Court Case

In 2014, Kayla Moore’s father filed a civil suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

The original suit was a complaint for damages against the City of Berkeley and police officers Gwendolyn Brown, Kenneth Tu, Brandon Smith, Brian Mathis, Timothy Gardner, Nikos Kastmiler, Amber Philips and Benjamin Cardoza, individually and in their official capacities as police officers for the City of Berkeley.

In 2016, the City of Berkeley’s lawyer filed a motion for summary judgment, with the intent of sweeping Kayla’s story under the rug by trying to get the judge, Charles Breyer, to throw out the family’s claims before hearing them in trial.

In fall 2016, the judge ruled largely in the city’s favor, throwing out the portions of the case which focused on BPD’s use of excessive force and their unlawful of arrest of Kayla under a false warrant.

However, a major, potentially precedent-setting claim still remains. The family’s lawsuit now centers on holding the cops and the city accountable for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to accommodate – let alone respect – Kayla’s mental health disability. Instead of complying with BPD’s own ADA policy and modifying their behavior, the cops that night criminalized and killed Kayla because of her disability. And we know that Kayla was further criminalized for being a black trans woman –  although the judge refuses to include this in the court case.

The Moore family’s court case could set a major precedent for other cities and police departments by re-affirming whether, and how, cities and police must comply with the American’s with Disabilities Act when responding to mental health crises.

To the Justice 4 Kayla Moore Coalition, it’s common sense that militarized police response is not the way that cities should offer “support” to people experiencing mental health crises. The Moore family’s court case is a call to action for Berkeley and all cities: it’s time to build alternative crisis responses, in line with the ADA, that truly support and honor Black people, people of color, trans people, queer people and people with disabilities.


If you are interested in showing up for court support, please sign up for our email list for announcements and visit our Facebook events page for updated court times. And don’t forget to sign up for text alerts about date/time changes: Text JUSTICE4KAYLA to 33222!

Read the family’s original complaint. (CONTENT NOTE: This document contains misgendering of Kayla, please be mindful when reading, and remember that this reflect the court’s transphobia, not Kayla’s identity)