click to enlarge A poster of Kayla Moore displayed outside the courthouse.

H. Graph Massara

A poster of Kayla Moore displayed outside the courthouse.

Friday, September 23, 2016

City of Berkeley Seeks Dismissal of Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kayla Moore Case

By H. Graph Massara
Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 6:09 PM

Members of the Bay Area's queer and trans community gathered Friday morning in solidarity with the family of Kayla Moore, the 41-year-old Black transgender woman with paranoid schizophrenia who died while in custody of the Berkeley police in 2013. The coroner said Moore died of cardiac arrest.

In the years since, a coalition led by Moore's sister, Maria Moore, has campaigned for expanded funding of mental health care resources. Arthur Moore, Kayla’s father, has sued the city of Berkeley for wrongful death.

At a hearing in San Francisco Friday morning the city asked a judge to throw out the case. The judge is expected to rule on the motion to dismiss at a later date. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for October 17, but a ruling could be issued sooner. Though it was not the resolution she was hoping for, Maria Moore said that at least the hearing didn’t end with an outright dismissal.

"There’s still a glimmer of hope," she added.

There are still several points of contention about what exactly happened to Kayla Moore the night she died, including whether officers' attempts to restrain Moore may have cut off her airway or aggravated an underlying heart condition. Though the city has alleged Moore illegally resisted arrest, and that drugs in her system played a key role in her death, Arthur Moore’s attorney, Adante Pointer, compared her struggling against the officers to the thrashing of a fish out of water.

"It's not that she isn’t in compliance [with the officers’ orders]," he said during the hearing. "She is dealing with the fact that she can't breathe."

Pointer said he feels confident about the case moving forward, and that it’s one a jury should decide.

Prior to the hearing, supporters of Moore's family held hands outside the Phillip Burton Federal Building. Maria Moore read a poem by Kayla, entitled "In My Outer Skin."

Elena Vera, a self-identified transgender woman of color who attended the hearing, said she didn’t know Moore personally, but felt they were part of the same community.

"The police want you and I to believe (that) a body like Kayla Moore's is not worth protecting or serving," she said. "She was someone worth love. She was someone worth remembering."

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