Metro Weekly

Federal judge throws out bulk of lawsuit over trans woman’s death

But police could still be found guilty of violating Kayla Moore's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Kayla Moore - Photo: Facebook.
Kayla Moore – Photo: Facebook.

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.

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