An armed man alleged to have menaced a store employee during a shoplifting incident in downtown Berkeley last weekend before being shot by police has been charged with several felonies, according to court records.
The Berkeley Police Department publicly identified the suspect Thursday as 51-year-old Vincent Bryant. He is listed as homeless. A booking photo was not released to Berkeleyside because Bryant was not booked into jail. He remains in the hospital, BPD said Thursday.
On Saturday, officers were called just before 8:30 p.m. to the downtown Berkeley Walgreens at 2190 Shattuck Ave. (at Allston Way) after a man brandishing a long chain threatened a store worker then took food items from the shop, according to emergency radio traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside. BPD said officers shot Bryant with a gun and less-lethal munitions when he failed to comply with their orders and after attempts at verbal de-escalation failed. The incident was the first time a Berkeley police officer shot and wounded a suspect since 2012.
Police said in court papers that Bryant pulled out a 13-foot-long metal chain when officers confronted him, then “whipped it on the ground,” telling police: “My weapon of choice is a fucking gun, but God wants me to use this on your ass.” He then “raised the chain in the air to signify his intent to use the chain as a weapon,” police wrote.
According to Alameda County Superior Court records, Bryant has been charged with robbery, assault on a peace officer and resisting arrest, which are all felonies. He was also charged with parole violation, which is a felony. The charges, which were filed Wednesday by the Alameda County district attorney’s office, include special allegations that two of the felonies should be considered serious or violent and that Bryant used a deadly weapon — a metal chain — during the robbery.
The incident started, according to court papers, when Bryant walked into Walgreens, selected several food items, then placed $14 worth of items at the register. Police said Bryant left $1 on the counter then walked toward the store exit.
“An employee confronted Bryant and told him he needed to pay for the items. Bryant pulled out a long metal chain from his bag and threatened to break all the windows,” police wrote. “Out of fear, the employee exited the store and called for police. Bryant exited the store and was contacted by police.”
The court papers identify Berkeley Police Sgt. Van Hyunh as the officer Bryant is alleged to have assaulted.
Hyunh is not the officer who shot Bryant, said Officer Byron White, BPD spokesman. As of Thursday, police have not released that officer’s name.
The shooting is being investigated by BPD’s Homicide and Internal Affairs units, the department said previously. Each of those units does its own investigation. The district attorney’s office was also notified of the shooting, BPD said, and the involved officer was placed on administrative leave.
The records obtained by Berkeleyside on Thursday do not reference the officer-involved shooting.
According to court papers, Bryant has felony convictions for home burglary, in 2019 and 1997, and grand theft auto in 2018. He is alleged to have one strike.
Bryant’s first court date is not currently listed in the court records available online.
Berkeleyside will continue to follow the story and is seeking all police records related to the shooting.
Note: Berkeleyside updated this story just after publication when additional records became available.