Community members will gather on Wednesday night to celebrate the life of Kayla Moore, a transgender Berkeley resident who died in police custody on Feb. 12.
Organized by Kayla’s family, the celebration will be held at the Gaia Building apartment complex at 5 p.m. on what would have been her 42nd birthday.
Moore, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, died in police custody on the night of Feb. 12 after officers were called to her apartment to respond to a call about a disturbance.
Following the event, Berkeley Copwatch has organized a march to the Berkeley Police Station to call on the department to release information about their investigation into Moore’s death.
“Our first objective is to honor Kayla Moore and the grief that her family has endured as a result of her murder,” said Copwatch member Andrea Prichett. “Then we’re going to the police station, asking them to release the hold that they have placed on the coroner’s report … we’re asking BPD to correct that situation and let the public and the family have access to the report.”
There is currently a “press hold” placed on the release of the autopsy report by the BPD as the investigation is still ongoing. The coroner’s office is also still currently conducting their own investigation at this time, said Deputy Damon Wilson from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Bureau.
Maria Moore, Kayla’s sister, says the department mishandled the incident and that the officers lacked the necessary training to handle suspects with mental illnesses.
“(The incident) was handled horribly,” Maria said. “One of the neighbors said that (Kayla) was quiet and didn’t know why the police was called. The situation only escalated when the police came.”
According to Maria, the department has not been forthright with information about the investigation to the family, saying they had to reach out to BPD in order for someone to respond.
“We had to call them several times just to get a phone call back,” Maria said. “We may have to get a lawyer involved because they’re not producing any information.”
Maria also criticized the rate at which the investigation is being handled, saying that it has been two months without any word from the department. In an email, Officer Jennifer Coats, spokesperson for BPD, said that the investigation is going at its current rate because officers want it to be as thorough as possible.
The investigation involves detailed interviews with witnesses as well as a collection and analysis of all evidence, according to Coats.
“We understand the community’s concern over this incident and their desire to have as much information as possible,” Coats stated in the email. “This can take some time and we are committed to conducting a thorough investigation into this matter.”