Editor’s note: The Berkeleyside team does its best to keep up with reader questions about public safety incidents around town. A few tips for those who send alerts: Please be specific about what you saw, as well as when and where you saw it. Let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. An email to firstname.lastname@example.org is often the best approach. If you believe you are seeing a critical incident of unusual significance, and are in a safe situation, please text or call Berkeleyside at 510-459-8325.
Berkeley police handled more than just gun-related arrests and shooting investigations over the weekend.
Readers asked Berkeleyside to track down information about several incidents they saw around town Saturday and Sunday. BPD provided brief narratives in response to our inquiries.
Saturday, police said a man kicked an officer in the stomach and spat in another officer’s face. Sunday, a man bit an officer’s finger and had to be restrained, authorities said. Also on Sunday, police called to Solano Avenue found someone with methamphetamine reportedly mixed with the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which has been linked to thousands of overdoses around the nation. “Any contact with the drug can be deadly,” the Washington Post reported about fentanyl last year.
Saturday afternoon, a passerby who saw a man setting fires by the downtown post office, on Allston Way, called police to report it, said Lt. Peter Hong of the Berkeley Police Department. When officers arrived, they found 30-year-old Mawuli Adzoe, who is homeless, near an area of “scorched grass,” Hong said.
“Adzoe refused to identify himself and tried to run away,” Hong said, then “kicked one officer in the stomach and spat in the face of another.” Adzoe was arrested shortly before 4 p.m. on suspicion of battery and obstruction, and is being held at Berkeley Jail on more than $300,000 bail, according to county booking records online.
Hong said police had just spoken with Adzoe on Friday, nearby in Civic Center Park downtown, because he had set his own shirt on fire. Adzoe told police he did it “because his shirt had ticks all over it,” Hong said. A BPD officer with Crisis Intervention Training had evaluated Adzoe at the scene. He is set for arraignment Wednesday, according to jail records online.
UCPD arrested Adzoe in March and early April on suspicion of resisting arrest on campus. In late April, UCPD arrested him on suspicion of vandalism, battery on a peace officer or EMT, and resisting arrest. He was taken to jail all three times, according to online booking logs.
Sunday, around 7:30 a.m., a Berkeleyside reader spotted “about five fire trucks and a haz mat fire truck converging on Solano” Avenue. “You might want to check it out,” she said in a message on Facebook.
Hong said officers were called for a report of a man who was sleeping on the sidewalk on Solano at Ventura Avenue.
“During the contact the male cautioned officers that he had needles on him,” said Hong. Police “found a small press lock bag of powdered methamphetamine” during a search, and “The male told officers the drug was mixed with fentanyl.”
Fentanyl overdoses have been on the rise nationwide in recent years, and the drug “has grown as a threat to public safety. It only takes a very small amount of fentanyl or its derivatives … to result in severe adverse reactions. As a consequence, not only are users exposed to danger, but so are others who encounter them including the general public, first responders, and law enforcement,” the DEA has said. Fentanyl “mimics the effects of morphine in the human body, but has potency 50–100 times that of morphine.”
Hong said police called Berkeley firefighters to the scene “due to the high risk of Fentanyl exposure … to assist in safely packaging it for evidence storage and testing.” BFD has a team trained to assess and handle hazardous materials. Hong said there was no indication the officer had been exposed to the drug, ultimately, because he “had on protective gloves … when he touched the substance.”
Paramedics medically assessed the individual who had the drugs, Hong said. BPD did not indicate whether an arrest was made, but no further information was available as of publication time about the outcome of the call.
Later in the day, around 3:50 p.m. Sunday, a reader asked Berkeleyside to find out “what’s happening on Shattuck and Delaware? So many police cars. Sorry couldn’t get pic was driving but lots of bystanders. I live close by. Thanks for updating us [about] what’s going on in Berkeley!”
Hong said officers and mental health workers were called about a man having a mental health crisis at Delaware Street and Shattuck Avenue. When mental health workers tried to assist, the man began fighting, and bit an officer on the finger. Ultimately, the man had to be restrained, Hong said.
Booking records identify the man as 50-year-old Deryl Dewitt, who is homeless. He was arrested on suspicion of battery on a peace officer and is being held at Santa Rita Jail on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled for arraignment at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on Tuesday.
Berkeley police said last week that 28% of the people arrested in the city from 2012 through 2017 were listed as homeless.