Category Archives: Police
This weekend, Berkeley firefighters are raising money for muscular dystrophy research, and Berkeley police are collecting donations for holiday turkey baskets for those in need.
Firefighters, out Friday on College Avenue until dark, plan to be out Saturday too, at Piedmont Avenue and Bancroft Way from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., prior to the kickoff for the annual “big game” between the UC Berkeley and Stanford University football teams.
It’s the first year the Berkeley Firefighters Association, Local 1227, has done a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy research through a “Fill the boot” campaign.
The Berkeley Police Association will continue a long tradition with its annual turkey basket fundraiser “to get full turkey dinners into the homes of Berkeley’s most vulnerable families and seniors this holiday season.”
Police “will collect, assemble and distribute these ready to cook baskets to our community for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’re hoping to reach our goal quickly to allow time for shopping for the fixin’s! Please help us to reach our goal, and spread some holiday cheer.” … Continue reading »
Update, Nov. 15, 1:56 p.m. BFD has confirmed that a male cyclist who was not wearing a helmet was struck by a car Monday night. He “had a possible significant injury,” authorities said. The Berkeley Fire Department took him to the hospital.
BPD said the cyclist “was conscious and alert” after the crash. Berkeleyside will attempt to learn more.
Original post, Nov. 14, 8:47 p.m. Berkeleyside is getting reports of a crash involving a cyclist and vehicle shortly after 8 p.m. at University and McGee avenues in central Berkeley.
“One victim, presumably the bicyclist, on way to hospital. Don’t know how serious. I was just nearby when sirens filled the air,” one reader told Berkeleyside at 8:10 p.m.
The cyclist was reportedly taken to Highland Hospital.
Another reader said the crash took place on westbound University just east of McGee. … Continue reading »
Five people were taken to Highland Hospital on Thursday after a crash involving two or three vehicles in North Berkeley, authorities report.
According to Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel, one vehicle hit the other and pushed it into a tree. Two vehicles are being towed from the scene, he said.
The crash took place at Marin and Shattuck avenues shortly before 12:20 p.m.
Frankel said four ambulances were dispatched and two people were taken to Highland Hospital, the regional trauma center in Oakland, according to preliminary reports.
Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said the crash involved three vehicles, and that five people were taken to Highland. … Continue reading »
A 16-year-old girl who “frequents Berkeley” but was last seen in Richmond has been missing since earlier this week and police are trying to find her, authorities report.
Luciana “Lucy” Castle is 5 foot 5 and 120 pounds, according to a Nixle alert BPD sent out Friday. Information about the clothing she was wearing was not known.
BPD became aware of the case Thursday when Lucy’s mother showed up at the station to report the missing girl.
A KRON-4 reporter who was there to interview police about another matter spoke with the family and was the first to share the news. According to a KRON-4 report from Thursday, the girl goes by the name “Lucy” and was last seen Tuesday at 2 a.m.
“She left her house while her mother was at home and has not been at school, the mother said,” according to KRON-4. “She last contacted a friend on Snapchat, saying she was safe in Albany, according to her mother. There has been no response since then.”
Lucy has dark brown hair, brown eyes and fair skin.
Police ask anyone with information to call investigators, either the Contra Costa County sheriff’s office at 925-646-2441, or Berkeley Police Detective Darren Kacalek at 510-981-5900. … Continue reading »
A U.S. District Court judge has rejected the majority of a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Berkeley that criticized the way police officers handled a 2013 call involving a transgender woman in a mental health crisis.
The woman, 41-year-old Kayla Moore, stopped breathing and died after police struggled with her to take her into custody. The family filed a lawsuit in 2014 taking issue with the police response, alleging excessive force and unfair treatment because Moore was transgender.
Monday, about 50 supporters of the wrongful death suit rallied outside the Phillip Burton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco and pledged to continue the fight. A hearing had been scheduled for Monday where attorneys for the family believed they would be able to present arguments, but those plans changed abruptly Friday when Judge Charles R. Breyer issued a ruling that threw out the bulk of the suit.
Read complete background on the case.
The city of Berkeley filed a motion for summary judgment in June essentially arguing that the family had neither the evidence nor the facts to back up the wrongful death suit. The city says officers used “minimal force” and have “qualified immunity” under the law as to the force they did use.
Friday, Breyer issued a ruling agreeing with much of the city’s argument.
He said officers were essentially justified in trying to take Moore into custody — because she “was clearly in the midst of a paranoid schizophrenic mental health crisis,” according to a police officer’s deposition — and that there was no evidence officers used unreasonable force when she struggled during detention. … Continue reading »
Update, Thursday, 1:30 p.m. BPD is looking for witnesses to the crash. Authorities ask anyone who saw the collision to call Sgt. Emily Murphy at 510-981-5982 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cyclist remains in the Intensive Care Unit, BPD reports.
Update, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m. The cyclist, a 25-year-old Berkeley man, remains in the ICU, authorities report. (Berkeley Police originally erroneously told Berkeleyside the cyclist was a woman.)
Update, 8 p.m. BPD traffic investigators have left the scene.
Update, 6:50 p.m. Berkeley investigators remain on Sacramento Street working to document the scene after a crash earlier Tuesday that caused serious injuries to a cyclist. Several blocks of northbound Sacramento remain closed. … Continue reading »
City seeks rejection of wrongful death lawsuit against police; celebrity pathologist disputes cause of death
Attorneys for the city of Berkeley have asked a U.S. District Court judge to reject a wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2014 by the father of a transgender woman who died in police custody in 2013.
Representatives for both parties are expected to appear in court Friday morning at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco. If the case moves ahead, the trial itself has been scheduled to begin Oct. 17, according to materials from lawsuit supporters.
Kayla Moore, a 41-year-old Berkeley resident, was in her Allston Way apartment Feb. 12, 2013, when police responded to a disturbance call there, authorities have said. She stopped breathing during a struggle as officers tried to detain her. The Alameda County coroner’s office said Moore — whose given name was Xavier — died due to “acute combined drug intoxication” and pre-existing medical conditions, and ruled her death an accident.
The city filed a motion for summary judgment in June essentially arguing that the family has neither the evidence nor the facts to back up the wrongful death suit. The city says officers used “minimal force” and have “qualified immunity” under the law as to the force they did use.
Oakland attorney John Burris, whose firm is representing Kayla’s father, Arthur Moore, has argued police had no cause to arrest Moore and “used unreasonable force” during the arrest.
To bolster the case, Burris has filed a declaration by Dr. Werner Spitz, a forensic pathologist who has worked on a variety of high-profile cases in recent decades. Spitz said restraint by the officers made it difficult for Moore to breathe and contributed to her death. … Continue reading »
Berkeley Police Department to focus on staffing, will ‘take a collective deep breath’ under new chief
In the wake of the abrupt departure Tuesday of Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan, Acting Chief Andrew Greenwood says his short-term goals are to hire more officers and keep the department focused on the future.
“Calm, steady, forward movement is the way to go,” Greenwood told the city’s Police Review Commission on Wednesday night. “That’s kind of where I’m at.”
Greenwood was at the PRC meeting to give the regularly scheduled chief’s report and discuss the mid-year crime report, but the first topic that came up when the meeting began was Meehan’s sudden departure, announced Wednesday, and what will happen next.
Commission Chair George Perezvelez called Meehan’s resignation the elephant in the room, and noted that the leadership change — which put Berkeley native Greenwood at the helm — is “effective immediately.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley authorities were on alert Wednesday afternoon after a suspicious package appeared at the Public Safety Building, which houses the police and fire departments, authorities said.
The Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Team and the Police Department’s Bomb Squad were sent to investigate the package, said Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken, at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
A “shelter in place” order was put into effect for building occupants when the package was discovered shortly before 4:20 p.m.
Authorities shut down the sidewalk and a southbound traffic lane on Martin Luther King Jr. Way from Addison Street down to Allston Way during the investigation. One lane of southbound traffic remained open for vehicles. … Continue reading »
Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan has resigned following reports surfaced by Berkeleyside last month of turmoil within the department and extensive criticism by officers of the chief.
Meehan resigned after nearly seven years, and Capt. Andrew Greenwood will now take the helm of the department as acting chief, according to a memo from the city manager to the Berkeley City Council dated Wednesday, Sept. 21. Greenwood, a Berkeley native, has been at BPD for 31 years. (Scroll down to see the memo.)
No explanation has been provided as to the reason for Meehan’s departure. He lives in Berkeley with his family and has a son in Berkeley schools. Many thought he would continue in his role as chief until retirement, despite the recent criticism.
Greenwood said Wednesday the resignation “came as a complete surprise” to him, and that it had been a “whirlwind five hours of figuring out” all of the logistics of the transfer of command.
“I’m sure it was a really difficult decision for him and his family,” he said. “I was asked yesterday afternoon if I would be acting chief and I agreed to.”
It is unclear exactly when Meehan put in his resignation, but he was not present for the six-month crime report to the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday evening, and no city officials asked where he was. It’s a significant meeting that he has rarely, if ever, missed in the past.
Just after 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Meehan posted his resignation letter on Twitter.
“While there is no good time to leave an organization you have such respect and admiration for, there is a right time and I believe, after discussing with my family, the time is now,” he wrote. See the full letter below.
On Twitter, Meehan wrote, “Thank you Berkeley! It has been an honor. My family and I are grateful.” … Continue reading »
Berkeley police spent three hours Monday negotiating with a man who had locked himself in his family’s apartment in the 1500 block of Prince Street after threatening to kill officers and harm his mother and brother.
The subject eventually surrendered and he was taken to a medical facility on an emergency psychiatric hold, according to police. Charges may be pending, according to a Berkeley Police Department Nixle alert.
Police received a 911 call at 10:22 a.m. from the mother of the subject. “The reporting party stated she locked herself in the bedroom because her 34-year old son had been smoking drugs and that he was making threats towards her and her older son,” according to police. … Continue reading »
A car crash in West Berkeley on Saturday morning caused moderate injuries for three motorists, authorities report.
The Berkeley Police Department said two vehicles were involved in the crash, which took place at San Pablo Avenue and Addison Street shortly before 8:40 a.m.
BPD and the Berkeley Fire Department responded.
One of the vehicles went into a building, said Lt. Andrew Rateaver, BPD watch commander, and caused minor damage.
All three of the injured parties were taken to the hospital for treatment. … Continue reading »
More than six years after taking the helm of the Berkeley Police Department, Chief Michael Meehan is facing serious criticism from within his own ranks, according to two internal emails he sent to employees earlier this month and numerous interviews with BPD staffers.
The criticisms focus on weak leadership, low morale, insufficient staffing and inconsistent communication. They were spelled out in surveys from 134 people, just over half the department, that included nearly 80 pages of written comments. Much of that focused on the chief.
“That direct feedback tells me that I am failing some members of this organization,” Meehan wrote in an Aug. 11 email to BPD employees. “That is unacceptable.”
The comments are “a strong wake-up call” about what many characterized as a “lack of leadership and clear vision for our agency,” the chief wrote. He sent the email, entitled “Priorities and Commitment,” at about 10:10 p.m. after two long days of involved discussions with his leadership team.
The survey responses reportedly included scathing critiques of Meehan’s leadership style, along with other frustrations faced by the rank and file. The results have not been made public — and Meehan says they won’t be — but the chief’s email messages about those responses offer a rare glimpse into the department’s inner workings.
Morale inside the department has sunk to what may be an all-time low, some officers have told Berkeleyside, and that stems largely from what many have said is the failure of the chief to advocate effectively for what his officers want. Berkeleyside has granted those officers anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on behalf of the department.
The chief’s emails were also shared with Berkeleyside by a BPD staffer on condition of anonymity. Meehan provided additional context regarding the messages, as well as staff concerns, during a lengthy conversation with Berkeleyside on Monday night.
In his remarks to Berkeleyside, the chief described the survey feedback as “a motivator” he says will drive him to improve. He offered insights on his view of department staffing, and described a range of efforts undertaken under his watch that he believes have made BPD a leader across a number of important areas, from training to recognize implicit biases to efforts to equip all officers with crisis intervention and de-escalation skills.
“Any leader, if they’re always listening and paying attention and trying to do better, it’s a pretty good start,” he said. … Continue reading »