Berkeley Hills murder victim’s family files wrongful death claim against city

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The family of a man who was allegedly murdered by an intruder outside his Berkeley Hills home last February filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday against the city of Berkeley.

On Feb. 18, shortly before 8:45 p.m., Peter Cukor and his wife, Andrea, saw a suspicious trespasser — later identified as Daniel DeWitt — on the premises of their property, the lawsuit states. Cukor called Berkeley Police Department’s nonemergency line and requested a police officer be sent to their home right away, but the lawsuit states that the police dispatcher never intended for nor requested a police officer to respond.

The police dispatcher promised to get someone to their home soon, and the Cukors relied on this representation, said the Cukors’ attorney, R. Lewis Van Blois, in a Thursday press release. Soon thereafter, the intruder attacked Cukor and fatally struck him on the head with a large flowerpot, according to the lawsuit.

The city of Berkeley does not comment on litigation, city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said in an email.

The lawsuit alleges complaints for wrongful death, personal injury and emotional distress damages.

Andrea Cukor watched the fatal attack from her bedroom window and feared for her life, according to the press release. The intruder — who appeared to be mentally disturbed — tried to get into the Cukor home but was apprehended after Andrea Cukor made a second emergency call, the lawsuit states.

BPD officers then arrested Alameda resident DeWitt less than a block away from Cukor’s house.

After the incident, claims were made that BPD officers did not respond to Cukor’s call because the department was preparing for an Occupy Oakland march heading into Berkeley and was only responding to in-progress emergency calls.

See the full text of the lawsuit below:



Chloe Hunt covers crime. Contact her at [email protected].