Berkeley police handcuff unconscious man outside of Whole Foods Market

Daniel Kim/File

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Berkeley Police Department officers responded Sept. 20 at 10:25 p.m. to a security report from Whole Foods Market on Telegraph Avenue of an unconscious man at the entrance of the store.

This incident was first tweeted by Jathan Gurr from Berkeley Copwatch, a local watchdog group. The tweet alleged that this incident was a “type of potentially abusive behaviour by the BPD.”

“There was an unconscious man who was unaware of his surroundings, aggressively talking to himself and possibly in mental crisis,” said BPD spokesperson Officer Byron White in an email.

According to Gurr, he recorded footage of the incident on his phone after arriving at the scene about 10:45 p.m. and saw BPD and EMTs surrounding an unconscious man of color on his back. Gurr said he heard an EMT say the man needed to be handcuffed.

Gurr said in the email that a police officer handcuffed the man, and he then asked an officer why the man was being handcuffed. According to Gurr, the officer alleged that the man “was being violent.”

White said in an email that officers called the fire department for medical aid after finding the man on the ground unconscious. When fire department personnel arrived at the scene, they requested that the officers “briefly restrain the man in handcuffs so that they could safely evaluate him,” White said in the email.

White added that after the fire department personnel determined that the man needed emergency medical transport to the hospital, the officers removed the handcuffs and the fire department transported the man to a local hospital.

Gurr said in an email that after talking to an officer, Gurr asked Whole Foods Market employees who were at the scene if the man was acting in a violent manner before becoming unconscious. According to Gurr, employees he spoke with alleged that the man was not acting violently.

“Time and time again we have seen people of colour be handcuffed for no reason during ordinary traffic stops and in this case while someone was actually unconscious,” Gurr said in the email.

Police Review Commission Officer, or PRC, Katherine Lee said in an email that the PRC investigates complaints against individual officers only if the person affected files a complaint.

Contact Thao Nguyen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.