For Immediate Release
January 12, 2017
Judge to Announce Trial Start Date in Case of Berkeley Woman Killed in Police Custody
– Suit Centers on Police Violations of Americans with Disabilities Act –
January 12 – On Friday, January 13, Senior US District Judge Charles Breyer is expected to announce the trial start date in the wrongful death civil suit that has been brought against the City of Berkeley and seven Berkeley police officers by the family of Kayla Moore. Moore, a Black transgender woman, died in the early hours of February 13, 2013 as police violently restrained her in her own home during what was supposed to be a mental health call.
The judge is also expected to consider whether the family is entitled to a jury trial or to a bench trial decided by the judge alone.
Friday’s case management conference comes after the City attorney’s fall 2016 attempts to have the case thrown out before making it to trial. Last September, the City filed a motion for summary judgment that called on the judge to throw out each of the family’s three central claims: that officers used excessive force; that their arrest of Moore was illegal due to its reliance on an unconfirmed warrant for the wrong person; and that the officers failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
In October, Judge Breyer ruled partially in the City’s favor, throwing out most of the family’s claims, but keeping the claim that Berkeley police officers violated the ADA by failing to accommodate Moore’s mental health disability, schizophrenia. The judge will now proceed with hearing the case and considering the ADA claim alone.
Despite disappointment with the judge’s decision to disregard much of the officers’ fatal misconduct, the Moore family and organizers with the Justice 4 Kayla Moore Coalition are pressing on with the remaining claim.
The Coalition believes that the Moore family’s case could set a significant precedent given the widespread police violence against people with both physical and mental health disabilities.
“Kayla died because the police viewed difference and disability as a crime, as something to be attacked. Meanwhile, nationwide, people with mental health disabilities make up over 25% of those killed by police gunfire,” the Coalition wrote in a statement released on Facebook on Tuesday, referring to a 2015 Washington Post investigation.
If Judge Breyer rules in the family’s favor, his decision would affirm police officers’ duty to uphold the ADA, which requires public entities to make their services accessible to people with mental and physical disabilities.
Since Moore’s death in 2013, the Moore family and their supporters have continually spoken against the systemic problem of police violence against people with mental health disabilities in Berkeley and elsewhere.
“It is irresponsible to substitute police officers for trained mental health workers. Berkeley continues to under-staff emergency mental health services while supporting increased funding for the number of officers hired,” Maria Moore, Kayla Moore’s sister, wrote in a Berkeleyside editorial in 2016.
While the Moore family proceeds with their suit against BPD for violation of the ADA, the Coalition is simultaneously demanding change outside of the courtroom, calling on the City to fund community-run mental health care, including a 24/7 civilian-run crisis response, which they say could be paid for by cutting 35% of the police budget to account for the 35% of BPD calls that are mental health-related.
Alongside their demand for new mental health policies, the Coalition has called attention to institutionalized transphobia and racism in the BPD, as reflected in officers’ disregard for Moore’s life.
Friday’s case management conference will take place at 8:30 a.m. at the Phillip Burton Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, Floor 17, Courtroom 6. Supporters of the family will gather outside the Federal Building at 8 a.m. before entering the courtroom.
Who: Justice for Kayla Moore Coalition and family of Kayla Moore
What: Case management conference in wrongful death suit (Moore v. City of Berkeley et al)
Where: Phillip Burton Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, Floor 17, Court 6 (Judge Breyer), San Francisco.
When: Friday, January 13, 2017. Case Management Conference at 8:30 a.m. Gathering before and after conference.
For additional information:
- Website: https://justiceforkaylamoore.wordpress.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Berkeley Copwatch’s “People’s Investigation of the In-Custody Death of Kayla Moore”: https://justiceforkaylamoore.wordpress.com/kaylas-story/
- List of organizational endorsers: https://justiceforkaylamoore.wordpress.com/endorsements/