Berkeley Group Seeks Police Review Commission Hearing on Death of Mentally Ill Person

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday October 16, 2013 - 09:40:00 PM

Several community groups are presenting a petition today to compel the Berkeley Police Review Commission to hold a special hearing on the death of a mentally ill transgender woman who died in a struggle with officers in February. 

Diana Bohn, of the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley, said about 100 people have signed the petition, which stemmed from the death of Xavier Moore, 41, who identified as Kayla Moore. 

Moore died shortly after a struggle with police at Moore's apartment at the Gaia Building in the 2100 block of Allston Way shortly before midnight on Feb. 12. 

Only 50 signatures are needed to compel the Police Review Commission to hold a hearing on the matter, Bohn said. 

Andrea Pritchett, of Berkeley Copwatch, said, "We're asking for a special meeting to present the findings of our investigation" into Moore's death. 

Pritchett said the "people's investigation" into Moore's death found that Moore shouldn't have died, and that the city of Berkeley needs to spend more money on services for mentally ill people and train more police officers on how to respond to calls involving the mentally ill. 

Berkeley police said in a lengthy report in May that they believed Moore's death was an accident and that the physical force officers used to restrain Moore was "reasonable." 

Police said the Alameda County coroner's bureau ruled that Moore died of acute combined drug intoxication involving methamphetamine and codeine, and that an enlarged heart and morbid obesity contributed to her death. 

According to police, Moore weighed 347 pounds, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was a heavy smoker. 

Officers had responded to Moore's apartment on Feb. 12 after her roommate reported that Moore was acting aggressively and that he feared for his safety. 

Moore's sister, Maria Moore, said today that Moore was simply off of her medication and "was not out of control." She s aid police should have just made sure Moore was safe and then moved along. 

Officers initially put Moore in restraints but removed them after she became unresponsive. She later died at a hospital. 

Maria Moore said she believes the shortage of funding for mental health services in Berkeley was one of the causes of Moore's death. 

She said her family plans to file a lawsuit against the city of Berkeley and its police department seeking damages for Moore's death. 

Spokespersons for the Police Department and the Police Review Commission weren't immediately available for comment today. 

The group that gathered the signatures was planning a news conference late this afternoon in front of the commission's office at the Veterans Memorial Building at 1947 Center St. in Berkeley.