the volunteer group, said Friday that members of Copwatch had interviewed residents in the same building as the person who died, who identified that person as a woman.

(The Berkeley Police Department and the Alameda County coroner’s office said they could not comment on whether the person who died may have been transgender.)

Prichett said the group is concerned with the “lack of information” provided by police, and said Copwatch has filed public records requests for the police report, name of the person who died and any identifying information, as well as information from the Department of Mental Health and the Berkeley Fire Department.

Prichett said the public deserves to know more about how authorities responded to the call, and how the person who died was restrained. She’d also like to know if police used pepper spray, or tried to begin with a “less aggressive interaction,” such as sending a mental health professional to Moore’s door rather than a uniformed police officer.

“We need an investigation so we can review Berkeley’s emergency crisis response to mental health issues,” said Prichett.

Berkeley Police Capt. Andrew Greenwood said Friday, via email, that police “have no further information to share at this time” because the “specific circumstances of the in-custody death are still under investigation.”

Greenwood pointed to the Police Department’s “long history of working with respect and sensitivity to mental health issues in our community and among people with whom we come into contact.” He said the department has “a positive reputation in community” for mental health-related interactions.

Greenwood also said the department has worked closely for more than 20 years with the city’s Mobile Crisis Team, which is part of Berkeley’s mental health division: “Through this close and frequent collaboration, our officers are well aware of the impact of mental health issues on the actions of people in our community.”

The department also is launching a new program to handle crisis response, which will be developed throughout the year, he said.

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  • guest

    “Andrea Pritchett, a founding member of the volunteer group, said Friday that members of Copwatch had interviewed residents in the same building as the person who died, who identified that person as a woman.”

    This information clearly violates the late Xavier Christopher Moore’s right to privacy. Anyone can legally use any name he or she desires. This individual seems by his choice of name to have determined to present as a man. Nothing else is relevant. If this is some attempt to claim that the police ought to have approached him differently based on some rumored gender status, it will be necessary to establish first that the “cops” knew about this claimed status and secondly that in light of that information they ought to have approached the person differently – somehow.

    “Pritchett said the group is concerned with the “lack of information” provided by police, and said Copwatch has filed public records requests for the police report, name of the person who died and any identifying information, as well as information from the Department of Mental Health and the Berkeley Fire Department.”

    What right does “Copwatch” have to the private health-related information on Mr. Moore?

    “Pritchett said the public deserves to know more about how authorities responded to the call, and how the person who died was restrained. She’d also like to know if police used pepper spray, or tried to begin with a “less aggressive interaction,” such as sending a mental health professional to Moore’s door rather than a uniformed police officer.”

    Why direct this query at the police? The officers presumably were dispatched and therefore were required to respond to the call for service. The City Manager and Council direct the police to respond to such calls and support their current push to train beat officers to handle mentally ill persons more effectively. Why not direct this query toward them?

    It would be a whole other thing if Ms. Pritchett raised the question of why anyone would ever send a police person to conduct a mental health evaluation. I haven’t ever freaked out to the extend that somebody called the police on me, but if I were that freaked out, I doubt that seeing multiple uniformed police officers would calm me down.

  • Paul Kealoha-Blake

    In response to Guest, I think any intervention of law enforcement that results in a death deserves careful scrutiny by the community. I note that this story has a little more information than the original BPD press release, however straight forward information, such as the individuals name and age… did not come from Berkeley Police Department but from the Alameda County Coroner.s Office. It would be very helpful if Chief Meehan would inform us as to the chronological chain of command on this “mental health” call. If the Police do not have the responsibility and authority to decide how a mental health call should be responded to.. who does… and who did? That is why the BPD is being asked these questions and not another organization or department.

    The Berkeley Police Department press release indicates it was a mental health call, If it was a mental health call was Berkeley Mental Health notified? Were CIT trained officers sent to the call? If not, why not.?

    Police Capt. Andrew Greenwood points to the Police Department’s “long history of working with respect and sensitivity to mental health issues in our community and among people with whom we come into contact.” He said the department has “a positive reputation in community” for mental health-related interactions.

    A sterling history of cooperation, however Police Capt. Andrew Greenwood still does not answer any question at all regarding this tragedy, or the Berkeley Police Department sending of two uniformed officers rather than contacting Berkeley Mental Health or sending CIT trained officers. It is possible that trained officers or mental health specialists may have had a different outcome. Did Berkeley Police contact Berkeley Mental Health? Did they send CIT trained officers to the call?

    In closing, as I read the bare bones stories and press release I am left to presume that it was not until speaking to the complainant that the officers even knew where the individual who died was living. So upon arrival apparently the individual who died was not in a highly aggressive condition and was in fact back in his own space and quiet. It was only after contact with two uniformed officers that the subject became “increasingly agitated and uncooperative to the officer’s verbal commands and began to scream and violently resist. After struggling with officers they were able to gain control of the subject and place him in restraints.”:

    That description appears in the BPD press release and it is very vague. SInce this contact resulted in a death I think it is certainly appropriate to ask many of the questions that Copwatch and community members like myself are asking.

    It is possible that we are not legally entitled to those answers, but we are certainly legally entitled to ask questions and to exercise our highest entitlement to any forthcoming answers.

    Paul Kealoha-Blake
    Commissioner,
    Berkeley Mental Health Commissioner

  • LETS C ACCOUNTABILITY

    Cause of death is very easily determend. If suspect/victim was apprended by mental health “professionals”/scum handed lab coats, then cause of death was most likely electrocution/’tazered’ (causing strokes and heart attack),excessive force and overdosing of whatever “medication” they happened not to like.If in “police” custody then cause of death was most likely electrocution/’tazered’ (causing strokes and heart attacks) with possible excessive force.Check victim for 2 equally spaced marks all over body{ranging in size from approximately 1/4 inch(easier to hide ‘tazers’) to 1 1/2 inches.Look also for older marks which possibley caused problem in first place for lots of people are to stupid to realize ‘tazers’ cause permanant brain damage and loss of coherant brain fuction. There is unfortunately a lot of stupid people out there using ‘tazers’ for “fun”,to maim people,to steal from people,and to kill without concequences. Also look for injection sites for these days the mental “health” scum know only to electrocute and forcefully inject with useless “medications”!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • PragmaticProgressive

    If you’re going to toss the “stupid” epithet around this much, please (a) get your facts straight; and (b) check your spelling and grammar. Because otherwise you sound kind of… stupid.

  • guest

    Hi Paul Kealoha-Blake:

    I appreciate your comments given the position that you occupy. I also am concerned by them. For example, “any intervention of law enforcement that results in a death deserves careful scrutiny by the community” suggests that you ascribe cause and effect to the police intervention and the demise of Mr. Moore. Why not wait to find out COD before assuming that the death resulted from something that the police did or didn’t do? After all, somebody who is not the police observed this person doing something that he or she deeded sufficiently troublesome to warrant emergency intervention.

    Of course, you cover this gap nicely by your assumptions. “I am left to presume that it was not until speaking to the complainant that the officers even knew where the individual who died was living. So upon arrival apparently the individual who died was not in a highly aggressive condition and was in fact back in his own space and quiet. It was only after contact with two uniformed officers that the subject became “increasingly agitated and uncooperative…” At least you accurately label your narrative for what it is – your assumptions based on scant (and possibly incorrect or misleading) information.

    As somebody who has complained to the police about a neighbor, I know that the police came first to me to gather information before approaching the person about whom I complained. This makes perfect sense, particularly since the police ought to evaluate me for credibility before acting on my complaint against another. Again, it seems best to wait for the facts to come out before rushing to judgment about what the police did or did not do.

    Your policy-level questions echo mine as to “the Berkeley Police Department sending of two uniformed officers rather than contacting Berkeley Mental Health or sending CIT trained officers. It is possible that trained officers or mental health specialists may
    have had a different outcome. Did Berkeley Police contact Berkeley Mental Health? Did they send CIT trained officers to the call?”

    Berkeley has its own Health Department as a matter of policy. Recognizing that this call was made after 11PM, one wonders whether that Department is continually staffed. Likewise, does BPD have one or more CITs available on every shift?

    BPD is required to make the same across-the-board cuts as any other department. Meanwhile, they have virtually no control of their workload and are asked to do more and more by the City. Add into that mix that the cutting tactic used by other city departments is unavailable to them. Can you imagine BPD shutting down on the same days as the City Clerk’s office, the Health Department, or the Permit Service Center?

    Hopefully, your Commission will take up these policy level issues and come up with ways to provide BPD (and other PDs) with resources adequate to carry out the responsibilities that are assign to them.

  • Guest

    Copwatch is like redneck racist trailer trash from the deep south, only they hate cops instead of black people.

  • bgal4

    Paul jumps past two points

    1. Autopsy results ( I suspect this death was primarily due to obesity )

    2. The mental health commission influences policies adopted by the Mental Health Dept regarding the practice of 5150 psych hold in Berkeley.

    I know this from direct experience. I followed the mental health crisis team recommendations from prior episodes only afterwards to learn that those recommendations would never work in Berkeley because limitations imposed by the Mental Health commission on the practice of psych hold.

    This was a drastically different experience compared to the process our family benefited from in Los Angeles, which was a respectful and practical partnership between the county psychiatrist, family, and police to transport a family member involuntarily for psychiatric care.

    Here I felt undermined and disconnected, yet I was the primary family member providing care. But lest we forgot, the Mental Health commission knows best, and of course so does CopWatch.

  • Paul Kealoha-Blake

    “suggests that you ascribe cause and effect to the police intervention and the demise of Mr. Moore.”

    I am absolutely not ascribing cause and effect to police intervention. I am asking questions.

    At least you accurately label your narrative for what it is – “your assumptions based on scant (and possibly incorrect or misleading) information.”

    Thank you for acknowledging the narrative is labeled properly. The information I use is contained in a release handed to me by Chief Michael Meehan at a Police Review Commission meeting. I agree that it may be incorrect or misleading or for that matter incomplete, which is why I have further questions. It is possible that we are not legally entitled to those answers, but we are certainly legally entitled to ask questions and to exercise our highest entitlement to any forthcoming answers.

    I also genuinely appreciate your hope that the Commission will take up these policy level issues. I share your hope, but as you might imagine the Commissions are only one component of a multi party discussion, and all parties are only as effective as the efforts of all parties. As a Commissioner I am always seeking community input and thought. I appreciate your comments. If you wish please feel free to contact me via email as well.

  • Paul Kealoha-Blake

    I appreciate your suspicions regarding the death. So using your suspicions are you saying that left alone he would have dropped dead from obesity that evening? You may be right, which is why I am asking questions. In this response and others I am sensing that respondents feel that our Police Department need your support and protection. Are you implying that I do not have the right to question the Police or inquire about the specifics regarding this mental health call? It is possible that I am not legally entitled to those answers, but I am certainly legally entitled to ask questions and to exercise my highest entitlement to any forthcoming answers. Your answers sarcastically referencing your Mental Health Commission and Copwatch add nothing to this dialogue other than the exercise of your freedom to speak with a faux authority based on your illogical and rhetorical responses. By doing so you abdicate your opportunity to sincerely add to an important dialogue in our community. I encourage you to participate at a higher level of engagement.

  • John_Smith

    “During the contact, the subject became increasingly agitated and uncooperative to the officer’s verbal commands and began to scream and violently resist. After struggling with officers they were able to gain control of the subject and place him in restraints. The subject continued to kick and scream at officers,” according to the statement.

    I am confused by the above narrative. Since when is anyone compelled to obey a police officer’s commands? The person was in his own home, ordered to step out of his home, and apparently ordered to do something else to which he objected. Anyone can call the police, say something about someone, and that someone is then subject to being ordered about by the police? And if that someone chooses not to obey orders from the police, to whom he or her has at no time pledged to obey, the police can legally physically attack and restrain (and in this particular case kill) them?

  • http://twitter.com/Pappachoppers Pappachoppers

    Your statement is an outstanding example of abusive ad hominem.

  • Guest

    It’s interesting how you completely gloss over bgal’s critique of the MHD vis-a-vis Section 5150 holds, while accusing bgal of failing to engage.

  • The_Sharkey

    No. If the Police arrive and question you and ascertain that the call was in error, they won’t do anything. However if you say something or act in a way that gives them reason to believe that you are a threat to yourself or others, they can take you into custody for a mental health evaluation.
    Obese people who over-exert themselves can die from just dancing to a YouTube video. If you’re going to blame the Police for this man/woman dying, do you also blame Psy for that British man’s death?

  • John_Smith

    Who’s Psy and what British man?

  • The_Sharkey

    I had a link in my comment, but I guess it’s not showing up for everyone.
    Here you go:

    http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/12/13/man-dies-heart-attack-after-dancing-to-gangnam-style/

  • John_Smith

    I think of Cop Watch as you and me. If we observe police keeping the peace, we tell people, and vice versa.

  • bgal4

    I did not suggest any suspicion regarding the cause of death.

  • bgal4

    Exactly. typical but interesting twisting of my thoughts and feelings. Believe me, not a day goes by in my life when I am not aware of the challenges of mental illness and its profound impact on families. and I was operating at a higher level of engagement, especially with my direct criticism of CopWatch.

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    ” Are you implying that I do not have the right to question the Police or
    inquire about the specifics regarding this mental health call?”

    Where in the world do you get that idea? She talked about what she thinks are bad policies supported by the Mental Health Commission. She never said anything about your right to speak.

    But maybe you have to change the subject by defending your freedom of speech, because you cannot defend your policies.

  • Paul Kealoha-Blake

    bgal states: 1. Autopsy results ( I suspect this death was primarily due to obesity )

  • bgal4

    Based on the data collected on deaths in custody and the BPD HIPAA compliant descriptor re: victim size- large stature.

    not a suspicion, but a deduction based on available information.

  • Paul Kealoha-Blake

    I am not sure what you refer to Guest however Berkeley Mental Health Commission absolutely does not set policy regarding 5150’s. in fact BMHC can make suggestions regarding policy, but I assure you that any influence is a challenge to be acknowledged or acted on. If you wish to address the Commission or perhaps specifically me, regarding how your Commission can be a better contributor to your concerns please attend public comment at Commission meetings. Or as I have offered earlier, feel free to contact me specifically through email. I remain with many unanswered questions regarding the death of Xavier Christopher Moore. If you feel I am not asking relevant questions please share your questions and I will try to ask those questions. Any efforts by any respondents on this thread to imply or state that I am somehow being unfair or unbalanced in my attempt to present questions with the expectation of a clear and straight forward answers will be met with an open mind by me. It is possible that we are not legally entitled to those answers, but we are certainly legally entitled to ask questions and to exercise our highest entitlement to any forthcoming answers.

  • Paul Kealoha-Blake

    bgal4, should I consider this another suspicion or should I consider this as the COD? I am not attempting to dismiss your comment, only to clarify. I appreciate your research, based on that research.. should we declare the cause of death to be related to obesity and having no connection to mental health or contact and restraint? Please try to answer without more speculation. Both you and I are seeking answers. I applaud your efforts at research in an effort to seek answers. Additionally I believe your statement of having experience with 5150’s and I am sorry for your experience. 5150’s are traumatic experiences for all involved. Most individuals who are connected to a 5150 have had to face that trauma more than once, either as the principle or as an involved party. In either case it is a very challenging and soul wrenching experience. You have my sympathy and my ear to hear of your particular experience and how you feel the 5150 process can be made better.

  • bgal4

    Your two first sentences contradict one another.

    I was told of the commission’s influence regarding 5150 practice by both the MHD director and the supervisor of the Mobile Crisis team in discussions Dec 2010.

    How long have you been on the commission? What expertise do you have in mental health or public health issues.

  • I’m Jes’ Sayin’

    Nobody in this conversation is going to determine COD.

  • bgal4

    the autopsy will provide medical evidence for COD, the rest is speculation.

    However, data shows that a considerable amount of deaths in custody in which breathing stops is due to medical problems associated with obesity. I did not research this I have read it in news stories over the years.

    I doubt we will agree much on mental health matters, I am pro Laura’s Law, I strongly believe that involuntary confinement and conservator laws need revision to favor family involvement in determining status. When we forced our father into the psych hospital due to alcohol psychosis, within a few weeks he died from a combination of medical conditions and breathing problems caused by the over-medicating with sedative. We did not sue or blame the psych hospital. We fought the medical hospital to allow him to die with dignity. We opposed medical interventions arguing no quality of life due to the late stages of alcohol psychosis.

    One of my brother is bi-polar, he was arrested a dozens times before he became med complicated, he is now a certified peer counselor. He is so serious about medication management he maintains daily mood charts, data he uses for medical care. I intervened via phone with the DA and sheriffs dept in another state and found law enforcement open minded despite the culture and lack of mental health care in a conservative rural area.

    All in all, I suspect you would think I was without compassion for the mentally ill. When in fact, I am a realist.

  • Paul Kealoha-Blake

    bgal4: You continue to mention the Commission’s influence regarding 5150’s can you please be more specific? What influence and what policy are you stating was imposed by BMHC over the Mental Health Department or the supervisor of the Mobile Crisis team? In an earlier post you ask that you be believed regarding your experience with the challenges of mental illness and its profound impact on families. I do believe you… and I do not take any of your experiences lightly. 5150’s can be traumatic for all parties involved in the action. The police realize that they are taking on tremendous responsibility for an individuals well being. They hold the authority begin a process that may have profound implications for an individuals life. The individual themselves are at risk of involuntarily being committed to hospitalization that they do not wish to be subject to. Friends or relatives are sometimes the only buffer that exists for the individual subjected to a 5150. It is an emotionally wrenching experience for all parties. I am always open to hearing any feedback that our community has regarding 5150’s including yours. It is in part because I know that mental health calls can be very complex transactions, that I am seeking answers regarding Xavier Moore’s death. If you also have questions I urge you to join me in seeking answers to your questions. It is possible that we are not legally entitled to those answers, but we are certainly legally entitled to ask questions and to exercise our highest entitlement to any forthcoming answers. I am a single Commissioner, however I absolutely want to hear your concerns. In this thread I have tried to determine what your concerns are, but I admit to still not knowing what point you are trying to make with me.

  • bgal4

    Any further discussion beyond the bits of personal information I have exposed would have to take place in conversation not email or internet blog. Glad to learn how open minded you are. The complexity you refer to have more to do with how we fund and treat mental health, which has not caught you with the medical science.

  • guest

    Disingenuous Sharkey.
    There is a difference between freely choosing to dance to a video and being forcibly restrained.
    This man died while being restrained by police.

  • The_Sharkey

    Obviously. I’m making a point about how out of shape people who over-exert themselves can die as a result of low-level, non-violent physical activity.

    But what the hell do you want the Police to do? If they get sent out on a psych call and the individual appears to be a danger to themselves or others, should they just walk away rather than try to bring them in for a mental evaluation hold? If they resist, should the Police just leave, and would you be willing to accept the individual’s suicide or violent attack on someone else without complaint?