The Berkeley Police Department will launch an investigation regarding a man’s death after being released from police custody.
According to BPD spokesperson Byron White, a man in his 70s was drinking in a restaurant’s parklet Jan. 8 on the 1400 block of Shattuck Avenue before being detained by police. White claimed the officers considered options other than incarceration, and the man was brought to the city jail sobering cell where he would be released a few hours later without any charges.
The man was released from custody after about two hours due to a chronic preexisting medical condition that made him unable to remain in the jail cell, White added.
On Jan. 9, around 5:23 a.m., Berkeley Fire Department was called to examine the condition of the man after he was found lying near a curb on Addison Street by officers, White stated. He was transported to Alta Bates Medical Center where he reportedly died of high blood alcohol levels.
“The Berkeley Police Department has initiated a review of this incident to ensure that we have appropriate policies in place and that relevant Department policies were followed,” White said in an email.
While the reported cause of death was high blood alcohol levels, the coroner’s office is currently planning on conducting an autopsy to further determine the cause of the man’s death, White said in the email.
On Jan. 12, the Berkeley Police Accountability Board also stated its plans to launch its own independent investigation to examine the issue, after members of the public urged the board to investigate the man’s death, as first reported by Berkeleyside.
“As part of this process, the Department is also looking at what other community resources may be helpful in similar situations,” White said in the email.