New: Berkeley Police Say Transgender Woman's Death Was an Accident

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday May 06, 2013 - 11:01:00 PM

The death of a mentally ill transgender woman who died in a struggle with officers three months ago was an accident, a Berkeley police sergeant has ruled in a lengthy report.

Sgt. Peter Hong also said he believes the physical force used by officers trying to restrain Xavier Moore, 41, who identified as Kayla Moore, at the Gaia Building in the 2100 block of Allston Way shortly before midnight on Feb. 12 was "reasonable."

Members of Berkeley Copwatch and the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley have raised concerns about the way police handled the incident with Moore, alleging that they may have used excessive force.

But the Alameda County coroner's bureau ruled that Moore died from acute combined drug intoxication from toxic levels of methamphetamine and codeine. 

It also said that an enlarged heart and morbid obesity were contributing factors to Moore's death. 

Moore, who weighed 347 pounds, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was a heavy smoker who used crack cocaine and methamphetamine, according to the 350-page report by Berkeley police. 

Moore's roommate, John Hayes, told police in a statement that he called police the night of Feb. 12 because Moore was acting belligerent and he feared that Moore would attack him. 

Berkeley police said that as they were responding to the incident they learned that San Francisco police had issued a warrant for Moore for a battery in their city in June 2010. 

They also said that Moore was combative with officers who came to her apartment. 

Officers put restraints on Moore but removed them after she became unresponsive and stopped breathing, according to the report. 

Officers then removed the restraints, performed CPR and took her to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead, according to the report. 

Moore's stepmother, Elysse Paige-Moore, said in a statement released by Copwatch last month that, "Xavier had a very difficult life but an indomitable spirit. He suffered with mental illness from an early age, struggling throughout his life with paranoid schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress syndrome." 

Paige-Moore said, "He was a poet and a gifted singer and oh could he dance even at 350 pounds!" 

Copwatch spokeswoman Andrea Pritchett was unavailable for comment today. 

Coalition for a Safe Berkeley spokeswoman George Lippmann said he doesn't yet have enough information to comment on the police report. 

Berkeley police spokeswoman Jennifer Coats said it took police a long time to release their report because "with this type of investigation we want to be as detailed as we can be." 

Coats said, "We understand that it took a while and we appreciate everyone's patience. We hope it answers the questions the public had."