On what would have been Kayla Moore’s 42nd birthday, family members and the community at large celebrated her life and marched peacefully to the Berkeley police station Wednesday evening.
Approximately 70 individuals attended the event to remember Moore, a 41-year-old transgender Berkeley resident and a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who died in the custody of Berkeley Police Department on Feb. 12 after a disturbance call.
The memorial and protest began in the Gaia Building, where Moore lived, and featured an extensive cast of speakers, including friends, family, a City Council member and other community members.
“She was so brave to be herself,” said Maria Moore, Moore’s sister and a UC Berkeley graduate. “Kayla was such a fun person. She was a bubbly beach blonde inside a large male body. Kayla took care of other people before she would take care of herself.”
Along with honoring Kayla’s memory, many felt that the details of the investigation were taking too long to be released. Wednesday’s protest resulted in the protesters taping a Public Records Act request to the door of the BPD station in which they demanded that BPD release the coroner’s report.
BPD, however, has placed a “press hold” on the release of the autopsy report because the investigation remains open.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” said Officer Jennifer Coats, spokesperson for BPD. “Any investigation involving a death such as this includes thorough and detailed interviews with all witnesses and involved parties, the collection and analysis of all available evidence and preparation of appropriate reports.”
Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who knew Moore for almost 30 years, criticized the investigation for taking too long a time to release details.
“No family in the city of Berkeley should ever have to wait weeks or months to get a coroner’s report of the death of their family member,” Worthington said. “In hundreds of cities across California, you can get this information in days.”
Worthington added that Moore was dealing with so many issues that our society is not prepared to deal with. Family and community members alike voiced their desire to have police better trained to handle people with mental-health disabilities.
The coroner’s office is expected to conclude its investigation shortly, and BPD expects to release something in the “very near future,” according to Lt. David Frankel of BPD, though an exact date was not specified. Frankel added that this information is planned to be made available much sooner than in similar cases due to the high-profile nature of the case.
Another protest is planned for April 30, when the protesters will attempt to voice their concern to the city manager, to whom BPD reports, said Andrea Prichett of the Berkeley Copwatch.