A federal judge has dismissed the bulk of a civil lawsuit against police in Berkeley, Calif., brought by the family of a transgender woman who died while in police custody. Relatives of Kayla Moore, who was schizophrenic, allege that six officers used excessive force and suffocated Moore by holding her down on a futon during a struggle after she had a mental health episode, the East Bay Times reports.
Moore, who was 41 when the incident occurred in 2013, lost consciousness and died in the struggle with police. An autopsy later revealed she died of acute combined drug intoxication from methamphetamine and codeine use, with morbid obesity and an enlarged heart contributing to Moore’s death.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer agreed with lawyers for the city which claims that “minimal and appropriate” force was used on Moore, and dismissed the charges of excessive force and discrimination. However, Breyer left in place part of the lawsuit claiming that police violated Moore’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“The force used — though fatal when combined with an enlarged heart — was reasonable based on what the officers could know at the time,” Breyer wrote in his opinion.
Adante Pointer, the lawyer representing Moore’s family, argued that officers discriminated against Moore by refusing to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and ignored their own training on dealing with mentally ill people by threatening to arrest Moore and escalating the situation.
Pointer also claims that officers threatened to arrest Moore for a warrant issued for an unrelated 60-year-old man named Xavier Moore, which coincidentally was her birth name. As a result, he argued, she panicked and began struggling.
The case will return to court next month as the family pursues the ADA-related charges against the officers involved in the incident.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!