Public Comment

Update: Death During Police Contact, February 12, 2013

By Officer Jennifer Coats, Public Information Officer, Berkeley Police Department,
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:02:00 PM

We received some additional inquiries regarding the recent death of a person during contact with our officers. Though we are limited in terms of sharing specific details of this ongoing investigation, we wanted to offer some context where we can, as hopefully this may be of some use to you. 

We understand the community’s concern over this incident, and the desire to have as much information about this incident as possible. 

As you may know, any investigation involving a death such as this includes thorough and detailed interviews with all witnesses and involved parties, the collection and analysis of all available evidence, and preparation of appropriate reports. The Alameda County Coroner’s office is conducting their concurrent death investigation as well. 

There are significant constraints in place regarding the immediate release of information in a case such as this, and we can’t comment on specific information or even address inaccuracies which may be expressed in public discussion regarding this incident. 

The Berkeley Police Department has a long history of working with respect and sensitivity to mental health issues in our community and among people with whom we come into contact. Our department has a positive reputation in the community for its interactions with mental health consumers. 

Furthermore, we are increasing our level of service and expertise in this area through our Department’s new Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program. This program is based on a national, best-practices model for police interactions with people with mental health issues. These training efforts, and the expansion of the program, are continuing throughout the year. 

A thorough investigation takes time. We are obliged to wait for the evidence to be examined, the facts to be determined, and the investigation to be completed. 

We are committed to conducting a sensitive and thorough investigation, fair to everyone involved, from the family and friends of the decedent, to the officers and firefighters who tried to save the decedent’s life. 

If anybody has any questions, please contact me.