After a car chase with the Berkeley police in the early hours of Oct. 23,  the attempted murder suspect crashed this 2003 Ford Explorer into a tree on the Alameda, north of Hopkins Street. The vehicle’s right side was sheared open by the impact with the tree. Photo: Berkeley Police
After a car chase with Berkeley Police on Oct. 23, a man crashed this Ford Explorer into a tree on the Alameda. Photo: BPD

A Texas man charged with trying to kill another man by beating him with a pipe-like object in downtown Berkeley, then hitting a police cruiser and crashing into a tree while fleeing authorities, has been scheduled for a mental health review by the court in December.

Duane Nailor, 54, was scheduled to appear in Superior Court in downtown Oakland on Wednesday and was set to enter a plea.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office was unable to say last week whether Nailor actually entered a plea during that hearing, citing the unavailability of information in the court’s computer system, and an inability to reach the deputy district attorney who is handling the case.

According to the Alameda County sheriff’s department, Nailor remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 19 for a hearing to determine whether he is mentally fit to face charges. 

Nailor is being held without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.

According to a brief description filed by police in connection with Nailor’s arrest Oct. 23, Nailor and another man had initially been involved in a verbal dispute, which took a violent turn.

“Nailor retrieved a large pipe-like object from his vehicle, which he then used to strike [the victim] with multiple times in the head and body, knocking [the victim] to the ground. Once on the ground, Nailor continued to kick and strike [the victim] in the head and body with the pipe, causing life-threatening injuries,” police wrote.

According to the document, Nailor also used the pipe to strike a passing vehicle, smashing out its window.

At approximately 12:45 a.m., police received numerous calls reporting the beating, which took place at the northeast corner of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, according to a police statement.

As officers responded to the scene, Nailor fled, wrote police. Officers pursued him as he drove “with willful and wanton disregard for public safety.” As he fled, he sped “through poorly lit residential neighborhoods” and was at times driving in oncoming traffic lanes.

During the chase, according to authorities, Nailor caused minor injuries to a Berkeley Police officer by running into the officer’s marked patrol vehicle at Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Duane Nailor (via Facebook)
Duane Nailor (via Facebook)

The pursuit continued until Nailor crashed into a tree in the 1100 block of the Alameda, at Hopkins Street, shearing open the passenger side of the SUV he had been driving on impact, according to police.

Nailor fled on foot but was taken into custody “yards away” from the crash, authorities said.

“According to arresting and custodial officers, Nailor exhibited behavior and physiological symptomology consistent with being under the influence of drugs,” police wrote in the document related to Nailor’s arrest.

Multiple witnesses identified Nailor as the man responsible for the beating, and police arrested him.

The victim, a 41-year-old Oakland man, suffered major injuries, and was reported to be in critical condition in a local hospital as of last week.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office has charged Nailor with nine felonies: premeditated attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in connection to the beating; assault on a peace officer; assault with a deadly weapon in connection with four other men Nailor allegedly hit with a pipe; evading a police officer with willful disregard for safety; and evading an officer against traffic.

Nailor also faces a misdemeanor charge related to a state vehicle code violation.

An acquaintance who said she knows Nailor from San Antonio, Texas, said the SUV he was driving the night of the beating had been taken by Nailor, over the summer, from their Texas community, where the vehicle had been considered “community property.” She asked not to be named, out of concern for her safety, but described numerous negative interactions with Nailor over the years.

“He’s been in and out of jail his entire life,” she said. “It seems he learned very early on in life that he can say he’s crazy and get out of just about anything.”

Nailor is scheduled to appear in court Dec. 19 at 9 a.m. in Department 112 of the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse for a mental competency hearing.

Attempted murder suspect set for arraignment (10.25.13)
Man arrested after attempted murder, car crash in Berkeley (10.23.13)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...