Berkeley Police Delay Release of Coroner’s Report on Black Transgendered Woman’s Death in Custody

(Repost from AnnGarrison.com)
KPFA’s Ann Garrison interviews Berkeley Copwatch founder Andrea Pritchett about the Kayla Moore killing by the Berkeley Police Department

KPFA Evening News, 04.06.2013
In February KPFA News reported on Black transgendered Berkeley resident Kayla Moore’s death in Berkeley Police custody, after a violent struggle with police at her apartment on Allston Way on February 12th. Earlier this week Berkeley Copwatch, which has been conducting a citizen investigation of Moore’s death, contacted KPFA to say that the coroner’s autopsy report on the cause of Moore’s death will be withheld indefinitely at the request of the Berkeley Police Department.
KPFA spoke to Berkeley Copwatch founder Andrea Prichett, who said that she and other Berkeley Copwatchers plan to attend the Berkeley City Council meeting on April 30th, at City Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Berkeley, at 7 pm.

Click here for more WeCopwatch coverage of Kayla Moore

Oakland Officer Involved Shooting Is Kept Off The Radio

On April 5th, 2013, Oakland police were notified of an alleged burglary in progress in West Oakland, California.

While information about the incident is still emerging, OPD has stated that one of the suspects was carrying a fake gun and did not know police were setting up a perimeter around the house. He was subsequently shot in the shoulder by an officer as he attempted to leave the area.

This is the 2nd OPD officer-involved shooting this week. On the evening of April 3rd, an Oakland officer shot an innocent teenager in the face while investigating an armed robbery in downtown Oakland. The teenager’s jaw and cheek were grazed, but his injuries are not considered life-threatening. OPD has since stated that the minor and his friends were not involved in a crime. Click here to see more about the April 3rd shooting 

Police officers have the right to defend themselves, just like anybody else. However, it will be interesting to see if the suspect shot today posed any threat to the officers. If he didn’t aim the gun at anyone, OPD’s standard procedure is to order the person to drop the weapon and to submit to arresting officers.

Fortunately, video of the incident will ultimately reveal what, if any, threat the suspect posed. All Oakland police are required to wear and activate their PDRD video cameras during police stops. If the officers involved in today’s shooting were following PDRD procedure, their cameras should have been rolling.

One thing that should raise alarm is the fact that OPD were advised to keep any mention of the shooting off the radio. (Watch the final moments of the featured video.)

This silence may be because the Oakland Police Department, like the Berkeley Police Department and countless others, controls the message after they shoot someone.

Click here for more WeCopwatch coverage of Kayla Moore and the Berkeley Police Coverup


Answers! Not Undercovers!

Austin Grand Jury Indicts Peaceful Streets Activists, Fails to Hold Aggressive Police Accountable

peaceful-streets-project-logoThis is a repost from Copblock of a press release sent-out by their friends active with Peaceful Streets Project on April 3rd, 2013
_______________________________

GRAND JURY FAILS TO INDICT BUEHLER OR OBORSKI ON FELONY CHARGES;

INDICTS ANTONIO BUEHLER, NORMA PIZANA, SARAH DICKERSON ON MISDEMEANORS

Four weeks after convening, the Travis County Grand Jury chose not to issue any felony indictments against Antonio Buehler or Austin Police Department (APD) Officer Patrick Oborski related to their New Year’s Day 2012 incident.

On New Year’s Day 2012, Oborski observed a car that was being driven without its headlights on West 6th street in downtown Austin, and pulled the car over at the 7-11 on N. Lamar and W. 10th Street. While Oborski was conducting a field sobriety test behind the vehicle, Norma Pizana who was a passenger in the vehicle, yelled from the passenger seat to the driver that the driver did not have to submit to a sobriety test. Oborski walked up to the car, leaned in and told Pizana not to “interfere” with his investigation, and then returned to the driver to continue the field sobriety test. However, according to the Penal Code, speech is not sufficient to “interfere” with an investigation, and Pizana was never charged with such a crime. After Pizana was told to stop attempting to communicate with the driver of the vehicle, APD Officer Robert Snider arrived on the scene and began to speak to Pizana.

Antonio Buehler, who was a designated driver that night, pulled into the same 7-11 as he was driving a friend home, in order to refuel the truck he was driving. When he finished fueling up, Buehler and his passenger, Ben Munoz, began to get back into their truck when they heard Pizana scream violently. They turned and saw Snider violently pulling Pizana out of the vehicle, and then throwing her down on the ground. As Pizana continued to cry out in pain, Oborski joined in and they began to apply continued upward pressure on her arms in what is considered a torture move by the U.S. Military and Federal Government. At that moment, Buehler tried to take pictures of what he believed was a violent assault. When Pizana noticed him taking pictures, she begged him to record the incident, and Buehler then began to demand that the cops stop abusing Pizana. Although Pizana was seated in her car, was not a threat to herself or the public, and her driver had not yet been arrested, she was arrested for Public Intoxication, a Class C misdemeanor.

After Snider and Oborski handcuffed Pizana and began escorting her to a squad car, Oborski turned and walked aggressively toward Buehler, got in Buehler’s face, and asked “who do you think you are?” Video shows that Buehler put his arms down by his side, with his palms forward in a non-threatening manner as he took a couple steps back, while Oborski continued to step toward Antonio and into his personal space. Video then shows Oborski violently thrusting his hands into the chest of Buehler a few times, pushing Buehler back until he was trapped between the bed of the truck he had been driving and Officer Oborski. After repeatedly and forcefully pushing Buehler in the chest, while Buehler kept his arms raised with palms facing forward, Oborski then attempted to arrest Buehler.

After Buehler was taken to the BAT Mobile and coerced into blowing into a breathalyzer machine, and being told by the technician that Buehler “broke” the machine by “blowing too hard”, he was then escorted to a transport vehicle where Oborski allegedly told Buehler that “you don’t f*** with police, you f***d with the wrong cop this time and now you’re going to f***ng pay”, after which he was transferred to Travis County Jail where he was charged with Felony Harassment of a Public Official, a 3rd Degree Felony, and Resisting Arrest, a Class A misdemeanor.

When Buehler was released from prison the next day, he was told by Ben Munoz that witnesses were present at the scene of the arrest, although the police prevented the witnesses from sharing their contact information with Munoz. Buehler immediately began to post fliers around the 7-11 location, and use social media to implore witnesses to step forward. Several witnesses did step forward, to include one who took cell phone video of the incident which proves that Oborski lied in his affidavit (Buehler never spit on Oborski; Oborski never wiped his face).

Despite about a half dozen witnesses that stepped forward willing to swear under oath that Pizana did not assault Snider and that Buehler did not spit in Oborski’s face, the cell phone video, the 7-11 surveillance video, audio from both Oborski and Snider, and self-incriminating lies written up in the affidavits of Oborski and Snider, the Austin Police Department and the District Attorney continued to press forward with the charges against Buehler and Pizana. In addition, 11 days after the initial arrests, and after Pizana shared her story of abuse with the media, the Austin Police Department filed two new charges against Pizana for resisting arrest and failure to obey a lawful order.

The Grand Jury did not indict Buehler for either the felony harassment of a public official charge or the resisting arrest charge. Instead they indicted him for failure to obey a lawful order, a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. The Grand Jury did not indict Pizana for public intoxication or failure to obey a lawful order. They did, however, indict her for resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in the Travis County Jail.

In the 15 months since the New Year’s Day incident, Buehler and other Austin activists launched the Peaceful Streets Project to fight back against police abuse, corruption and misconduct. They have held over a dozen Know Your Rights Trainings, a summit where they handed out 100 video cameras to needy residents of Austin, dozens of Police Abuse Complaint Departments and scores of cop watch events.

[Related video from YouTube.com/TheCopBlock]

The Grand Jury also returned indictments against Antonio Buehler for failure to obey a lawful order, a Class C misdemeanor, for filming police on August 24th, August 26th and September 21st, 2012.  Sarah Dickerson was also indicted for failure to obey a lawful order while filming police during the September 21st, 2012 incident.

A City of Austin Municipal Ordinance requires a person to comply with an order of a peace officer and prohibits a person from obstructing or interfering with an officer engaged in his official duties.  Violation of this ordinance is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. However, there was no evidence that either Buehler or Dickerson ever obstructed or interfered with an officer engaged in his official duties. Further, Austin Police Department policy (p. 106) clearly states that officers are not to “[i]n any way threaten, intimidate or otherwise discourage an individual from recording  officer’s enforcement activities”, which is exactly what APD did to Buehler and Dickerson in each one of the instances in which they were charged with “failure to obey a lawful order”.

In all, the Grand Jury met on six occasions and heard from 13 witnesses, including Antonio Buehler and Officer Patrick Oborski, although they did not hear from either Buehler or Dickerson regarding the post-New Year’s Day incidents, nor any of the Peaceful Streets Project volunteers who witnessed those incidents.  The felony charges considered by the Grand Jury were tampering with a governmental record by Officer Oborski as well as harassment of a public servant by Antonio Buehler.  The Grand Jury also considered whether Officer Oborski committed official oppression. However, the Grand Jury did not consider any charges against Officer Snider, nor did the Grand Jury did consider felony charges of Aggravated Perjury or Aggravated Assault against Oborski or Snider.

The Class A misdemeanor for Pizana will be transferred to County Court and will be handled by the County Attorney’s Office.  The Class C misdemeanor cases for Buehler and Dickerson will be transferred to Municipal Court where they will be handled by Municipal Court prosecutors.

Media Contacts:

  • Richard Boland, Peaceful Streets Project, 512.538.6998, rwboland@gmail.com
  • Antonio Buehler, Peaceful Streets Project, 512.785.3767, antonio@buehlered.com
  • John Bush, Peaceful Streets Project, 512.773.6102, johnbush512@gmail.com
  • Harold Gray, Peaceful Streets Project, 512.949.8185, haroldgray111@gmail.com
  • Joshua Pineda, Peaceful Streets Project, 409.679.3065, pisceincarnate@gmail.com

Austin Police Department:

Peaceful Streets:

Breaking Down (Police Hurt Mental Health)

Police often cite the dangers of their job as justification for use of force. On any given day in Oakland, you can see Oakland officers with guns drawn, chasing, surrounding, arresting.


Breaking Down (Police Hurt Mental Health)

When someone gets hurt or arrested, we’re lead to believe that they are criminals or they weren’t compliant. We’re told that the cops were in fear for their safety, and that force had to be used.

In these stories, we are told to overlook the serious issues in play. For instance, we’re asked to overlook poverty, and how police contribute to poverty by stopping, ticketing, and arresting members of the public. The police would also prefer that the public consider mental health an issue suitable for law enforcement.

Mental health issues are not crimes, but in a city like Oakland, where schools and other public resources are getting shut down left and right, mental health incidents are under OPD’s jurisdiction.

Oakland Police Didn’t Shoot Someone?

But even in Berkeley, a city known for their supposed tolerance of people with disabilities, the city’s “toothless” mental health team is sometimes dispatched to incidents alongside the police. How do police make these situations better?

For many people in crisis, the presence of police doesn’t have a calming effect. In fact, police often escalate mental health situations by attempting to restrain an individual. (A cop is trained to think that if they are not in control, then they are in danger, a mentality that doesn’t serve well amongst people in mental anguish.)

If the recent killing of Kayla Moore by Berkeley police shows us anything, it’s that the police are incapable of de-escalating tense situations where criminal enforcement has no place.


Answers! Not Undercovers!

Oakland has also lost its share of people due to officers who blur the line between use of force and aide. If mental health advocates truly existed in Oakland, Parnell Smith, Brownie Polk, Matt Cicelski, and many more might still be with us here today.

Oakland Police Department’s Policy around Mental Health

Oakland Police Mental Health Policy

Want To Start A Copwatch?

Over the years, Copwatch groups have spread across the nation and world.

If you are interested in starting a Copwatch group, reach out to your community and find like-minded folks. Read up on your rights (local, state, and federal). Check in with the greater public about Copwatch and see how they feel about it. If it’s a need that makes sense, go out and do it, and be great!

Here are some resources Berkeley Copwatch has used in Know Your Rights trainings over the years.

These Streets Are Watching

These Streets are Watching is a 50 minute video on police accountability in three communities; Denver, Cincinnati and Berkeley. The video documents incidents of possible police brutality. Independent filmmaker Jacob Crawford weaves three cities’ responses to police brutality into a single tale of community empowerment and direct action. The film conveys basic legal concepts that can provide practical help to groups and individuals seeking an understanding of their rights when dealing with police. The film is divided into sections that explain citizen’s basic rights, tactics for documenting police activity, and ideas for further action and organizing. These Streets Are Watching has been screened across the United States and has played on television across the United States.

Berkeley Copwatch Handbook

Berkeley Copwatch Handbook by WeCopwatch

Meet Your Neighborhood Drones

(repost from SF Weekly, written by Kate Conger, photo by Kate Conger)
Last week, a video surfaced on YouTube of what appeared to be a drone hovering over a residential neighborhood in West Oakland. Filmed by videographer Jacob Crawford, the eerie unmanned aircraft was held aloft by several mini helicopter-like blades with blinking red-and-green lights.

Drones have been a pressing issue for our friends across the Bay; in December, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department incited anger and paranoia when it revealed plans to buy its own drone, for whatever reason. However, the $31,646 item was put on hold after the American Civil Liberties Union accused the Sheriff’s Department of trying to slip it past East Bay folks without enough public vetting. Sheriff Greg Ahern assured the Chronicle that he would only use the drone for “mission-specific incidents” such as search-and-rescue missions.

Ahern, who says he doesn’t have his own drone, has insisted the aircraft would not be for spying on civilians. So then why did Crawford’s video include a clip of Ahern talking about how the unmanned aircraft had great surveillance potential?

Specifically, he says, “We wouldn’t use it for Occupy Oakland movement; however, I’m not going to tell you we wouldn’t use it in the event that a crowd turned violent and and started vandalizing or harming people.”

So if the drone above doesn’t belong to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, then whose is it?

The device belongs to a hobbyist named Cody Oliver, who reached out to Crawford when he saw the YouTube video. If you keep up with the tech world, Oliver’s name may ring a bell — he was a developer of the early P2P file-sharing network Gnutella and made the news last year when he stumbled upon cobbled-together Pentagon lightning guns while building tricked-out cars for Burning Man.

When asked about the privacy issues a civilian drone might present, he told SF Weekly, “In the day and age of nanny cams I don’t think anyone has any privacy now. If someone wants to watch you, $50 bucks and a hidden cam is all that is needed.” But he also assured us that he has no intentions of using his drones (yes, he’s collecting) for surveillance. Instead, he’s working on a terrain-mapping project for a friend. The flight captured on Crawford’s video was intended to test the aircraft for stability — the small propellers cause a vibration that can interfere with the craft’s GPS.

Oliver also wasn’t content with the term “drone” for his aircraft. Hobbyists call them UAVs — unmanned aerial vehicles — and aren’t very happy about the legislative attempts to regulate their flights. In a forum about UAVs, one user wrote, “The entire community should stop using the word ‘drone.’ Drones, to me, are UAVs used for surveillance. That’s what people are afraid of, the loss of privacy, not the aircraft itself. Stop associating with that. We have RC toys that we use for fun, not surveillance.”

And as entertaining as some civilians find drones, companies are also noticing their potential for commercial use. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forbids commercial drone operation, and in January, the LAPD told off real estate agents for using them to create life-like walkthrough videos of their properties.

With the popularity of UAVs already on the rise, we’re sure to see many more of them in the sky by 2015, when the FAA will release regulations allowing commercially operated drones in the United States. According to Government Technology, the FAA predicts that as many as 15,000 drones will take flight by 2020. And although the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department hasn’t obtained one yet, 17 police departments across the country have applied for FAA permission to fly UAVs.

Whatever you think of drones, just know, they’ll soon be flying in a neighborhood near you.

Original Video Posted By Jacob Crawford

Right to Videotape Policy (Got One?)

When Berkeley Copwatch formed back in 1990, police were initially resistant to the idea of people watching them with video cameras. Some copwatchers would be harassed or even arrested for documenting police stops. But with conflict, there came resolution. The Berkeley Police Department eventually created a departmental policy known as “Bulletin 91” which required the Berkeley police to provide the least amount of restrictions to civilian oversight of the police during contained situations.

While the public has the right to observe and videotape police during the course of their duty, if you intend to pro-actively monitor the police, it doesn’t hurt to pressure your local department to develop a policy that outlines their requirement of officers to respect people’s right to observe.

Below are several examples of different cities’ copwatch policies:

Denver Police’s Copwatch Policy

Denver Police Training Bulletin (Regarding Copwatch) by WeCopwatch

NYPD’s Policy (Page 25)

NYPD Patrol Guide (Outlining Public’s Right to Observe) by WeCopwatch

New Haven PD’s Policy

New Haven Police Order 311 Citizens Right to Video by WeCopwatch

Chevy Chase Village Police Department’s Policy

Chevy Chase Village Police Department’s police on the Right to Videotape Police by WeCopwatch

Berkeley Copwatch Brutality Alert: Where is Jeremy Carter?

By Berkeley Copwatch
On March 13, 2013, Jeremy Carter was brutally arrested by members of the Berkley Police Department. He has disappeared. As they did in the killing of Kayla Moore, Berkeley police refuse to provide any details.

This incident is especially disturbing for several reasons.

Where is Jeremy Carter? The man in this video says his name is Jeremy Carter. Berkeley Copwatch has contacted Berkeley police, Santa Rita jail and John George Hospital. As of 3/16/13 none of these institutions has a record of any interaction with this person. WE DEMAND THAT BPD RELEASE INFORMATION ABOUT PERSONS TAKEN INTO THEIR CUSTODY AND THE NAMES OF PEOPLE WHO DIE IN THEIR CUSTODY.

According to witnesses, this person was not violent or resisting the officers involved. Although it was alleged that he had a stay-away order related to the library, he was not alleged to have harmed himself or anyone else. Were police justified in taking this person into custody and were they justified in using the level of force and restraints shown in this video?

According to dispatch records and the officer, this encounter became a “mental health” evaluation. If this is how people with mental health issues are treated in Berkeley at 11:30 a.m. on a busy city street, it raises troubling questions about what happened to Kayla (Xavier) Moore on February 12 in Berkeley when police decided to do a “medical eval” on her in her home. She died and if this is how BPD approaches these types of encounters, it is likely that BPD escalated the situation and then used great physical force on her.

Why are Berkeley officers continuing to harass bystanders who attempt to monitor the actions of officers? Why are they putting their hands on copwatchers?

CONTACT THE MAYOR AND THE BERKELEY CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS

DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY!

TELL BPD TO STOP DISAPPEARING PEOPLE!

Please read the following witness statements:

Witness #1:

At approximately 11:20 on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, I witnessed the Berkeley police act in an inexplicably violent and brutal manner toward citizen Jeremy Carter. They acted without provocation.

My co-worker and I were on a coffee break from our jobs in the Human Resources Department of Berkeley Unified School District. We parked on Kitteredge near Shattuck. As we pulled into the parking spot, I saw two officers standing on either side of what appeared to be an African-American youth in front of the Berkeley Public Library, directly across the street from where we had parked. An officer was holding the man’s arm behind his back in what appeared to be an awkward, unnatural angle. Concerned that he was a Berkeley High School student, we exited the car to approach. When we were approximately half way across the street, approximately four additional officers arrived and the young man was thrown and was being held down on the cement. My co-worker returned to get her phone from the car as I proceeded across the street.

I witnessed the young man passively submit to several officers placing a mesh hood taut on his face and proceed to place him in a restraining jacket and then hog-tie him. There was blood smeared across the tight mesh hood at his mouth. I never lost sight of the young man from the time he was standing passively with his arm held behind his back to the time he was on the ground, hooded, bound and bloodied. The young man never showed any resistance, neither physically nor verbally. In fact, as he lay passively, he apologized and told the officers he was scared several times. By this time, several people gathered to watch this horrifying scene, several of whom questioned the police action as the young man was clearly passive, scared and injured. The police reacted aggresively toward the onlookers . At one point, Officer Badge #18 crossed into the street where my co-worker Tracie De Angelis was filming on her cell phone, and violently and aggressively pushed her backward! Moments before he had warned her to back up by pushing her less aggressively.

She complied by moving into the street where he followed her, pushing her harder. I have never witnessed police officers so out of control and impervious to the safety and welfare of citizens. At no time did the restrained young man resist in any way, nor did anyone witnessing the police action act in a way that could be construed as interfering other than to observe, film, and express horror and concern for the young man. When asked by an observer what the young man had done, Officer Badge 18 # responded that he did not have to disclose that. Several people verbalized that the young man needed medical attention, and several of us considered calling 911 ourselves. Finally, after over half an hour of being bloodied, an ambulance arrived whereupon the frightened, passive and injured young man was loaded onto a stretcher, fully wrapped and hooded. This young man, who identified himself as Jeremy Carter, was never the least bit aggressive in any way from the time I spotted him standing upright with his arm pulled behind his back, to the time he was carted away on a stretcher.

As a 45-year old mother and Berkeley School employee, I am shocked by what I witnessed today — the total disregard for human dignity and safety by the Berkeley police, as well as their demonstration of utter disdain for the everyday citizens expressing concern and exercising right of assembly and speech while showing caring and concern for a fellow citizen who was clearly being abused and injured.

Witness #2:

At approximately 11:20 a.m. today, March 13, 2013, I witnessed an incident of police brutality of a young, black man on Kittredge Street in Berkeley. I parked on Kittredge street for my coffee break. At first there were two cop cars with the young man. This took place in front of Berkeley Public Library. The cop cars were parked at different angles: one coming from Milvia, one coming from Shattuck. At the beginning, they had the young man with his arm behind his back. We then got out of the car to make sure that nothing further escalated. The next thing we saw was he was put onto the ground face down. He had not resisted arrest. At this point we were not sure why they put him on the ground.

At that point I went to get my phone to film. Somewhere in between the time they put him facedown and I got my phone, another three or four cop cars arrived. The rest I have on videotape but what I can describe is they put a spit mask on him and they hogtied him. You can hear on the videotape that the young man was very scared. He was not resisting arrest at any point in time. At one point, Officer number 18 pushed me. You can see on the video. He also pushed me a second time when I was out in the street and threatened to arrest me. The other badge number I could get was number 27. It was when I tried to get closer to get the other officers badge numbers that Officer number 18 pushed me. I asked them what they were arresting him for. They would not tell me. I asked them why they hogtied him. They told me he was being violent and aggressive. At no point did I see him be violent or aggressive.

All of it is on videotape and you can see from the video tape that the young man was very scared and was not resisting. I asked him his name. His name was Jeremy Carter. I tried to find out from TJ Curtin who was the sergeant on duty what he was being arrested for, what crime he committed and where they were going to take him: I understand this is to be public information but he would not give me any of that information. At one point I saw blood coming out of Jeremy’s mouth and I was not sure what this was from; perhaps when they put him facedown he was injured. I asked on the videotape (you can hear) if they would be bringing an ambulance because he was bleeding from his mouth. The ambulance did arrive and they put him on a gurney and they would not tell me where they were taking him. You can hear on the tape that I did ask TJ Curtain, the seargent, some questions that he refused to answer. This is a case of police brutality and aggression on a young man who was not a threat in any way.

Anybody with any information please contact Berkeley Copwatch at 510-548-0425.