Man charged in hammer attack during Berkeley protests

Man hit in the head with a hammer while objecting to the breaking of the windows of Radio Shack on Shattuck. Photo: Emilie Raguso
The victim of a hammer attack is tended to at a Black Lives Matter protest Dec. 7 in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso

A man has been charged with two felonies related to an attack with a hammer on a demonstrator taking part in a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Berkeley in December.

Berkeley police arrested Jayne Waller, 20, in late August on an unrelated offense after an officer recognized him from a previously circulated physical description that included a street name. Waller was released after that violation, but was re-arrested Monday in the 2100 block of Shattuck Avenue in connection with the hammer attack.

Waller was charged Tuesday by the Alameda County district attorney’s office on two counts relating to the attack — assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury — and one count of second-degree commercial burglary relating to a break-in and theft at the RadioShack store on Shattuck Avenue and Dwight Way.

Berkeleyside caught the attack on video (see below). It happened around 8 p.m. Dec. 7, one of several nights that month when Berkeley and Oakland were consumed with largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests that included property damage and were at times violent.


According to court documents describing the crime, a group of protesters was at Dwight and Shattuck when “several people broke away from the protests and began vandalizing the Radio Shack at this location.”

The statement continues: “One of the people vandalizing the store was Waller. Waller was wearing a unique and identifiable set of clothing though his face was obscured. Waller had a hammer in his hand which he used to break out the store front windows and doors at RadioShack. Persons who were there to protest but did not want businesses vandalized attempted to keep Waller from vandalizing the RadioShack.”

One of those individuals was a 55-year-old Berkeley man who police said “had joined the protests out of concern for balance in the discussions happening around the protests. The victim was in the immediate area of the protesters who were trying to keep the suspect and others from vandalizing and looting. Waller used the hammer to strike the victim in the face. There was no direct contact between the victim and suspect before the victim was struck in the face.”

The man was taken to Highland Hospital for treatment after the attack. According to court documents, he had “a facial laceration, concussion with loss of consciousness, comminuted zygomatic arch fracture and a fracture to the posterolateral aspect of the left orbit.” The victim had surgery to repair the injuries at Kaiser Hospital Oakland.

See all Berkeleyside’s coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Tensions rose after the man was assaulted, according to reporters on the scene. A series of aggressive interactions between protesters who wanted to keep the peace and those who were encouraging vandalism followed.

Waller was identified and arrested after police put out a description that included his street name, according to court papers.

When being interviewed, police showed Waller video footage of the hammer attack and ultimately admitted, according to police: “I socked the shit out of him, yeah, that was me.”

RadioShack put the total value of the damage to its windows and doors, and the loss of merchandise, at around $14,000, according to the court documents.

Waller was arraigned Tuesday, and was scheduled for an attorney and plea hearing Wednesday, according to online records from the Alameda County sheriff’s department.

He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail, where he is being held on a $120,000 bail, and is set for a pretrial hearing Monday, Sept. 28.

Related:
PRC gets first chance for answers from Berkeley police after December protests (06.10.15)
Exclusive: Man died after Berkeley protests delayed help (12.19.14)
Protesters take to streets of Berkeley for second night running (12.07.14)

Do you rely on Berkeleyside for your local news? You can support independent local journalism by becoming a Berkeleyside Member. You can choose either a monthly payment or a one-time contribution. 

[Editor’s Note: This story initially contained an editing error in the headline that was corrected shortly after publication.]