Berkeley Police release statement on in-custody death

Photo: Kaia Diringer

The Berkeley Police Department released the following statement Wednesday night regarding the death in custody earlier this month of 41-year-old Xavier Christopher Moore. Three community groups have planned a press conference for Thursday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m. to express concerns about the death and ask for more information. (Scroll down for details.) Moore’s stepmother, Elysse Paige-Moore, told Berkeleyside that “it’s been a horrible, horrible time for the family, really quite devastating. My husband and daughter have gone through an extraordinary level of grief. This has been a 40-year battle to protect my child who has serious biologic mental health problems.” She also expressed remorse that “the laws didn’t allow us to do more to care for and protect him.”

BERKELEY POLICE STATEMENT ON XAVIER MOORE
(REPRINTED IN ITS ENTIRETY)

We received some additional inquiries regarding the recent death of a person during contact with our officers. Though we are limited in terms of sharing specific details of this ongoing investigation, we wanted to offer some context where we can, as hopefully this may be of some use to you.

We understand the community’s concern over this incident, and the desire to have as much information about this incident as possible.


As you may know, any investigation involving a death such as this includes thorough and detailed interviews with all witnesses and involved parties, the collection and analysis of all available evidence, and preparation of appropriate reports. The Alameda County Coroner’s office is conducting their concurrent death investigation as well.

There are significant constraints in place regarding the immediate release of information in a case such as this, and we can’t comment on specific information or even address inaccuracies which may be expressed in public discussion regarding this incident.

The Berkeley Police Department has a long history of working with respect and sensitivity to mental health issues in our community and among people with whom we come into contact. Our department has a positive reputation in the community for its interactions with mental health consumers.

Furthermore, we are increasing our level of service and expertise in this area through our Department’s new Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program. This program is based on a national, best-practices model for police interactions with people with mental health issues. These training efforts, and the expansion of the program, are continuing throughout the year.

A thorough investigation takes time. We are obliged to wait for the evidence to be examined, the facts to be determined, and the investigation to be completed.


We are committed to conducting a sensitive and thorough investigation, fair to everyone involved, from the family and friends of the decedent, to the officers and firefighters who tried to save the decedent’s life.

STATEMENT FROM COMMUNITY GROUPS ABOUT DEATH IN POLICE CUSTODY
(REPRINTED IN ITS ENTIRETY)

Who: Coalition For a Safe Berkeley, Berkeley Copwatch, Amnesty International UCB Chapter
What: Press Conference
Where: 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley
When: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 10 a.m.

As details of the tragic death of 41 year old Berkeley resident Xavier Christopher Moore in police custody begin to emerge, residents are asking why this person died and why police are slow to release information in this case.

According to Berkeley Police, officers were dispatched for a mental health evaluation at about 11:50 pm on February 12, 2013, although neighbors on the same floor heard no disturbance until the police arrived.


After officers appeared at Moore’s residence the situation escalated, and shortly thereafter Moore died in police custody. Neighbors observed officers carrying Moore on a gurney, unconscious and in restraints, out of the building. In a city that is known internationally for disability awareness, social consciousness and protection of civil liberties, it is unacceptable that a mental health evaluation should end in death.

We are calling on advocates and individuals in the mental health community, civil and human rights, anti-racism and LGBTQ rights communities to demand answers from the City of Berkeley as to what happened that night. If misconduct has occurred, officers must be disciplined. If it was a failure of policy and administration, the public must be allowed to analyze the case and to assist in addressing this breakdown in city services. In any case, we demand that the Berkeley Police Department comply with Public Records Act requests and that they make information about that night’s events available to the public as quickly as possible.

Related:
Name released after death in custody, cause unknown [02.22.13]
Man dies after struggle with Berkeley Police [02.13.13]

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