From 2000-2011, 89 officer-involved shootings were reported in Oakland. Only 5 of those shot were white.
On February 22, 2013, officers from OPD (Oakland Police Department), CHP (California Highway Patrol) and the Alameda Sheriff’s Department descended on an apartment in West Oakland in search of a possibly armed man.
As police surrounded the property at MacArthur Blvd. and Market St., the man inside became distraught, breaking windows and yelling.
It was the perfect equation for what is known in police circles as “justifiable homicide.” If an officer can articulate how they were in “fear for their safety” or the “safety of others,” then they know they can shoot with impunity.
To the surprise of onlookers, OPD did not shoot the man. Any guesses as to why?
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.
(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.
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:
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
TELL BPD TO STOP DISAPPEARING PEOPLE!
Please read the following witness statements:
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.
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.
Originally posted on Indybay.org
On February 12, 2013 Officers from the Berkeley Police Department killed a transperson named Kayla Moore. In the days to follow, BPD would remain silent on how Kayla died.
As the weeks passed, Berkeley Copwatch was able to get Kayla’s identity from the coroner, and on February 28th they held a press conference with others groups and community members to call for an investigation into Kayla’s suspicious death.
This is Berkeley Copwatch’s press release:
This is a statement in response to the February 12th death of an individual named Xavier Christopher Moore. She died during a situation we believe was instigated by the Berkeley Police Department, at her apartment on the fifth floor of 2116 Allston Way, the Gaia Building. Moore has been referred to as a man in police and media reports, but Moore lived her life as a woman, so out of respect we will refer to Moore as “she.”
The BPD’s press release of February 13th says that they responded to “a disturbance call” at Moore’s apartment. Media reports have said this call was related to mental health. If she was going through a mental health crisis, was anyone present trained to respond to that kind of situation, to evaluate, and deescalate? According to an article from February 26th in the Oakland Tribune: “Berkeley: Man who died after struggle with police was severely mentally ill,” rather than take her to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation, when they found out she had an outstanding warrant in San Francisco, they told her they were going to arrest her.
An article in the San Francisco Chronicle dated February 13th “Man dies in struggle with Berkeley police,” mentions “a disturbance between roommates,” as causing the police to arrive. The Daily Californian February 14th article “Man dies after being taken into police custody,” says that other residents heard a “commotion on the fifth floor of the building before the officers arrived on the scene.” None of the witnesses we spoke to heard any sort of commotion or disturbance until after the police arrived. Why the consistent difference? In fact, the police were at Moore’s apartment twice that night. This isn’t mentioned at all by the police or media reports. The police first showed up around 11:00pm, and left without incident. The incident resulting in Moore’s death was the second police visit, occurring around 11:50pm. According to witnesses, when they returned a second time, there was a sizable police presence. Why did they come back an hour later with so many officers? What were they preparing to do?
Perhaps the overriding issue here is that the Berkeley Police haven’t made any public statement except for their initial press release. The coroner, NOT the police department released Moore’s name. Can a person die during a contact with police – whatever the circumstances – and the police just don’t say anything? Is it because there is an ongoing investigation? Nonsense. When the police don’t release this basic information, something is very wrong. It greatly restricts the potential for accountability.
This gross situation is partly a result of a lack of police oversight in Berkeley. The effectiveness of the Police Review Commission has decreased, and police responses to situations have become increasingly violent. The situation for people of color, young people, houseless people, and those on the margins has steadily deteriorated in recent years. Likewise, our ability to bring issues to the attention of the Police Review Commission, and to have cases heard fairly has decreased. New regulations that are completely biased against complainants make it almost impossible to sustain complaints against a police officer. We can expect more tragic incidents of this kind if nothing changes.
We believe that an unarmed, obese, and schizophrenic woman in her own home should have been responded to by, if anything, mental health professionals. NOT armed police. According to a February 26th article in the Oakland Tribune, the police “originally were going to take him to Alta Bates hospital in Berkeley for a psychiatric evaluation, but then they discovered an outstanding warrant for assault from San Francisco, and police told him they would have to arrest him. At that point he became combative she [Elysse Paige-Moore, Xavier’s stepmother] said.” Was it really more important to arrest her, than to deal with a psychiatric episode that may have brought them there in the first place?
We believe there needs to be an open People’s Investigation. We do not believe the police or the district attorney are concerned with conducting an impartial investigation. We will evaluate the circumstances of this case ourselves.
Berkeley Copwatch is calling immediately for the following:
1) Access to dispatch records to determine what the police who responded to the call were told before they arrived. A Public Records Act request has been filed regarding this, and we expect documents to be released in full and without delay.
2) Access to all police reports, witness statements, and related information to this case.
According to an article at Salon.com, from December 10 of last year “Half of people shot by police are mentally ill, investigation finds,” not only are many people who are killed by the police mentally ill, but police aren’t properly trained in how to deal with mental illness. Another article from Bloomberg.com, from December 27 of last year “Bullets are safety net as 64 mentally ill die at hands of police,” states that the number of mentally ill people killed by the police increased three times from 2009-2012.
The police version of this entire story does not match reports of witnesses, and is suspicious in and of itself. The silence around this incident is of great concern.
Despite community outcry, the Berkeley Police Department still did not come forward with any information.
On March 12, one month after the killing, a autonomous protest was held in Berkeley by concerned people from around the Bay Area. Instead of bringing answers, Berkeley police brought undercover units, who fanned out into the crowd and attempted to identify “leaders” of what was in fact a leaderless march. The march started in People’s Park, went to the police station, and ended back by the park without incident.
This video was shot by Tom V., contributor for Political Fail Blog
If Berkeley police put as much time, money, and energy into the investigation of Kayla Moore’s death as they did into this particular march, the “investigation” could have been completed weeks ago.