Tuesday Morning News Roundup
Protesters Continue To Block City Streets, Cleared From Freeway
Protesters snarled traffic in Berkeley on Monday night on city streets, the freeway, public transit and train tracks.
They have blocked both directions of the Eastshore Highway near University Avenue twice Monday night within an hour.
About a hundred protesters were seen entering eastbound lanes of the Eastshore Highway near University Avenue and some jumped over the center divide to westbound lanes around 8 p.m. CHP officers were able to quickly take the protesters off the freeway.
At about 8:45 p.m., protesters were seen walking on eastbound and westbound lanes of the freeway near University Avenue bringing cars to a halt.
Around 10:15 p.m., protesters were being cleared from both directions of the freeway but traffic was still backed up, CHP officials said.
Berkeley firefighters have responded to a report of a woman in labor while stuck on the freeway shortly before 10 p.m., a fire dispatcher said.
She has since been removed from the freeway and transported a hospital, according to a dispatcher.
The large group gathered in the city’s downtown area against decisions made by grand juries to not indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men Missouri and New York.
The march started around 5 p.m. at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue near the University of California at Berkeley campus.
The group then walked to Shattuck Avenue and reached the city’s Police Department headquarters at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way around 6:30 p.m. They then continued marching west to University Avenue, according to police.
Police said the demonstrators have been peaceful, though some threw objects while at police headquarters.
The Downtown Berkeley BART station at 2160 Shattuck Ave. was closed shortly before 6:30 p.m. due to the protests and trains were not stopping at the station, a BART dispatcher said.
The station reopened at about 8:25 p.m., the dispatcher said.
A line of police officers in riot gear attempted to block protesters from reaching Interstate Highway 580 in Berkeley Monday evening.
The protesters were chanting as officers were assembled on Sixth Street at University Avenue at about 7:30 p.m. to prevent hundreds of protesters from entering the freeway.
Traffic is heavy in the downtown area including University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, according to police.
Around 8:30 p.m., protesters were seen blocking an Amtrak train near Addison and Second streets and remained there at about 10:15 p.m., police said.
Protesters have also made their way to Emeryville near the Powell Street Plaza shopping center.
Four Stabbed In Mission District Fight Early Sunday Morning
Two suspects who stabbed four people during a fight in San Francisco’s Mission District early Sunday morning remain at large, police said Monday.
The stabbing was reported at about 12:40 a.m. on 16th Street between Mission and Valencia streets, according to police.
Based on the preliminary police investigation, it appears two male suspects got into a fight with four male victims.
The two suspects stabbed all four suspects before fleeing the scene, police said.
One victim suffered a stab wound to the chest and the other three victims were stabbed in the back, according to police.
Police said one of the victims who was stabbed in the back, was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The motive for the fight remains under investigation.
Police are also investigating two homicides that occurred early Sunday morning within a few blocks of the fight.
A fatal shooting occurred at 20th and Mission streets at about 2 a.m. and a fatal stabbing occurred at 18th and Valencia streets at about 2:30 a.m., police said.
Anyone with information about these recent acts of violence are encouraged to contact police at (415) 552-4558 or may text a tip anonymously to 847411 with “SFPD” followed by the message.
City Council To Consider Hotel Tax Collection Deal With Online Homesharing Service
The San Jose City Council today will consider signing off on an agreement with the online homesharing company Airbnb Inc. to collect hotel taxes on short-term rentals in the city, a spokesman said Monday.
The proposed pact, recommended by the city manager’s office, would assign Airbnb as the collector of the city’s 10 percent Transient Occupancy Tax on nightly rates charged by people sharing their homes with lodgers, city spokesman David Vossbrink said.
The practice of homesharing is currently unregulated and the city’s proposed ordinance would put it on equal footing with hotels in town that rent rooms and charge rates subject to the hotel tax, Vossbrink said.
“The agreement with Airbnb essentially treats them like a hotel,” Vossbrink said.
“Something that looks and acts like a hotel room would be treated the same,” he said.
The city has been communicating with San Francisco-based online homesharing service Airbnb since last summer about entering into the proposed tax collection agreement, according to Deputy City Manager Kim Walesh.
The recommended resolution on today’s City Council agenda would permit homesharing “hosts” to make deals with people on Airbnb’s website for short-term rentals of up to 30 days and be subject to the hotel tax, collected by Airbnb and the proceeds handed over to the city, Walesh stated in a memo to the council.
Airbnb estimates that there are about 300 such hosts in San Jose using the website and who would typically rent out their homes for 56 days a year with an average guest stay of 7.4 nights, according to Walesh.
The rate charged by hosts would average about $88 per night and the city would receive about $150,000 each year in tax revenues, with about 40 percent of it deposited into the city’s General Fund and 60 percent into its Transient Occupancy Tax Fund, she stated.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a similar ordinance and agreement with Airbnb on Oct. 7.
Airbnb, which started in 2008, has booked homesharing accommodations for more than 25 million guests in more than 34,000 cities and 190 counties, according to its website.
Police Seek Suspects In Armed Robberies That Led To Pursuit, Collision
Police are looking for suspects in two armed robberies that led to a pursuit and ended in a collision in Antioch early Sunday morning, police said Monday.
Officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at a Chevron gas station at 3201 Delta Fair Blvd. around 2:45 a.m., Antioch police Cpl. William Dee said.
One of two suspects entered the station and demanded an employee for cash at gunpoint, according to Dee.
Both suspects then fled in a Toyota Tercel, Dee said.
About an hour later, the suspects robbed a 7-Eleven store at 2707 Contra Loma Blvd. where they brandished a handgun and fled with cash, according to Dee.
Video footage from the store’s surveillance system showed at least two other suspects waiting in the Toyota during the robbery, Dee said.
They fled in the car, but an officer found the suspects minutes later, Dee said.
One of the suspects wielded a machine pistol at the officer, who in return fired his duty weapon and struck the Toyota, the corporal said.
A short pursuit ensued that ended in a collision and all the suspects fled the scene on foot, Dee said.
Officers conducted an extensive search of the area but were unable to find the suspects, who remain at large, he said.
The officer who confronted the suspects was not injured, according to Dee.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Antioch police Detective Meads at (925) 779-6884 or send a tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using keyword ANTIOCH.
Former Petaluma Female Firefighter Files Discrimination And Harassment Suit
A former female firefighter has filed a discrimination and harassment suit against the Petaluma Fire Department.
The complaint by Andrea Waters filed Nov. 6 in Sonoma County Superior Court alleges she experienced a hostile environment, retaliation harassment and discrimination based on her gender after she was hired as a firefighter/paramedic in June 2008.
Waters left the Petaluma Fire Department earlier this year, defense attorney Deborah Kochan said.
The complaint alleges Waters was treated as a second-class citizen, was denied training available to male firefighters and was held to standards male firefighters were not.
The suit claims Waters’ performance was hyper-scrutinized and criticisms about her work were fabricated.
The suit also alleges Waters was denied the opportunity to trade work shifts because she was not provided a private shower facility and changing and sleeping area private from male firefighters.
Waters alleges she was subject to retaliation when she complained she was being singled out and subjected to unequal treatment. She is seeking damages for humiliation, mental anguish, emotional and physical distress and lost wages and benefits.
Petaluma City Attorney Eric Danly did not return a call for comment on the suit Monday afternoon.
Protesters Condemn Police Tactics While City Officials Call For Calm
A protest organizer blamed Berkeley police and city officials for “mayhem” during demonstrations Saturday and Sunday nights as activist geared up for another round of protests Monday evening.
By Any Means Necessary organizer Ben Lynch said Berkeley police “were out of control” during demonstrations over the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of Eric Garner in New York from an officer’s chokehold.
Lynch was outside of Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on Monday afternoon, where arraignments were scheduled for some of the 11 protesters arrested over the weekend.
Activists have called for another protest at 5 p.m. at the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph avenues, near the University of California at Berkeley campus. In preparation for the protest, Berkeley City College closed at 3:30 p.m. and UC Berkeley recommended that faculty and staff go home by 4:30 p.m.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said in a statement Monday afternoon that the department is looking into accusations of unnecessary force by police.
Reports of violence and vandalism surfaced early into the demonstration Saturday evening. Within about 90 minutes, police had used tear gas and the windows of the Trader Joe’s store on University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way had been smashed.
Over the next several hours, there were numerous reports of vandalized business, injuries to police officers and police use of tear gas, smoke grenades and batons. Police said sandbags, pipes, bricks, sideview mirrors, and smoke grenades were thrown at police officers.
One officer suffered a dislocated shoulder when he was hit by a sandbag, police said.
Lynch said Monday that police attacked peaceful protesters, provoking many in the crowd to lash out angrily.
Lila LaHood, president of the Society for Professional Journalists Northern California chapter, said in a letter to Berkeley city officials that three credentialed journalists were struck by batons as they covered the protests that night, including one who was hit in the head.
The Berkeley police response Sunday was more subdued, but vandalism of storefronts continued on two of Berkeley’s main thoroughfares — Shattuck and Telegraph avenues. Some protesters tried to prevent others from breaking windows and looting businesses and one was hospitalized after being hit in the head with a hammer, police said.
Police said two officers suffered minor injuries Sunday.
Berkeley police said they arrested six protesters Saturday and five protesters Sunday, including suspects in the vandalism at Trader Joe’s and for assaulting a police officer.
With protests that were set to continue Monday evening, UC Berkeley officials have implored the student community to help maintain peace in the city.
Man In Online Video Suspected Of Assaulting Two Officers At Levi’s Stadium
A man whose arrest Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was depicted in a video posted online was intoxicated, refused to cooperate and assaulted a police officer before the video was taken, police said Monday.
Mark Lydon, 44, of Eugene, Oregon, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest during halftime at the Pac-12 Championship football game at the stadium, Santa Clara police Lt. Kurt Clarke said.
Sometime before Lydon was arrested at about 8 p.m. Friday, officers responded to a report of a person intoxicated and belligerent in the stands who repeatedly disobeyed requests to calm down and refused to cooperate with stadium staff, Clarke said.
The suspect resisted officers, was told he was being ejected from the stadium and then allegedly assaulted an officer, according to police.
He then forced himself up a walkway onto the stadium’s concourse area where the person who took the video, which was circulated online, began to record Lydon’s arrest, Clarke said.
Lydon then refused to stop and as officers attempted to place him under arrest, he continued to be uncooperative and resistant and another peace officer was assaulted, according to Clarke.
He was finally taken away, suffering from minor injuries, and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail, where he was released pending his arraignment on Jan. 20, police said.
On the video, initially posted on social media, a person is heard stating that the suspect “did not do anything” and deriding police about the arrest.
The championship college football game, pitting the University of Oregon against the University of Arizona, ended with Oregon winning 51-13.
Fatal Accidental Shooting Reported At Lake Berryessa
The Napa County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a fatal accidental shooting at Lake Berryessa on Monday afternoon, a sheriff’s captain said.
A family member called the sheriff’s office at 3:28 p.m. to report the shooting at a residence in the 200 block of Manzanita Lane near Rimrock Drive, Capt. Doug Pike said.
Deputies were still at the scene late Monday afternoon, Pike said.
SJSU Building Reopens After Search Prompted By Report Of Gunman
San Jose State University police have reopened a building where there was a report of a possible gunman Monday afternoon, university officials said.
Campus police received a report shortly after 3 p.m. of a gunman in the Boccardo Business Complex, a classroom building for business students near South 10th Street, SJSU spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris said.
Police evacuated everyone from the building, as well as the adjacent Business Tower, and did a floor-by-floor search for a suspect, Lopes Harris said.
SJSU officials said on the school’s official Twitter page shortly after 4:40 p.m. that the building had been cleared and reopened by campus police.
The rest of the school’s campus remained open during the search, Lopes Harris said.
Public Defender Says Wrong Person Arrested In Homicide Of 14-Year-Old
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi released video evidence to the public Monday that he said may prove the innocence of a 14-year-old boy who was arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing another teen in the city’s Mission District in September.
Adachi said his decision to release the video surveillance footage Monday was done out of desperation and with the hope that the homicide charges will be dropped against his client, a boy who has been in juvenile hall since his arrest the day after the Sept. 2 death of 14-year-old Rashawn Williams.
The name of the juvenile suspect currently in custody, as well as the identity and age of another suspect who is not in custody, have not been released, according to Adachi.
San Francisco police said Rashawn was stabbed at about 6:50 p.m. on Sept. 2 at Rubin’s Market at the intersection of 25th and Folsom streets.
Police said the homicide does not appear to be random but the department has not released any details about a possible motive.
Rashawn attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory school as a freshman. According to school officials, Rashawn was at the convenience store with a family member when he was stabbed.
Rashawn’s mother transported him to California Pacific Medical Center’s St. Luke’s Campus and paramedics transported him from there to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Adachi said the video surveillance footage exonerates his client, the boy who has been in juvenile hall for more than three months, and shows that another male at the scene stabbed Rashawn.
Adachi said both the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office have had access to the surveillance footage and plenty of time to investigate, but nonetheless failed to drop the homicide charges against the juvenile.
According to Adachi, prosecutors asked the judge who is handling the case not to allow for the release of the footage to the public, but the judge agreed to its release Monday, stipulating only that names not be released and that faces in the video be blurred.
Deputy Public Defender Gregory Feldman said both his client and another male were hanging out near the BART station at 24th and Mission streets prior to the stabbing and were clearly captured on video surveillance cameras at the BART station and at a nearby McDonald’s.
Feldman explained that his client was wearing light-colored khakis, a short-sleeved black shirt with a white logo and a black beanie at the time of the stabbing, whereas the person who is allegedly captured on video stabbing Rashawn was wearing dark pants, a dark sweatshirt and a gray beanie.
Woman Gets 15 Years To Life For Road Rage Fatal Crash
A Santa Rosa woman was sentenced Monday morning to 15 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder of a Windsor man who died in a road rage crash west of Santa Rosa in 2012.
Heather Howell, 31, was convicted in September 2013 of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and reckless driving, but the jury deadlocked on a murder charge.
The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office retried Howell for murder and a jury convicted her this September for the second-degree murder of 56-year-old Jessie Garcia.
Howell was chasing her boyfriend Tony Kraus’ motorcycle in her Acura on July 14, 2012, when she sideswiped a Lexus, lost control of her car and struck the back of Garcia’s 1969 Triumph convertible on Hall Road.
Prosecutors argued Howell was intoxicated and had marijuana and cocaine in her system as she chased her boyfriend after they had an argument that day.
Howell’s attorney Kristine Burk told the jury Howell’s negligent and criminal driving amounted to involuntary manslaughter, not murder. She said her client was hysterical at the crash scene, stuck her hand into the burning Triumph to try to free Garcia and asked a firefighter for help.
In a letter to the court read by a family friend Monday morning, Garcia’s widow Diana Garcia said Howell’s behavior was “selfish and irresponsible” and that Howell cared only about herself and her pleasure regardless of the consequences.
Garcia said her husband will never walk their daughter down the aisle at her wedding, never share another anniversary or grow old with her.
Howell offered condolences to the Garcia family. She said no excuse, admission or apology could right the wrong she had done, but she denied rage and anger caused her behavior that day.
Howell said her behavior was “careless, inexcusable and out of character” and asked Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Robert LaForge to give her a chance to make a difference in the community by sharing her story and warning others that it could happen to anybody.
Masterson told LaForge the 15 years to life term recommended by the probation department was appropriate and that Howell did act out of anger and compulsion.
LaForge, however, said he observed Howell’s behavior during both trials and said he found her tears were not genuine but intended to curry sympathy with the jury.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
The Bay Area can expect cloudy skies today with highs in the lower 60s and light winds that will be out of the west at 5 mph by the afternoon.
Mostly cloudy skies are expected this evening, with lows in the mid-50s and west winds about 5 mph that become southerly after midnight.
Skies will be mostly cloudy Wednesday morning. There is a slight chance of rain. Highs will be in the lower 60s with south winds from 5 to 15 mph.
The National Weather Service has issued a high wind watch that begins Wednesday evening and goes through Thursday afternoon. A flash flood watch also goes into effect late Wednesday and last through late Thursday.