Tag Archives: Berkeley Police

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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Police

Berkeley Police Department to focus on staffing, will ‘take a collective deep breath’ under new chief

Capt. Andrew Greenwood, many other members of the department, and retirees and family, attended the ceremony Thursday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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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 »

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Police

‘Suspicious package’ shuts down Public Safety Building

Berkeley Police Department. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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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 »

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Police

Berkeley police chief resigns; no reason provided

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said the public still has ample time to offer feedback. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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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 »

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Man who threatened family and Berkeley police surrenders after a three-hour standoff

A man who threatened to harm his mother and brother surrendered to police Monday after a three-hour standoff. He lived in the 1500 block of Prince St.
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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 »

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Crime

First 6 months of year see crime drop in Berkeley

2016 mid-year crime report. Source: BPD
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Crime is down in Berkeley this year, after it spiked in 2015 with the highest serious felony statistics since 2009.

In the six-month crime report, set to go before the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday, Berkeley police authorities say overall Uniform Crime Report numbers were down 8.3% from January through June as compared to the same period in 2015. The federal designation tracks reports of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft and arson.

The department does not analyze the crime rate or look at how crime statistics relate to changes in the city’s population.

Despite promises to council in March to launch a robust social media program this year, the effort has yet to take off. According to the Sept. 20 report, “The department is … working with the City PIO to develop and implement a social media strategy using Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor and GovDelivery.”

The city as a whole has been slow to embrace social media, and follows a policy created by city spokesman Matthai Chakko that requires departments interested in social media to create a six-month content plan in advance and commit to a rigid posting schedule.

On the bright side, pedestrian robberies decreased nearly 20% from 2015, and overall robberies were down about 10%. There were no homicides in the first six months of the year. … Continue reading »

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Police hunt for man who fired gun during argument

Berkeley police investigate a shooting on Stanton Street. Photo: Daniel McPartlan
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Berkeley police are on the lookout for a suspect who shot at a man after they got into a verbal altercation Wednesday.

A little after 9 a.m., two men got into a fight near the intersection of Ashby Avenue and Sacramento Street, according to Sgt. Andrew Frankel of the Berkeley Police Department. One of the men pulled out a gun and fired at the other, but missed, said Frankel. The shooter ran away.

Berkeley police briefly closed off Stanton Street, near the scene of the shooting, to make sure no-one had been injured by gunfire. No-one had, said Frankel.

Sgt. Frankel did not know if the two people involved were friends or acquaintances. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Man to be sentenced after masturbation near kids at park

A man is arrested in Ohlone Park after police responded to a call of a man who was touching his genitals near a group of children, in Berkeley, on Wednesday, Aug 3. Photo: David Yee
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A man with a criminal record for indecent exposure is set to be sentenced this week after Berkeley police officers say he masturbated near playground children at Ohlone Park in August.

According to court papers, Michael Ward, 32, was naked — with only a jacket draped over his lap — when police contacted him Aug. 3 at the North Berkeley park just before 2 p.m. He was on probation for indecent exposure after a 2014 arrest in Berkeley on Fifth Street.

One witness told police Ward was masturbating near a children’s playground while children were in the area. Ward, who has no listed home address, “was seated a few feet away from a playground.” When the witness saw him, he was wearing just socks and a shirt, and had a jacket over his lap.

According to an individual in the area, Ward was a regular camper in the park. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police seek 2 teens after armed robbery

Police cruisers, January 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Police responded to an armed robbery report involving juveniles at Stuart and California streets in South Berkeley on Saturday just before 9 p.m.

Berkeley Police Lt. Alyson Hart, watch commander, said two juveniles with a gun walked up behind another youth and robbed that person. She said both suspects wore dark hooded sweatshirts and jeans.

According to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, two individuals identified as juveniles robbed another youth of a backpack and phone at about 9 p.m. or several minutes earlier.

The victim was identified over the scanner as a 13-year-old boy.

The robbers were identified as two black teenagers, 15 and 16 years old, who ran west on Stuart from California after the incident. They appeared to be 5 foot 7 and 150-200 pounds, one in a black hooded sweatshirt and another in a red hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. They were armed with a handgun, according to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Breaking: Berkeley police respond to stabbing, crash

Berkeley police are having a busy night Saturday. Photo: Alan Dyck
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Berkeley police officers are having a busy night Saturday, with a stabbing on Russell Street followed by an unrelated crash involving a vehicle and bike on Ashby Avenue.

Lt. Alyson Hart, BPD watch commander, said the stabbing, at Russell and King Street, did not appear to be life-threatening.

A reader reported “Multiple police and ambulances on Russell” just before 7:35 p.m.

The crash, at Ashby and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, came in at about 7:40 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley crime log: Teen nabbed after robbery attempt and car crash, drinking at Cal, elder abuse arrest, more

The Brower Center evacuation. Photo: Jay Rooney
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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 Aug. 19-25, there were reports of four robberies17 burglaries16 assaults or batteriesno weapon-involved calls and three felony sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 11 stolen vehicles20 disturbances and 31 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. A robbery, three burglaries and a vehicle theft, among other crimes, were reported on CrimeMapping to the University of California Police Department (UCPD). Arrested or charged individuals are presumed innocent. Find the Aug. 19-25 round-up below several more recent items.

Recent public safety news

OAKLAND TEEN ARRESTED AFTER ROBBERY ATTEMPT An 18-year-old from Oakland was arrested after trying to rob someone outside the Starry Plough on Sunday night. BPD watch commander Lt. Alyson Hart said officers received good suspect and vehicle descriptions. A short time later, “an officer tried to stop a vehicle that matched the description. The vehicle did not stop and the officer followed it a short distance into Oakland before letting it go. As he was concluding his area check he saw that the vehicle had crashed and someone was running from the car. The suspect was caught and arrested several blocks away. This case is still very much in the early stages of the investigation.” Police arrested Isaac Rojas on suspicion of attempted robbery and resisting arrest; he could be sent to prison if convicted. Rojas is being held with a bail of $30,000 and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Sept. 20, according to Alameda County sheriff’s office records online.

ROBBERY ALERT There were two other robberies in Berkeley on Sunday, at 3:40 p.m. in the 1900 block of San Pablo Avenue, at 5 p.m. in the 1900 block of Shattuck.

DRINKING AT CAL BPD reported 551 alcohol-related citations, and 17 in-custody arrests during the last two weekends in August in the South Campus area as part of a coordinated effort with a number of other law enforcement agencies: “Citations were written for a number of offenses including Open Containers, Selling/Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor, Minor in Possession, and Possession of a Fake ID for the Purposes of Purchasing Alcohol. If cited for one of these offenses a person could face punishments which range from a fine, community service, to the loss of one’s driving privileges (depending on the offense) for up to a year. Arrests were made this year for Public Intoxication, Armed Robbery, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and Petty Theft.” Last year, which was described by BPD as a record year for enforcement, led to 423 arrests and citations. See last year’s Berkeleyside story describing the annual enforcement effort. Read more about drinking at Cal. … Continue reading »

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Man, 58, victim of attempted robbery in Berkeley

The downtown Berkeley Walgreens. Image: Google Maps
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A 58-year-old man outside the downtown Berkeley Walgreens was nearly robbed early Friday morning, authorities report.

According to a notice released by the University of California Police Department late Friday afternoon, the man was walking at 6:25 a.m. when the suspect tried to take his property.

“The suspect was unsuccessful and fled the area,” according to a UCPD statement. “The victim was not injured during the encounter.”

Police checked the area but could not find the suspect.

He was described as a 25-year-old black man with medium complexion and a thin build wearing a blue or gray shirt.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Update: Man taken to Highland with serious injuries after road rage assault; driver arrested

Berkeley police cruiser (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, 5:10 p.m. One man has been arrested after Thursday’s road rage incident in Berkeley that led to another man being taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Watch commander Lt. Dan Montgomery said one motorist drove into the other one just as he was exiting his vehicle following the dispute, which happened on Russell Street by Grove Park, west of Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Police are still investigating whether the other driver may also face arrest.

Montgomery said that, though there had been earlier reports of a possible firearm, no weapon was recovered. The driver who ultimately was arrested did remain on scene when police arrived.

No further information was immediately available but Berkeleyside will update this story if additional detail is provided.

Original story, 2:26 p.m. A motorist has been taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a two-car crash that may have stemmed from a verbal altercation in South Berkeley, authorities report. … Continue reading »

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