A 54-year-old Berkeley woman is healing from multiple injuries after a Berkeley police officer struck her in a West Berkeley crosswalk on Sacramento Street on July 14.
The crash happened at about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, according to the California Highway Patrol, which is in charge of the investigation. Oakland CHP spokesperson Officer David Arias said the police officer was stopped at a red light on Allston Way, facing westbound, and made a left turn onto Sacramento Street when the light turned green.
There, the police officer struck a woman in the crosswalk, according to the CHP. Berkeley police spokesperson Officer Byron White confirmed that Officer Tyler Moore was driving a police vehicle during a non-emergency and hit the pedestrian. Berkeley police asked CHP’s Oakland division to handle the investigation because it involves their own personnel.
The woman who was hit in the crosswalk is currently recovering at her home. She requested anonymity due to family-related concerns, but said she works at Berkeley Unified School District and has lived in the city for over 20 years.
She lives in the area of University Avenue and Sacramento Street and was headed to the Allston Way post office when she was struck. She said she was waiting at the Allston Way crosswalk at Sacramento Street facing eastbound, and noticed the police officer on the other side of the thoroughfare. The intersection has green lights instead of pedestrian crossing lights, and she said she began to walk when the light turned green.
She had barely made it a few steps into the crosswalk when Moore made a left turn onto Sacramento Street and hit her in the left hip, she said, sending her phone spinning out of her hand, and her body “flying” onto the street. She ended up face down near the Sacramento Street median and said she felt her face burning on the concrete.
The CHP’s initial report says Moore was traveling at about 10 mph, though the victim contested the number and said the force of the impact made it seem much faster.
Independent journalist and Berkeley resident Peter Kay (who uses a pseudonym) happened to drive past the scene with his wife, Angelina Gabrielli, who is an EMT. She noticed the woman on the ground and the two pulled over to respond.
The woman who was hit by Moore said Gabrielli was the first person to tend to her after the crash. Immediately following the hit, she said Moore exited the police car, exclaimed that he hadn’t seen her in the crosswalk, and told her to remain where she was and not move while paramedics responded to the scene.
In the meantime, Gabrielli took the woman’s pulse and remained at the scene until the emergency responders arrived. Gabrielli told Berkeleyside that additional police officers at the scene were initially welcoming to her presence, but began asking her to leave when she informed Kay that an officer had struck the woman. She said her training requires that she provide aid until paramedics arrive.
Kay later posted a thread about the crash to social media that garnered thousands of reactions. He connected with the woman who was hit by the officer through the thread, and is currently working on filing complaints against the police officers for not administering aid.
The woman who was hit said she was very frustrated by the “rude” way police officers asked Gabrielli to leave the scene when she was the only person comforting her. She said she was immensely grateful for her presence at the scene.
“Not only did they fail to render aid, but they also tried to dissuade an off-duty EMT from rendering aid as well,” Gabrielli told Berkeleyside Monday.
White, police spokesperson, said officers immediately called paramedics, but have different approaches to providing aid at the scene based on the nature of the injuries. They will provide aid, for example, if a victim is bleeding, he said, and will never refuse aid when it’s needed.
In the CHP’s initial report, which Arias said is based on the accounts of Berkeley police, the woman “was transported to a local hospital as a precautionary measure following a complaint of pain. No visible injuries.”
“We very much hope that the person who was injured will have a quick recovery and apologize for the traumatic experience this collision caused,” White said in a statement.
The woman said she was taken to Kaiser hospital in Oakland and spent the night there being treated for a fractured knee before being released the following morning. The right side of her face, which was resting on the road after the crash, is heavily bruised, she has strong pains in her tailbone, hip and throughout her body. She said she couldn’t feel her left side after the crash.
“My first thought (when I was lying there) was, I just lost the left side of my body — how am I going to raise my son?” she said Monday, her left leg propped up on a chair and her crutches sitting against a kitchen table. Her son currently attends Berkeley High and has been caring for her since the crash because she can’t get up without assistance.
She has insurance through the school district and is awaiting another doctor’s appointment Tuesday to determine if she needs surgery. She was able to make a few rounds in the living room with her crutches this week, but she was due to return to in-person education in mid-August and isn’t sure if she will be fully recovered by then.
Berkeley police are insured by the city of Berkeley, and any claims would be handled by city administration instead of police, White said.
Arias said drugs or alcohol are not suspected in the crash, and that Moore was sober.
Terry Taplin, council member for the neighborhood where the crash happened, added that the area is notorious for poor pedestrian safety. Berkeleyside’s 2020 crash map also shows multiple collisions involving pedestrians and vehicles on Sacramento Street.
“Sacramento Street has long been a nightmare for pedestrians and cyclists. As a Vision Zero city, Berkeley must commit to upgrading our pedestrian crossings and bicycle facilities, and to fully funding our pedestrian and bike plans,” he said.
Correction: The victim in the crash is 54, not 57.