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