Author Archives: Emilie Raguso

Crime

Crime in Berkeley: Head-butt battery, lost quadcopter, donut theft, ‘intent to inhale’ arrest, 19 stolen vehicles

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Share photos, videos and tips by emailing crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook and TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

SNAPSHOT From April 21-27, there were reports of seven robberiesnine burglaries13 assaults or batteriesfive weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com and other BPD data. There were also 19 stolen vehicles12 disturbances and 28 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. One assault was reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD); we’ve filled out the blotter with tidbits from the UCPD crime log. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find our April 21-27 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

A 20-year-old UC Berkeley student reported at 2:39 a.m. April 29 being the victim of extortion via the internet, UCPD said.

Someone stole a $2,000 Zeiss microscope lens from Hildebrande Hall. It was reported to UCPD on May 5 at 1:32 p.m.

BPD announced that its jail booking and arrest logs are now available to the public via the city of Berkeley’s open data portal. The portal, which went live about a year ago, makes various city data accessible to the public for analysis. (Read more about the portal in past Berkeleyside coverage.) BPD says “This open data portal will offer greater transparency by allowing members of the community the ability to look at both arrest and booking data over a 30 day period. Read the full Nixle alert. … Continue reading »

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Government

DOJ threatens lawsuit over Berkeley post office

Post Office Inspectors cleared protesters from the steps after nearly 17 months. Photo: Lance Knobel
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In a strongly worded letter, the U.S. Department of Justice has warned the city of Berkeley that a lawsuit could be coming over the city’s “interference” with USPS plans to sell its downtown post office on Allston Way.

The DOJ’s Civil Division sent the letter — stamped April 28 — to Mayor Tom Bates, and asked for a response by May 20 if the city hopes to resolve the issue without litigation.

Read more about the fight surrounding the downtown Berkeley post office.

According to the letter, from Director Joseph Hunt of the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division, the city’s downtown historic overlay is the issue. The overlay restricts a nine-parcel section of the downtown to civic, non-profit uses. The main Berkeley post office, at 2000 Allston Way, falls within those boundaries.

“In purporting to restrict the Berkeley Post Office parcel… to such civic or nonprofit uses, the Ordinance prohibits any commercially viable uses for the Property,” Hunt writes. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

Man takes plea after beating 2 with bat at Berkeley frat

Police police cars outside the fraternity where a 20-year-old was found dead Nov. 9. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two years after being charged with attempted murder in connection with the beating with a metal bat of a pair of UC Berkeley students, an Oakland man has entered dual “no contest” pleas for assault with a deadly weapon.

Frank Paul Watson, 25, was arrested after the attack on April 27, 2014, which left two members of the Zeta Psi fraternity with significant injuries. Both were struck once in the head with the metal bat. One of the young men, Thayer White, suffered a traumatic brain injury. The other ended up needing reconstructive surgery to repair injuries to his face and jaw.

According to court papers, witnesses testified during the preliminary hearing — in December 2014 — that there had been a party that night at Zeta Psi, 2728 Bancroft Way. The party started Saturday night, April 26, and carried on into the early morning of Sunday. Three fraternity brothers, including the one who needed reconstructive surgery, testified about their memories of that night.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Guilty verdicts in Berkeley-Oakland death penalty case

Alaysha Carradine, 8, and Anthony "Tone" Medearis, 22, were both killed in fatal shootings in 2013. Photos: Courtesy of family
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After nearly a month of testimony, followed by less than two full days of deliberations, an Alameda County jury brought back a series of guilty verdicts Friday afternoon in connection with two fatal shootings in 2013 that took the lives of an 8-year-old girl at an Oakland sleepover and a 22-year-old Berkeley father.

Scroll down for videos of family members reacting to the verdicts.

The jury found Darnell Williams Jr. guilty of all nine counts against him, including two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. The guilty verdicts included three special circumstances — lying in wait, murder during the course of a robbery or attempted robbery, and multiple murders — that made the case eligible for the death penalty.

The jury is set to return May 16 to hear additional information from attorneys and consider the sentence in the case. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: 9 robberies in 2 days, video of restaurant robbery, armored van grant, fall from frat roof

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Share photos, videos and tips by emailing crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook and TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

From April 14-20, there were reports of 12 robberies18 burglaries20 assaults or batteriesfive weapon-involved calls and three sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com and other BPD data. There were also six stolen vehicles15 disturbances and 19 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. No significant incidents were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD), so we’ve filled out the blotter with tidbits from the UCPD crime log. Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find our April 14-20 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

PEOPLE’S PARK PATROL AND MORE UCPD appears to have been doing some proactive patrols at People’s Park between about 6:50 and 8 p.m. April 21. Two officers handled a handful of calls involving marijuana, smoking violations, disturbing the peace, an open container and a welfare check. The officers spoke to about six men and one woman at the park about various violations but no arrests were made. On a side note, an hour or so later, at 9:20 p.m., one of those officers handled a suspicious circumstance at Wurster Hall “regarding the display of an art project.”

HATE INCIDENT UCPD responded to the Moffitt Library men’s bathroom April 25 after a 25-year-old male student reported a “hate incident involving vandalism.” The case is under investigation.

VANDALISM VIA MARKER UCPD is looking into a vandalism “via marker” to six UC vehicles at Edwards Stadium between April 29 and May 2.  … Continue reading »

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Real estate

91 units over underground parking proposed on San Pablo

2100 San Pablo Ave. could one day look like this. Image: RGArchitecture
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Spirit Residential is planning to build 91 new apartments over an underground parking garage on San Pablo Avenue just south of Addison Street in West Berkeley.

A U-Haul rental outlet used to operate there but is no longer in business, according to a U-Haul rep reached by phone.

“The project will include demolition of two small existing buildings previously used as a U-Haul truck rental facility, which was forced to close after extensive City of Berkeley enforcement actions due to neighborhood impacts,” according to project materials.

See more real estate news on Berkeleyside.

The 5-story 2100 San Pablo Ave. project — just south of the Mi Tierra Foods market on Addison — was submitted to the city Feb. 16 by Mark Rhoades, who is representing San Anselmo-based Spirit Residential.

Four ground-floor live-work units and three retail and café spaces, which could be combined into one, will have four stories of apartments overhead. Rhoades said the project is unique for how far it is slated to be set back from nearby neighbors, from 40 to 60 feet away in most areas. The setback is often an area of contention during the permitting process. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man held to answer in Berkeley murder, carjacking case

A 2011 photograph of Kamau Berlin. Source: Facebook
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A 20-year-old man accused of murder with special circumstances was ordered Wednesday morning by an Alameda County Superior Court judge to face nearly all of the charges filed against him as the case moves ahead to trial.

 dismissed one count and one special circumstance related to rape allegations, and said the prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to support those charges.

Kamau Berlin, who was a student at Berkeley Technology Academy at the time of his arrest, was ordered to return to court May 18 for arraignment as the case proceeds. He will continue to be held without bail, Burgess said.

Berlin told his mother he had just needed a ride home the day he was arrested near the car where 72-year-old Nancy McClellan was found bleeding from the neck due to a stab wound. Police testified that, when his mother insisted during a jailhouse interview that he tell her the truth of what had happened, he said he had seen a woman in a car, started hitting her to get her out of the car, and then threw her into the backseat.

He also mentioned to his mother having used brass knuckles during the attack, which ultimately helped police track down the murder weapon in the days after Berlin’s arrest.

At the time of his arrest, in September 2014, he told police a red substance on him that looked like blood was actually “fake blood for Halloween.” … Continue reading »

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Crime

Attorneys spar over evidence in death penalty case

Relatives and friends of Anthony Medearis III mourned at the site of his shooting on Thursday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A trail of 15 cartridge casings led from the scene of a dice game in West Berkeley toward the corner where Anthony “Tone” Medearis III was struck by a bullet, fatally, in the back.

The 22-year-old was running for his life and pleading for mercy as his killer followed behind him, walking, as he fired his gun over and over. It was Sept. 8, 2013, at about 5:40 p.m.

Two witnesses, including his own 7-year-old nephew, identified Darnell Williams Jr. as the shooter. Williams of Berkeley is facing murder charges for Medearis’ death, and what authorities have described as the retribution killing less than two months earlier of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at a sleepover in Oakland.

Read complete coverage of the case.

Closing arguments took place Monday and Tuesday, as prosecutor John Brouhard walked the jury through his evidence, and Williams’ defense team urged jurors to question that evidence and keep their emotions in check.

“Means, motive and opportunity,” said defense attorney Darryl Billups. “I question all three of those things and I think the evidence raises an alternative to what the DA is alleging happened.”

After final instructions from Judge Jeffrey Horner, which are scheduled to conclude Wednesday morning, the jury is expected to begin deliberations in what could result in a death penalty sentence. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Closing arguments begin in Berkeley-Oakland death penalty case: ‘Alaysha saw her killer’ and he saw her

Rene C. Davidson Courthouse. Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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After four weeks in trial, with 13 days of testimony and 36 witnesses, prosecutor John Brouhard began his closing arguments Monday in the double homicide case that could result in the death penalty for Darnell Williams Jr. if the jury finds him guilty.

Williams, 25, has been charged with eight felonies and several special circumstances in connection with the fatal shootings in 2013 of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine in Oakland and 22-year-old Anthony “Tone” Medearis III in Berkeley less than two months later.

“This defendant is committed to what he calls street justice,” Brouhard told the jury. He described how, bent on “retribution and revenge” after the killing of his friend Jermaine “Third” Davis in Berkeley, Williams set out to get back at the person he believed was responsible.

“He’s not grieving the death of his friend, he is preparing for war,” Brouhard told the jury. “He lured three children to a door and then he unleashed a barrage of gunfire when they least expected it.”

It was an emotional day for relatives of Alaysha and Medearis, as Brouhard described in detail the killings, played video from an officer’s body cam and flashed autopsy photographs on screens as part of his elaborate presentation. At one point, he set up a timer in front of jurors to illustrate just how long 3 minutes and 15 seconds could be: the time, he said, between when Williams’ phone had pinged off a tower near the apartment where Alaysha had been a guest at a sleepover, and the time the first 911 call about her shooting came in. … Continue reading »

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Emerson Elementary student finds gun, takes it to school

A classroom at Emerson Elementary in Berkeley (file photo). Photo: BUSD
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An Emerson Elementary student in Berkeley found a loaded gun and took it to school Monday, authorities have reported.

According to the Berkeley Police Department, an Emerson teacher discovered the student with the handgun. Staff took possession of the gun and called police to turn it in, said Lt. Dan Montgomery of BPD.

Montgomery said officers later responded to the boy’s home to learn more from him and his parents, “In large part to check on the safety and welfare of the child and to make sure there was no threat of violence in the future at the school.”

The boy told police he found the gun “near a neighborhood school while in the company of cousins.” Continue reading »

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Crime

Man charged after lewd acts with 5-year-old in Berkeley

Image via Facebook
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A worker at a Berkeley home has been charged with four felony sex crimes after the child of a cleaning woman at that home said he touched her inappropriately.

The 5-year-old girl told her mother what had happened and, the next day, told a trained interviewer of children that he had touched her once before, too.

On April 5, according to court papers, the girl was at a home in South Berkeley where her mother was working as a house cleaner.

She told her mother that “the ‘man in the hat’ just touched her vagina and buttocks,” police wrote in court documents.

The woman told police there was only one man in the home who generally wore a hat, and who her daughter identified as such. The mother later identified that man to police during a photo line-up. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Crime in Berkeley: Jaywalkers beware, flyaway drone damage, pilfered postage stamps, found ammo, more

Police say this Ford was used in Monday's robbery. Photo: BPD
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Share photos, videos and tips by emailing crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook and TwitterDon’t assume someone else will alert us. We rely on readers to help us stay informed.

From April 7-13, there were reports of eight robberies10 burglaries20 assaults or batteriesno weapon-involved calls and no sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 12 stolen vehicles16 disturbances and 29 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Two sex crimes were reported to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals in this blotter are presumed innocent. Find our April 7-13 round-up below.

Recent public safety news

2 BOTCHED CAR THEFT ATTEMPTS AT BART A thief tried to steal a maroon 1994 Toyota Corolla while it was parked at the North Berkeley BART station between 4:15 a.m. and 9:45 p.m. April 14. The driver’s door lock and ignition were damaged. The same day, someone tried to steal another 1994 Toyota Corolla from the station between 8 a.m. and 6:40 p.m. The ignition wires were cut and the ignition switch was damaged.

STOLEN CROSS Someone stole a 12-inch brass crucifix worth $40 from 2223 Fulton, room H, sometime between March 10 and April 15, UCPD reported. It’s under investigation.

DRONE DAMAGE A security officer at the Doe Library on the UC Berkeley campus reported “damage to roof tiles caused by a fly away drone” April 20 at 5 p.m. The drone owner is listed as a 22-year-old male student. It’s under investigation, UCPD reports.

COFFEE COMMOTION? A female student reported being the victim of “battery via coffee” at about 10 a.m. Thursday, April 21, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building on campus. A man in his 60s wearing brown clothing was reported to be the culprit. No further information was provided.

STEPPED UP TRAFFIC SAFETY ENFORCEMENT BPD plans to “step up pedestrian safety enforcement operations” Friday, April 29, with a focus on “pedestrian safety and collision causing factors involving motorists and pedestrians,” the department reported earlier this week. Police also said there will be more motorcycle officers on duty through June 31 “conducting enforcement and educational efforts based on data from prior collisions.” … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley student arrested after fraternity rape report

The Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house on Piedmont Avenue
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Update, 4 p.m. The district attorney’s office declined to file charges in the case. According to office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick, “Based upon a review of the evidence presented by the Berkeley Police Department, we have declined to file criminal charges.” Berkeleyside removed the student’s name, and several identifying details, in light of this new information.

Original story, 7 a.m. Authorities have arrested a 20-year-old UC Berkeley student on suspicion of rape in connection with a case from earlier this year reported to have taken place at a fraternity party near campus.

The Berkeley Police Department arrested the young man at 7 a.m. Thursday after serving a search warrant at his fraternity house at 2395 Piedmont Ave., at Channing Way, authorities said.

UCPD identifies that location as Phi Gamma Delta, a fraternity that is not officially recognized by the CalGreeks organization.

Sgt. Andrew Frankel, BPD spokesman, said the arrest was in connection with “an on-going sexual assault investigation.”

According to a statement released by UCPD on Feb. 22, the victim had attended a party at a fraternity house in the 2300 block of Piedmont three days earlier, on Friday, Feb. 19. The sexual assault took place between midnight and 12:45 a.m. Saturday in a room at the fraternity, which was not named.

According to the UCPD statement, “a report was made to a Campus Security Authority who is required under the Federal Clery Act to report it to the campus Clery Compliance Officer. UCPD is in turn required to alert our community of the crime.” … Continue reading »

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