FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2013CONTACT:
Andrea Prichett (Berkeley Copwatch)Phone: (510) 229-0527 email: firstname.lastname@example.orgGeorge Lippman (Coalition For a Safe Berkeley)Phone: (510) 517-8379 email: email@example.com
BERKELEY COALITION DEMANDS ACCESS TO INFORMATION ABOUT DEATH IN POLICE CUSTODYWho: Coalition For a Safe Berkeley, Berkeley Copwatch,Amnesty International UCB ChapterWhat: Press ConferenceWhere: 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, BerkeleyWhen: Thursday 10:00am February 28 2013As details of the tragic death of 41 year old Berkeley resident Xavier Christopher Moore in police custody begin to emerge, residents are asking why this person died and why police are slow to release information in this case.According to Berkeley Police, officers were dispatched for a mental health evaluation at about 11:50 pm on February 12, 2013, although neighbors on the same floor heard no disturbance until the police arrived.After officers appeared at Moore’s residence the situation escalated, and shortly thereafter Moore died in police custody. Neighbors observed officers carrying Moore on a gurney, unconscious and in restraints, out of the building. In a city that is known internationally for disability awareness, social consciousness and protection of civil liberties, it is unacceptable that a mental health evaluation should end in death.We are calling on advocates and individuals in the mental health community, civil and human rights, anti-racism and LGBTQ rights communities to demand answers from the City of Berkeley as to what happened that night. If misconduct has occurred, officers must be disciplined. If it was a failure of policy and administration, the public must be allowed to analyze the case and to assist in addressing this breakdown in city services. In any case, we demand that the Berkeley Police Department comply with Public Records Act requests and that they make information about that night’s events available to the public as quickly as possible.
Entries Tagged 'Police Violence and Killings' ↓
Please come to copwatch meeting on Monday at 7pm. 2022 Blake Street * We need allies to come so we can break this into working groups and find out why a mental health call became lethal. Contact homeless services and mental health providers in the city about this.
Update: Man dies after struggle with Berkeley Police
Authorities are investigating the death of a man who stopped breathing after a violent struggle with police Tuesday night, officials said.
According to a statement released by the Berkeley Police Department just after 4 p.m. today, authorities were dispatched to the 2000 block of Allston Way for a mental health evaluation at about 11:50 p.m. Tuesday.
“Upon arrival, uniformed officers spoke with the reporting party and were directed to the 41 year old male subject’s residence nearby,” according to the statement. ”During the contact, the subject became increasingly agitated and uncooperative to the officer’s verbal commands and began to scream and violently resist. After struggling with officers they were able to gain control of the subject and place him in restraints. The subject continued to kick and scream at officers.”
Police said that, due to the man’s “large stature,” officers asked the Berkeley Fire Department for a gurney to help transport him “for further evaluation.”
“While under restraint officers determined the subject was not breathing and immediately began CPR,” according to the statement. The Berkeley Fire Department took the man to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Police notified the district attorney’s office, and the case is being investigated by the Detective Division, according to department policy. Also per department policy, the police officers who responded to the call have been placed on administrative leave, said officer Stephanie Polizziani of the Berkeley Police Department.
Sgt. Patricia Wilson of the coroner’s office said she did not have details on the case. Generally speaking, she said, it would be investigated in the same manner as any death in Alameda County that is considered “unnatural.”
Those types of investigations include consolidating reports from law enforcement agencies, reviewing the medical history, putting together a case file and interviewing witnesses.
“We don’t do anything specific for law enforcement-involved cases,” she said. “We investigate all deaths from the same perspective.”
This story was updated at 5:30 p.m.
Uhuru News reports on November 18th that five young people from across African American communities in Chicago were killed in one week in early November of 2012. In one instance, fifteen year old Dakota Bright was chased down the street and then executed with a shot to the back of the head by Chicago Police on November 8, 2012 as he walked from his school to his grandmother’s house. Police reported he had a gun. Dakota Bright laid on the ground, dead and surrounded by police officers, while they tried to “locate” the gun. Over two weeks after the incident occured, the family had still not received an autopsy report, police report, or death certificate.
Kovell Curry writes that a statement was released by the family from the funeral on November 16, ‘to Chicago as a warning’. It read:
“Today the family was more than disrespected by Chicago police, while trying to lay Dakota to rest there were helicopters and a mob of police following the funeral procession. The police told one of our cousins to ‘shut the fuck up before you get fucked up next.’ They had rifles in their hands as if we were in a third world country at war. They are trying to scare us but we are not letting up on these killers.”
This matches much of what we are hearing across the Bay Area from families–their children are shot down while walking familiar paths between schools and family homes, they are consistently accused of carrying guns, and after they are shot, often at close range and in the back or on the ground, their bodies are left dead or dying for very long periods in public spaces surrounded by police. From here, the family waits months, even longer, for autopsy reports (that often don’t add up…), police reports, and death certificates.
For Kovell Curry’s full story in Uhuru News, see:
South San Francisco Police Department faces $10 million in damages for killing of 15 year old Derrick Gaines
“On October 30, the family of Derrick Gaines, the 15 year old who was shot and killed by South San Francisco Police Department officer Joshua Cabillo, filed a federal civil rights action against the City of South San Francisco. Family members, who are seeking $10 million in damages, hired Attorney John Burris to represent them in the wrongful death action. Burris says, “This is a clear case of racial profiling that lead to disastrous results.”
The press conference was held in front of the South San Francisco Arco gas station where Gaines was killed on June 5, and Rachel Guido Red, Gaines’ mother, said she hopes the civil action will lead to a change in police procedures. “These are our kids out there and there’s other ways of dealing with them, other than shooting and killing them,” she said.
The civil suit was additionally filed on behalf of Derrick Gaines’ father, who is also named Derrick Gaines. “Every day I am having a harder time dealing with this….I know how police are, and it’s killing me,” he said at the press conference. “Not a day goes by I don’t miss my baby…that’s my only son.”
For full story, see:
There’s been a lot of organizing in Vallejo following the horrifically violent murder of Mario Romero by the Vallejo Police Department on September 2, 2012. Mario Romero was sitting in his car in front of his home with his brother-in-law when police opened fire on both men. Over 30 rounds were fired into the car, and Mario’s sister, Cynquita, saw the killing unfold. Their brother in law, who was protected by Mario’s body, lived through the barrage. The family of Mario and the community around them has refused to take this quietly.
There have been rallies, marches, community meetings, and press conferences. In the latest of an ongoing series of responses to this violence, the Reverend Floyd D. Harris, Jr., president of the National Network in Action, invited Berkeley Copwatch to Vallejo on Saturday, September 15th, 2012 to present a Know Your Rights Training, to discuss ways to document police activity and organize against police violence, and to meet with Vallejo civilians to discuss the role of police in all of our communities. We met at the Vallejo Police Station, and then moved to the park in the afternoon sunlight.
There was an impressive community presence: long time and senior members of the Vallejo community, including Native American activist and allies, young people and mothers, families who have also lost loved ones to the police, including the family of Guy Jarreau, Jr. (killed by police on December 11, 2012) and vibrant children everywhere. Among these gathered was Mario’s family. It is difficult to put words to how the Romero family showed up there. In numbers alone, they are a presence. But it is something beyond this that affirms the family as something to reckon with, a force. They were massively pulled together and sharp and strong. They bore witness to the violence as a family.
We offer, again, our immense solidarity with this family, and our sadness with their loss.
There are stories in Vallejo about the police that are disturbing, and that echo stories from Oakland to Anaheim, and towns across California. There is the unrelenting killings of black and brown men that rise weekly in this state. There is the immediate and sprawling devastation that is wreaked on families and friends, on the circles and layers of communities affected by each police killing. And other stories emerge–the chilling details that speak to neighborhoods terrorized by police: where cops practice “predatory policing” (in these cases, specific people or families remain targets for years, even generations); where cops repetitively shine lights into the same people’s living rooms night after night; where cop cars roll up on innocent civilians with their lights off, or plain clothes cops crash a scene without uniforms, and violence follows; where violence by cops is investigated internally, by the cops themselves; where ambulances don’t arrive for extended periods after a police shooting, no matter how close the hospitals are; where cops make a traffic stop and the first question they ask the driver is, “Where’d you get this car?”
Everyone there knows the figures: Mario’s killing was the seventh police shooting since May of this year in Vallejo, five of these were deadly. To be clear: Five people have been killed by police in Vallejo since May of this year. Vallejo has a population of roughly 117,000, with a per capita income of $26,000 and an unemployment rate from two years ago at 15.8%. People are being killed in front of their homes in Vallejo, and the community has no access to the names of officers who have used deadly force against their community in the past and who remain on the force. Even in cases where they may have fired, say, 30 rounds into a car. And, as is far too common in cases of police murders, families have difficulty accessing the autopsy reports. And, as in the recent incident, when families and friends and others in solidarity and anger organize rallies that demand answers, the Chief of Police won’t come out to meet them and address their concerns.
We saw a lot of homemade buttons with Mario’s pictures on them, commemorating his life cut short. We saw Guy Jarreau Jr.’s family wearing t-shirts with the date and street names of the intersection of Guy’s murder remembered on the front of the shirt, and a picture of Guy. We waited to start the training because the family was holding a car wash to raise funds for the funeral.
Berkeley Copwatch stands with the family of Mario Romero, Guy Jarreau Jr., and all the other people shot by police in Vallejo. In these struggles for justice and safety, we remain committed to offer whatever solidarity, training, and resources we can to support Vallejo Copwatch and other police accountability initiatives.
In Vallejo, as in Oakland, Berkeley and across California, we need transparency into police behavior that cannot be achieved as long as Copley, the Police Bill of Rights, and the Caloca Boards are in place to protect police behavior from public scrutiny. It is from this reality that the task of patient documenting of police behavior becomes a critical aspect of a larger struggle to redefine community safety, combined with gathering together to share what we have seen, what we know. These gatherings are inspiring, and in these spaces, we find each other to fight back.
Watch this interview with Mario’s sister Cynquita to see some of what is going on in Vallejo:
For local coverage of the recent Berkeley Copwatch training, see
Check this out for a personal account of Guy Jarreau Jr.’s murder by his brother Joshua Henry:
For more information about the killing and the vigil, please see:
All of seven officers are on paid leave for the Taser and beating death of an unarmed man, while the Mayor is in favor of a “resolution that will calm the community”. Community pressure remains the most effective site for accountability. For the full story, see:
This is a reminder that Berkeley Copwatch will be hosting an event this coming Sunday, April at the Grassroots House. This is the second part in our Civilians’ Investigation Series:
Conducting Reliable Investigations: Workshop with Ali Winston.
12 noon to 2pm.
What are some ways that civilians can research police? When we witness brutality or misconduct involving law enforcement, are there empowering and credible ways to follow up on these incidents? What are effective methods and practices for gathering information and learning about relevant laws and policies? Can we initiate civilian investigations into police department practices? Can we access information or records on individual officers? What are the legal boundaries that need to be acknowledged when doing this kind of research? In this workshop, journalist Ali Winston will discuss the current climate that allows departments and individual officers to act under a cloak of legal and procedural protections. He will go over effective investigation strategies towards collecting evidence and following up on police misconduct. This will lead into a discussion about these issues, and next steps forward.
The Berkeley Copwatch Civilian Investigations workshop series is collectively imagined with numerous activists and stakeholders. We hope these conversations will generate new ideas and strategies for holding police accountable, and to build civilian power to address policing issues in all of our communities.
Ali Winston is journalist who has reported extensively on law enforcement in the Bay Area. His work addresses misconduct, corruption, brutality, racism, surveillance, gang injunctions, federalization, use of force, the Occupy movement, and other policing issues, both spectacular and every day. His work in Oakland draws important connections between the police, city hall, and business owners, and he also addresses the role of federal law enforcement in local policing issues. Ali currently writes for the East Bay Bay Express, and his work has appeared across many papers and sites. For a serious stretch of cutting edge reporting for The Informant, he wrote almost exclusively on local policing issues, creating an archive of policing practices that included original raw documents–policies, memos, reports and other documents directly from the departments that use force against us. This work has had a significant impact on public awareness, understanding, and action in the Bay Area, and we are delighted Ali will be joining us this Sunday.
Hope to see you there.
Grassroots House is located at 2022 Blake Street, 10 minute walk from Downtown Berkeley BART
See Ali’s work in Colorlines:
Interview with Denika Chatman on her son’s recent killing by San Francisco Police Department for not paying his $2.00 train fare. His slow death, and the lack of medical assistance provided, was well documented on civilian video recordings at the scene. His mother recounts her son’s life, and her relations with the police, including a SWAT team that was sent to her house following the killing:
“The way that the police have been talking to me, degrading me – they feel like they have the right to do it to me.”
Interview by Natasha Reid for the SF Bayview Newspaper:
Willie Ratcliff reports on the SFPD killing of 19 year old Kenneth Harding on 3rd Street between Palou and Oakdale in Bayview Hunter’s Point on July 16th:
Ratcliff quotes Sister Halimah Allah from Los Angeles: “As I watch another Black man – shot down in the street like a mad dog by occupation forces paid for by our tax dollars and 456 years of dehumanization – I read accounts of the incident and wonder: What is this young man’s name? Who are his people: family, friends etc.? Does he have a mother? Does she know her son is dead? (Peace be upon him.)”
Ratcliff also writes:
“The San Francisco Municipal Railway, known as Muni, has followed up major rate increases in recent years with greatly intensified police fare enforcement, imposing heavy fines and even jail time for riders who are unable to prove by showing a paper transfer that they paid their fare.”
See the SF BayView Newspaper, July 17th, 2011