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Family of Murder Victim Criticizes Berkeley Police

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday April 13, 2012 - 02:41:00 PM

The son of a 67-year-old man who was killed outside his home in the Berkeley hills two months ago today disputed statements by Berkeley police that his father called a non-emergency phone number to report an intruder. 

Peter Cukor, who owned a logistics consulting firm, was killed outside his home at 2 Park Gate Road at about 9 p.m. on Feb. 18. 

Chistopher Cukor, 37, said, "My father called the correct Berkeley police emergency number that is listed on their website." 

Cukor said he finds police Chief Michael Meehan's statement that his father only called a non-emergency number "very disturbing" and said "other citizens should be concerned as well." 

Cukor was joined by his brother, 34-year-old Alexander Cukor, at a news conference in the office of Oakland attorney R. Lewis Van Blois. 

Christopher Cukor said his family hasn't yet decided whether to file a lawsuit against Berkeley police. 

Van Blois said, "This tragic death should not have happened," and he accused Berkeley police of "making misstatements about what happened." 

Meehan said at a March 8 community forum that Peter Cukor made a non-emergency call to police at 8:47 p.m. reporting a strange man on his property. 

The police chief said Cukor's wife then made an emergency call at 9:01 p.m. to report that a suspect was attacking her husband. 

At the community forum, Meehan denied allegations that police responded too slowly to the initial call, saying they had no way of knowing the intruder, 23-year-old Daniel Jordan Dewitt, would wind up attacking Cukor with a flower pot. 

Dewitt, 23, was arrested and has been charged with murder. But last month Alameda County Superior Court Judge Sandra Bean, citing reports by two doctors, ruled that he is mentally incompetent to stand trial. 

Dewitt is scheduled to return to court this afternoon for a hearing to determine at which state mental hospital he should be placed. 

His attorney and his parents said after his previous court appearance that Dewitt likely will be placed at the Napa State Hospital. 

According to a probable cause statement filed in court by Berkeley police Detective David Marble, after Cukor told Dewitt to leave his property, Dewitt "said he was a psychic and he was told to go through the front gate to find Zoey." 

Cukor walked across the street to a Berkeley fire station to see if firefighters could help him deal with Dewitt but no one was there because firefighters were out on a call. 

Marble said Dewitt then killed Cukor with a flower pot when Cukor returned to his home. 

Dewitt was arrested nearby and "admitted that he was looking for his fiancee Zoey," Marble wrote. 

But Dewitt's father, Al Dewitt Jr., said Dewitt doesn't have a girlfriend named "Zoey" and that Zoey is only a figment of his imagination. 

Dewitt, who graduated from Alameda High School in 2007, is the grandson of former Alameda City Councilman Al Dewitt.