Police Accountability Board opens investigation, reviews issues, elects officers

Photo of a Berkeley police car
Theo Wyss-Flamm/Senior Staff
The Berkeley Police Accountability Board met Wednesday to discuss policy, open an investigation and elect a new chair and vice chair.

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The Berkeley Police Accountability Board opened an investigation into a recent death under the jurisdiction of the Berkeley Police Department, or BPD, elected a new chair and vice chair and discussed a fight at Berkeley High School and policy concerns at its meeting Wednesday.

During the public comment section, speakers addressed concerns over high-speed chases in residential areas and the lack of information from BPD surrounding last week’s tsunami warning. Two other speakers encouraged the board to open an investigation regarding the death of an intoxicated man Jan. 9.

The man was initially detained Jan. 8 for allegedly loitering outside a restaurant’s parklet and put in a sobering cell. The man was released about two hours later. The next day, he was found on a curb at Addison Street and was taken to the hospital for intoxication and potential hypothermia, according to KTVU. The man was pronounced dead at Alta Bates Medical Center due to high blood alcohol levels.

The board decided unanimously to open an investigation on the Jan. 9 death. They also voted to elect Michael Chang as the new chair and Nathan Mizell as the new vice chair of the board.

After public comment, BPD Chief of Police Jennifer Louis presented a report to the board, including information of a recent fight by multiple juveniles at Berkeley High School on Jan. 19.

She noted the officers found a BB gun replica firearm in one of the juvenile’s backpacks and the juvenile was detained as a result.

“We do see incidents where there are juveniles that are harmed with replica firearms,” Louis said during the meeting. “I just would like to acknowledge that BPD, the SRO and other officers involved were able to make that arrest without any harm done to that juvenile.”

Louis added that a press release came out Wednesday confirming a 21-year-old man was arrested as a suspect in the murder of Sereinat’e Henderson. According to the press release, Henderson was shot in a car on October 21, 2020. She was pregnant with her second child at the time of death.

The board continued by reviewing and voting to close policy reports 11 and 12, which alleged the police had mishandled several incidents, due to them being individual cases rather than broader policy issues.

The meeting ended with closing thanks to outgoing chair Ramsey for his leadership for the 2021 term.

Contact Karen Vo at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @karenvo_DC.