Tag Archives: Sgt. Mary Kusmiss


Parolee charged in Berkeley robberies has violent past

Jahton Green in 2008. Photo: Berkeley Police
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An Oakland parolee charged in two Berkeley robberies in August has a lengthy and violent history of attacking elders, according to authorities and media reports dating back to 2008. Two of his alleged victims died following the attacks, and he had only recently been released from prison prior to the most recent incidents.

Jahton Green, 27, is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Nov. 15 at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in downtown Oakland. Due to his status as a parolee, he is not eligible for bail. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

On Aug. 22, authorities said Green robbed two men in Berkeley — ages 75 and 62 —as they were walking on the street in two different neighborhoods. He pushed one of the victims from behind before stealing his money, and struck the other one in the face, then hit and kicked him after he fell down, before stealing his cell phone and keys, according to court documents.

Green’s cell phone records placed him in Berkeley on the night of the incidents above, police said, “very close to the robbery locations.” Green denied being in Berkeley, according to court records. He was arrested Sept. 4 after police identified him as the suspect in the two cases and completed their investigation.

According to court documents, Green had recently been paroled for the 2008 robbery of an elderly woman in El Cerrito. … Continue reading »

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UPDATE 6/12 10:15 a.m.: Berkeley police continued their investigation throughout the night and currently have patrol officers looking for the suspect in the Marina, according to Lt. Dave Frankel. The suspect is described as a male with a dark complexion, under 30 years old, with blonde hair streaked through with green. He was wearing jeans, a green shirt, and black sneakers.

Original story: Berkeley police sealed off the marina for several hours Tuesday and inspected every car coming out in the hopes of catching a man who had sexually assaulted a child earlier in the day.

Police received a report around 1:37 p.m. that a man had assaulted a child in a public bathroom, according to a press release. Police responded quickly and contained the marina by closely monitoring the roads leading in and out of the area.

“Officers took posts on University Avenue and Marina Boulevard where they visually inspected the interior of all cars leaving the area,” Sgt. Mary Kusmiss wrote in the release. “Officers also shared the reason for their interest in the cars with drivers and passengers and asked for the community’s help with the investigation.” … Continue reading »

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Anthrax scare at Berkeley police station, other cities

BPD station
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Update, 5:00pm: Berkeleyside’s Lance Knobel filed this report from Berkeley Police station:

A white envelope containing a suspicious white powder was opened at the BPD this afternoon at 2:17 pm leading to an evacuation of part of the public safety building and a dispatch of specially trained hazmat teams from BFD and Alameda Fire Department. The hazmat teams determined that the powder was a food paste product and the all-clear was given to the building at 4:00 pm this afternoon.

The Berkeley envelope was one of at least four similar incidents today — the others were in Hayward, San Leandro and Union City. Berkeley has launched a criminal investigation and the FBI has been notified and will be involved in the investigation.

The envelope was received as part of the ordinary mail delivery and was opened by a female member of the professional staff who worked at the front counter. “She recognized the need for caution and concern right away. She alerted her chain of command,” said BPD Sgt Mary Kusmiss. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police have cordoned off Acton Street near Oregon to search for evidence in connection with a shooting that happened around 5 pm, according to the police scanner, and Berkeleyside tipsters.

Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies are talking to a man who went to Highland Hospital with possible gunshot wounds, according to the scanner. Berkeley police are on their way to talk to the patient, who may have been involved in the incident.

One south Berkeley resident reported she heard about seven shots being fired shortly after 5 pm. Police said on the scanner that someone who may be a suspect sped off in a blue GMC Yukon. … Continue reading »

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Armed men assault bank security guard in Berkeley

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Today at about 1:20 pm two male suspects assaulted a security guard outside the Bank of America at 2546 San Pablo Avenue and robbed him of his revolver. The suspects were armed with semi-automatic handguns and apparently struck the guard in the head before fleeing on foot.

According to BPD spokesperson Sgt Mary Kusmiss, the guard sustained some pain and swelling to his head but declined any paramedic treatment. The bank itself, which is at the intersection with Parker, was not … Continue reading »

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Police chief: ‘Not some kind of preferential treatment’

Meehan portrait
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Embattled Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said Wednesday that having 10 police officers search for his son’s stolen iPhone on January 11 was not “some kind of preferential treatment,” but is something the department “would do for anybody in the city.”

“This is being cast as some kind of preferential treatment, but it was not,” said Meehan in a telephone interview. “It is not unusual for us to respond to a live track of stolen property with the resources we have available. We have done it in other cases. In this case, my son was the victim of a crime at the high school. My personal phone was linked to his and was able to track it. I showed that to a detective-sergeant and said ‘what can we do with this?’ He said we can work cases like this. He took his team to track the signal and they weren’t able to find anybody.”

The reason so many officers investigated the theft so quickly was because it was a crime in progress, said Meehan. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley man charged with manslaughter in fatal crash

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The 24-year old man who crashed a car into a traffic circle in Berkeley on May 18, killing his 22-year old girlfriend and seriously injuring her 6-year old son, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and a series of other felony counts.

Police said Jose Lumbreras of Berkeley had a blood alcohol count of .219, or two and a half times the legal limit, at the time of the 1:15 am accident on California Street near Allston Way. Lumbreras allegedly was driving his Cadillac around 64 mph on the residential street when he crashed the car into the traffic circle. It went airborne, and collided with a tree. There were no skid marks at the scene, which suggests Lumbreras did not brake, said Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley Police Department.

Lumbreras remains in the hospital with serious injuries but was arrested there Tuesday, according to police. … Continue reading »

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Hunt for police chief’s son’s iPhone cost $740 in overtime

BPD Chief Michael Meehan: two outside agencies have been hired by the city after a mistake he made on March 9
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It cost the city of Berkeley about $740 in overtime pay to have 10 detectives search for Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan’s son’s missing iPhone.

Three detectives and a sergeant from the property crimes unit put in two hours of overtime each when they scoured a north Oakland neighborhood for the stolen phone on January 11, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, the BPD’s public information officer. Detectives get paid $90.26 an hour in overtime pay and sergeants get $98.63 an hour. The figure does not include the regular pay for those investigating, which included members of the Drug Task Force. All together, Berkeley police officers spent about 10 hours collectively investigating this crime, said Kusmiss. … Continue reading »

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Police chief sent 10 officers on hunt for his son’s iPhone

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan: "Much common ground has been found"
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Late on the afternoon of January 11, an estimated ten Berkeley police officers, several of them from the department’s Drugs Task Force, knocked on front doors in a residential block in north Oakland. They were not looking for drugs. They were hunting for the missing iPhone of Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan’s teenage son.

Four of the officers worked overtime on the investigation, for which a report was never filed. The iPhone was not recovered, and the Oakland Police Department was not alerted about the search, which Meehan participated in.

Chief Meehan is currently at the center of an independent investigation into his decision to send an officer to the home of a reporter in the early hours of March 9 with a request to correct a story. That review will cost the city up to $25,000. In addition, Berkeley is spending $24,000 on an audit of the police department’s media relations policies.

On January 11 this year, Chief Meehan’s son, who attends Berkeley High School, came to the police station to say that that his iPhone had gone missing. He was upset, according to a witness. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley will spend up to $50K after police chief blunder

BPD Chief Michael Meehan: two outside agencies have been hired by the city after a mistake he made on March 9
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The city of Berkeley has hired a public relations firm at a cost of $24,000 to review the police department’s media policies, bringing the price tag to $49,000 for Police Chief Michael Meehan’s decision to send a sergeant to a reporter’s home in the middle of the night to ask for a change to a story.

Cornerstone Communications, located in Irvine, will audit the police department’s policies on the release of information, make recommendations to ensure the department is following “best practices,” media guidelines, and train police personnel on changing media dynamics, on understanding social media, and media culture.

The firm will talk to police management and reporters who cover the police department, and assess the police department’s reputation in recent news coverage and social media space. The contract was signed on May 1. … Continue reading »

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Update, 11:32 am: All three of the occupants of the Cadillac are currently Berkeley residents, according to new information released by BPD.

The male driver and the child remain in the hospital.

Very preliminary evidence suggests the Cadillac was travelling northbound on California Street when it struck the roundabout in the intersection of Allston Way, then collided with the tree on the eastside of California Street, just north of Allston Way. BDP writes: “These turnabouts, roundabouts, traffic circles are intended to be traffic calming features. There have been collisions periodically at these features around the City of Berkeley and yet, the number is not remarkable enough to suggest that they are the significant issue in this collision. Impairment of the driver is always a part of these types of investigations.” See City Report on fatal accidents in Berkeley since 1984.

Update, 8:55 am: A young woman in her 20s died in the crash. She was a passenger in the car that was being driven by a man, also believed to be in his 20s, and there was a child in the back seat, according to media reports. The car, a Cadillac with a Compton registration is believed to have been traveling at high speed before its careered into a tree on California. The car was severely mangled and it proved hard to extricate the people inside, according to BPD spokesperson Sgt Mary Kusmiss. “It was a challenge for both patrol officers and the fire department to get the individuals out of the car. The officers and fire department did some heroic work to get them out,” she told KTVU who published a photograph of the wreck.

Original story: On Friday May 18, at about 1:13 a.m, a car with one driver and two passengers struck a tree at California Street and Allston Way. One of the occupants of the car was pronounced dead at the scene, while two other occupants were transported to local hospital trauma units with serious injuries.

City of Berkeley Police Department patrol officers responded to a collision on California Street and Allston Way and found the car on California Street just north of Allston Way. City of Berkeley Fire Department personnel responded as well.

The BPD FAIT (Fatal Accident Collision Team) was on scene has started its investigation.

BPD is not releasing the names or ages of the occupants of the car out of respect for their families.

This is the second fatal collision of 2012. On January 30, 2012, a car struck a young man on a skateboard at Marin and Tulare in North Berkeley. The skateboarder dies as a result of his injuries.

Want to get breaking news like this even more quickly? Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and download the free Berkeleyside iPhone app.

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Police step up patrols on Telegraph to clear sidewalks

Berkeley and UC Police have started regular patrols of Telegraph to discourage young adults from loitering on the sidewalk. Photo by Sgt. Mary Kusmiss
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In response to complaints from merchants and shoppers about the increase in the number of people loitering on the sidewalks, the Berkeley Police Department and UC Police have started a new patrol around Telegraph Avenue.

During the afternoon and evening, six days a week, a pair of officers, one from Berkeley and one from UC, will walk or bike along the avenue and People’s Park.

“We have heard community concerns about ongoing problems and these teams are intended to address those concerns,” Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said in a press release.

The decision to add regular patrols comes at the time when Telegraph Avenue has seen its annual uptick of young adults who camp out on the street. On Monday and Tuesday this week, for example, at least three people were stretched out in sleeping bags in front of the old Cody’s Books in the early morning hours. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police officer switching jobs in wake of scandal

Berkeley Police Officer Portrait
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Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, the public information officer who the Berkeley police chief sent to the home of a reporter around 1 am on March 9, prompting media coverage around the world, is stepping down from her post.

Sgt. Kusmiss will return to patrol duties sometime in the next few months, she announced Wednesday. She would not discuss the reasons behind the move. No new PIO has been selected yet, she said.

The last few months have been tough ones for the Berkeley Police Department, which was criticized for its response to the bludgeoning death of Peter Cukor, 67, in the Berkeley hills on Feb. 18. The spotlight on the department intensified on March 9 after Chief Michael Meehan ordered Kusmiss to go the Berkeley home of Oakland Tribune Reporter Doug Oakley at 12:45 am to ask him to change a story he had just posted online. … Continue reading »

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