Berkeley police: Auto burglary crew with toddler in car fled officers, crashed

Police at Shattuck Square near Addison Street (file photo). Photo: David Yee

Two parolees, a woman from Oakland and her 2-year-old toddler crashed their Acura downtown Friday evening while fleeing officers who had tried to stop them to investigate a South Berkeley auto burglary, authorities say.

When officers tried to stop the driver near the UC Berkeley campus, he sped into downtown, hitting two vehicles at a red light, then ran away with an accomplice before police caught up with all three adults and arrested them, said Lt. Kevin Reece of the Berkeley Police Department.

During the detentions, which took place in two locations downtown, angry crowds surrounded police and insisted officers were only harassing the trio because they were black, Reece said. Some yelled, cursed and recorded the scene on video, while others chanted slogans such as “Black Lives Matter.”

Reece said, in his 24 years at BPD, it was the first time outside a protest where he had seen such an antagonistic response from so many bystanders with no knowledge of what had taken place.


The call initially came in to BPD on Friday at about 6:30 p.m. from a Good Samaritan in South Berkeley who had just witnessed an auto burglary in front of Berkeley Honda, at Shattuck Avenue and Ward Street. The witness called police and provided location updates, following the auto burglars as they drove away in their vehicle, a blue Acura, Reece said.

An officer got behind the Acura at University Avenue and Oxford Street and tried to pull it over, Reece said, but the driver “fled at a high rate of speed” into downtown. Two blocks away, the driver struck two vehicles that had stopped at the red light at Shattuck Avenue, southbound, at Addison Street.

The driver “tried to split the lanes like a motorcycle, but couldn’t,” Reece said, “and sideswiped both cars” before hitting a construction barrier.

Two men got out of the Acura and ran westbound on Addison Street, while a woman stayed behind. Police ultimately determined that was because her 2-year-old child also was in the car, Reece said. Officers detained the woman, who was identified as 29-year-old Artrice Dean of Oakland.

Officers stopped the men at Center and Milvia streets, about two blocks away. They were identified as Derrick Conerly, 39, and Aaron Burrell, 33, both of Oakland.

All three were arrested on suspicion of burglary, receiving stolen property, hit and run causing property damage, and evasion with disregard to safety, according to jail records online.

Dean and Conerly also were arrested on suspicion of child endangerment, and Conerly is facing an allegation of driving on a suspended license, too.

Dean is being held on $160,000 bail at Santa Rita Jail. The men are not eligible for bail because they are on parole, according to records online. All three are set for arraignment Tuesday morning at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland.

The child who was in the Acura was taken to her grandmother.

Reece said the crowds posed a challenge, in part, because they were yelling about harassment and getting very close to officers who were trying to make felony arrests, leaving them little room to work.

“We were still trying to sort out the crime,” he said. “We were trying to get squared away making sure we weren’t missing anything.”

Reece said, after the trio was taken into custody, he took some time to explain to the group what had taken place before the arrest.

“As soon as the crowd realized what they did, and what they did with a 2-year-old child in the car,” Reece said, “most of them calmed down.”

Other arrests over the weekend included a man found with a loaded gun and high-capacity magazine hidden in his car on Telegraph Avenue; four teenagers linked to the robbery of a woman at a bus stop; and a USPS mailman who was driving his postal vehicle and delivering mail — while reportedly under the influence of alcohol.

Reece said a resident on the man’s route called police because he was concerned the postal worker was intoxicated.