Police beat, pepper spray, arrest man in UC Berkeley residence hall

Brenna Alexander/Staff
A stain from pepper spray can be seen on the wall of a room in Clark Kerr building 7.

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Residents of Clark Kerr Campus Building 7 were awoken early on March 9 to the sounds of screams coming from the floor’s bathroom.

Police say the screams came from a man who was reported to be homeless and lodging in the bathroom who inflicted injuries on two officers, forcing them to use pepper spray and batons. But residents said the man was a welcome visitor, and some who saw the altercation say UCPD’s treatment of the man seemed unfair.

According to UCPD Lt. Eric Tejada, officers arrived at the building to investigate reports of a homeless man lodging in the first floor bathroom. When officers made attempts to contact and identify Albert Haedinger in the bathroom, he “reacted violently” and “very quickly it escalated into a full-blown altercation,” Tejada said.

The conflict then spilled over into a dorm room, where one officer pepper sprayed Haedinger and another used his baton on him, according to Tejada.

But according to UC Berkeley freshman John Valencia — whose dorm room was the site of the altercation — the police use of force was unwarranted.

Valencia said Haedinger was sick the night of the altercation and had been making frequent trips to the bathroom when another student noticed him there.

“I saw this guy walk in, (and) he looked like he was in his 40s, had uncombed hair, baggy clothes and had a bottle of Listerine,” said UC Berkeley freshman Derek Tuggle. “I assumed he was a homeless man, so I told my RA, she called the police.”

Valencia said Haedinger ran away from the bathroom and into Valencia’s dorm room to show the police that he was staying there.

Haedinger said although he cooperated with officers, they restrained him, beat him and pepper sprayed him in the face. During the altercation he injured his legs and was taken to a hospital where he received stitches, he said.

Officers arrested Haedinger at 3:47 a.m. on suspicion of battery on a peace officer, obstructing officers in the line of duty and resisting arrest, according to the UCPD crime logs from that day.

Tejada said the use of force was justified.

“We always review a use of force and whether it was appropriate or not,” Tejada said. “A review was done, and it was deemed appropriate.”

Building administrators held a meeting so residents could discuss the event and have their questions answered, according to Marty Takimoto, director of marketing communications for Residential and Student Services Programs.

Valencia’s roommate Travis Dunlop, who watched the altercation between police and Haedinger unfold on the floor of his dorm room, also expressed concern about the police’s use of force.

“I was, at first, scared, but as the situation progressed and officers kept beating him, I felt Albert was being dehumanized,” Dunlop said.

Haedinger’s bail was set at $75,000, and his next court date is set for March 19, according to court documents.