Tag Archives: Berkeley Copwatch

Police roust homeless camp; activists vow to return

Berkeley police arrest Nanci Armstrong-Temple on Nov. 4. The Alameda County District Attorney declined to press charges.  Photo: Paul Blake
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Early Friday morning, Berkeley police dismantled an encampment that had been set up on Adeline Street to protest the way the city provides homeless services.

A contingent of police officers came to the intersection of Adeline and Fairview around 5 a.m. and forced the 30 or so people sleeping on the pavement to get up and out.

The nature of the interaction is in dispute, with many homeless people saying they were rousted without warning, manhandled, even injured, and their stuff was thrown indiscriminately into the back of a truck. A city spokesman disagreed with that characterization and said the encampment had received two previous warnings to pack up and leave, and that police were respectful. In addition, said Matthai Chakko, the tents, blankets, sleeping bags and other belongings that were collected were bagged and tagged. The city’s homeless outreach worker was on the scene to help facilitate a return of those items to their owners, he said.

Following the early-morning incident, Berkeley Police issued a Nixle alert around 12:20 p.m. to say there was “a civic demonstration in the area of northbound MLK north of Ashby.” They advised motorists to use caution.

Four people were arrested Friday morning. (See below for details)  Nanci Armstrong-Temple, who is running for City Council in District 2, appears to be one of those who was taken into custody. She came to the scene shortly after the raid commenced, part of a group of allies of the homeless who are contacted via an e-tree or phone tree when an action is imminent, according to Mike Lee, who is running for mayor.

“They were slamming women to the ground,” said Mike Zint, an activist who was one of the leaders of Liberty City, an encampment set up in front of Old City Hall. “It’s horrible what they did. They specifically targeted Nanci. Also Andrea Prichett.” (Prichett is a founding member of Copwatch.) … Continue reading »

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Police

Judge tosses bulk of wrongful death suit against police

About 50 people held a rally Monday morning in support of a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of Kayla Moore. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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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 »

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Police

City seeks rejection of wrongful death lawsuit against police; celebrity pathologist disputes cause of death

Kayla Moore protest 9/20/16. Photo: Daniel McPartlan
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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 »

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Op-ed: Berkeley police do not tolerate discrimination

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Recently, several groups have alleged that, due to racial disparity between Berkeley Police stop data and the resident census population, the only possible explanation was racial profiling by Berkeley Police. I respectfully disagree.

Racial disparity and implicit bias are complex and wide-ranging national issues. Disparity affects many of our society’s institutions including health care, education, finance, the legal system and others. We share our community’s concern about disparity and inequity.

The Constitution, state and federal law and department policy … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley Police take a ‘head in the sand’ approach to racial profiling

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“The men and women of the Berkeley Police Department do not, have not and will never tolerate discriminatory, bias-based policing. Such discrimination is illegal, it is not our practice and it is not part of our organizational culture,” Meehan said.

If only that were true…

The recent release of data from Berkeley Police Department concerning the numbers of African Americans stopped, cited and searched made big news this week mostly because racial profiling is not supposed to be happening … Continue reading »

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Police

Berkeley coalition says police stops show racial bias

A local coalition has raised concerns about alleged racial profiling by Berkeley police. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley police officers disproportionately stop and search people of color during traffic stops, according to a coalition of groups that presented data and demanded changes from the department Tuesday.

Representatives from the Berkeley NAACP, Berkeley Copwatch and UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union presented the data at City Hall, and said the department must address the disparities.

The Berkeley Police Department quickly disputed the conclusions reached by the group, and said the department has already taken a number of steps to address implicit biases through training and education. The department says it has been recognized nationally for how well its staffing breakdown reflects the demographics of the community, as well as for its training and professionalism.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said he appreciated that the groups are raising awareness about the issue of disparities in the criminal justice system, but questioned their methodology and said their statement “generates more questions than answers.”

The coalition, which includes the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, analyzed nearly seven months of data related to about 4,700 traffic stops this year. According to the data, they said, 30.5% of the stops involved black motorists, even though black people make up only 8% of Berkeley’s population.

White motorists made up 36.7% of the stops, though they make up 60% of the city’s population. … Continue reading »

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Police release redacted reports on Berkeley protests

After denying a Public Records Act request from a local police watchdog group, the department responded with heavily redacted documents.
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The Berkeley Police Department has released two operational plans about protests in the city Dec. 6-7, but most of the wording was blacked out and redacted, so minimal information was revealed.

Andrea Prichett, co-founder of Berkeley Copwatch, requested the documents as part of two Public Records Act requests in December and January. The police department initially said the plans were exempt from release. In response to a second request from Prichett, the department provided the plans, but removed information it said related to security procedures and intelligence information.

According to a police department letter to Prichett on Jan. 26, “The disclosure of such documents could endanger public and officer safety and impede the success of future operations. Additionally, the operational plans and related documents are exempt under the ‘deliberative process privilege’ of Government Code 6255 because disclosure could have a chilling effect on the ability of the department and its command staff to candidly discuss, plan for, and respond to events requiring crowd control that are often fluid in nature.”

Read complete Berkeley protests coverage on Berkeleyside.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan has said the department is working on its own comprehensive report about the protests. Meehan told the city’s Police Review Commission in January that the report would be released later this year, “in an un-redacted fashion so everybody will have a chance to read what we knew when we knew it, and what we believe can be done differently in the future to hopefully end up with a different result.”

The two documents released to Prichett — who shared them with Berkeleyside — came in a very different form, however. In a 13-page “Incident Briefing” about a march planned for Dec. 6, 2014, about eight of the pages were blacked out. The department left visible the names of officers who had leadership roles, including Capt. Erik Upson, who was the incident commander that night, a summary regarding known plans that had been posted on social media about the Dec. 6 demonstration, and a general two-paragraph mission statement about how it would handle crowd control. … Continue reading »

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‘Double header’ Berkeley council meetings set for Tuesday, 2 protests also planned

Family members of Kayla Moore say they're still fighting for justice after her death in police custody last year. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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After canceling its regular session last week, the Berkeley City Council is set to hold two back-to-back meetings Tuesday night at Longfellow Middle School.

During those events, two separate groups have announced plans to protest in Berkeley. Separately, the Berkeley Unified School District has announced a panel discussion this week, for BUSD families only, regarding police-related fatalities. It remains to be seen how protest activities might affect the scheduled city meetings, but officials say they are preparing for a large turnout.

City officials canceled the Dec. 9 council meeting after protesters announced plans to take it over and shut it down. Officials said the regular meeting location, at Old City Hall, could not handle the expected capacity, and postponed the meeting to an undetermined date just hours before it was set to begin.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Some activists had announced plans earlier this month to “shut down” the Dec. 9 meeting to protest decisions made by the Berkeley Police Department to teargas and fire projectiles at demonstrators who refused to disperse from Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley on Dec. 6. (Berkeleyside has submitted a lengthy list of questions to police about this incident and has been told responses are forthcoming.)

Late last week, city staff said council’s Dec. 9 agenda will be heard Tuesday, Dec. 16, in the auditorium of Longfellow Middle School, at 1500 Derby St. at 5:30 p.m. A special worksession on the Adeline corridor originally scheduled for that time has been canceled. … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley solicits Taser study; anti-Taser group to hold forum Thursday night

Advocates for and against Tasers showed up Tuesday night to speak to the Berkeley City Council. Glenn Turner, in front, says she would rather see an investment in mental health resources. Behind her is an officer whose hand was broken during a recent physical fight with a suspect who refused to stop when the officer asked him to. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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As the city of Berkeley ramps up efforts to study whether its police force should carry Tasers, a local coalition has planned a forum Thursday night to collect community feedback on the issue.

The Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 in May to have the city study the thorny question. Council members Max Anderson, Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín voted against the proposal from council members Laurie Capitelli, Gordon Wozniak and Darryl Moore to get a report from the city manager about Tasers, and have the city’s Police Review Commission consider the subject as well.

Many Berkeley Police officers attended the meeting in May and spoke about the need to carry Tasers, which they say would make officers and those who come into contact with them safer, and also save the city money in the long run. Officers have said data show that departments with Tasers have seen fewer “use of force” complaints, fewer injuries to officers and suspects, and reduced costs associated with on-the-job injuries.

Community members who do not believe police should carry Tasers also shared their concerns: that police have enough weapons, that Berkeley doesn’t have enough crime to justify adding another one, and that there are too many risks associated with Taser shocks. They cited the possibility of pre-existing medical conditions that could increase health risks, as well as concerns about the disproportionate use of Tasers on minorities, the poor and people in mental health crisis.

The city issued a request for proposals Aug. 25 to find a consultant to look into the matter. Proposals are due Tuesday at 2 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Tasers, torture and the soul of the city

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Before I discuss the facts and reasons that lead me to oppose arming Berkeley Police with Tasers, I invite readers to remember a bit of Berkeley history.

This city was once nationally known for its unapologetic defense of the rights of the poor and oppressed. It cared about police abuse, racism and the treatment of people with disabilities, both physical and mental. This city was a monument to the hope we hold that education, culture and consciousness, rather than … Continue reading »

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Berkeley slapped with lawsuit over Kayla Moore’s death

Kayla Moore, from Facebook
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Berkeley police used excessive force when attempting to arrest Kayla Moore and declined to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when she stopped breathing because they considered her transgender status as something objectionable, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday.

At least one Berkeley Police officer who responded to reports of a disturbance at Moore’s apartment at the Gaia Building on Allston Way on Feb. 13, 2013, referred to Moore as “it,” according to the lawsuit. … Continue reading »

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Police

Vigil, rally mark anniversary of in-custody death

Family members of Kayla Moore say they're still fighting for justice after her death in police custody last year. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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One year after Kayla Moore died during a police investigation into a disturbance at her downtown Berkeley home, family members and supporters are still fighting for what they say are needed changes in how local authorities handle mental health crises throughout the city.

A rally and vigil for Moore are planned Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 6 p.m. at the Gaia Apartments, at 2116 Allston Way, where Moore had lived in the months preceding her death. That event will be followed at 7 p.m. by a “speakout” before the city’s Police Review Commission at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St.

Next week, a two-day commission hearing on the circumstances surrounding Moore’s death is expected to conclude with a vote, or votes, related to what happened after police responded to Moore’s home just before midnight Feb. 12, 2013, when a friend of Moore’s, concerned about her mental and physical state, called police for help. Neither the hearing nor its outcome is open to the public because it’s considered a personnel matter, which is protected by confidentiality laws. … Continue reading »

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Police

Berkeley Police team wins local Urban Shield contest

Berkeley Police Urban Shield 2013 Winners. Photo:  Berkeley Police Association
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A team of Berkeley Police officers took first place at a recent Bay Area competition to gauge their preparedness in a 48-hour series of grueling emergency response drills, authorities said this week.

The fifth annual Bay Area Urban Shield event, which is organized by the Alameda County sheriff’s department, took place Oct. 25-28 in locations around the region.

The federally-funded program is managed by the National Incident Management System and the Standard Emergency Management System, according to organizers. The program was created to train first responders in how to handle disaster scenarios in the communities they serve. Police and fire first responders in many cities, such as San Francisco, Austin and Dallas, along with international teams from Brazil, Israel, France and other countries, have participated.

Sgt. Christian Stines, president of the Berkeley Police Association, said Berkeley’s team of participants this year bested 34 other SWAT and emergency responder teams from around the globe to score highest in this year’s contest. … Continue reading »

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