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Bay Area News Briefs

By Mike Aldax

February 20, 2008

Taser wasn't an option in Anita Gay case, Berkeley police say

Tasers, though not expressly banned in Berkeley, were not a "viable option" in a Saturday night encounter between police and a knife-wielding woman who was shot dead by an officer, a Berkeley police spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Police reported that 51-year-old Anita Gay was shot at least twice by a 5-year-veteran of the police force at an apartment complex at 1725 Ward
St. at about 8 p.m. Saturday, after the officer responded to a report of a domestic disturbance. She died at the scene.

"We would caution against suggesting that a Taser may have been a viable option in Saturday night's officer involved shooting," said Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss in a prepared statement Tuesday afternoon.

"The incident unfolded very quickly," she said.

Kusmiss said there has been "no ban per se" on Tasers by the Berkeley City Council, as the council has done with police canines, helicopters and the use by officers of the carotid restraint neck-hold technique, she said.

According to Kusmiss, a preliminary investigation by police and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office found that the officer encountered Gay on the porch in front of the apartment door, armed with a large kitchen knife.

"The officer challenged her at gunpoint and verbally," Kusmiss said.

Then, when two family members, reportedly Gay's daughters, came out of the door and Gay turned toward them, the officer fired, according to Kusmiss.

The officer, who has since been placed on standard administrative leave, "felt there was an imminent threat to the lives of the family members," thus falling within the Police Department's deadly force policy, Kusmiss contended.

The account is based on both the officer's account and statements made by a witness, the victim and family members that night, according to Kusmiss. Investigators continue to probe the incident and are waiting for autopsy results, she added.

"No officer wants to be in the position to be forced to use deadly force," said Kusmiss. "This is very emotionally challenging for all involved."

Judge threatens to throw Reiser out of the courtroom

The defense of Hans Reiser against charges that he murdered his wife Nina got off to a rocky start Tuesday with the judge in the case threatening to throw Reiser out of the courtroom and admonishing his lawyer for asking improper questions.

When Reiser, a 44-year-old computer engineer, whispered to his attorney, William DuBois, as he has throughout his lengthy trial, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman said to DuBois, "Tell your client to be quiet before I have him removed" from the courtroom.

A short while later, when DuBois repeatedly asked an attorney who represented Reiser in divorce proceedings with his estranged wife if she had been "dishonest" during depositions, Goodman said DuBois' questions were "improper" because they were hearsay and were based on facts not in evidence in Reiser's murder trial.

The judge's rebuke came during DuBois' third round of questioning divorce lawyer Gregory Silva, who represented Reiser from late December 2005 until the time that Nina Reiser, who was 31 at the time, disappeared on Sept. 3, 2006.

Goodman said DuBois didn't have a sufficient basis for a third round of questioning of Silva, who also was cross-examined twice by prosecutor Paul Hora as the two lawyers traded rounds of questions.

"You have to do better than that to call him (Silva) back" to the witness stand, Goodman told DuBois.

The judge then told Silva, "Step down, you're excused" and ordered DuBois to call his next witness.

Nina Reiser was last seen alive on Sept. 3, 2006, when she dropped off the couple's two children at Hans Reiser's home at 6979 Exeter Drive in the Oakland hills.

Her body has never been found, despite extensive searches in the Oakland hills and elsewhere, but Hans Reiser was charged with murdering her because prosecutors believe that DNA and blood evidence proves that he killed her.

Teenage inmate may not have escaped in a car

A 17-year-old inmate who escaped Thursday may not have left the area in a car, a San Mateo County Sheriff's office spokesman said Tuesday at a mid-afternoon news conference.

Surveillance cameras at the detention facility at 222 Paul Scannell Drive show a mid-size black sedan, possibly a Chevrolet Impala, with chrome wheels pulled up to the chain link fence around 7 p.m., which is when Josue Raul Orozco escaped, Lt. Marc Alcantara said.

Authorities are "not positive that the car was part of the escape," but can't discount that it might have been involved, he added.

Investigators also received reports from residents near the Youth Services Center who reported seeing someone of Orozco's description running through the neighborhood Thursday evening, Alcantara said. Authorities are investigating all of these leads.

Orozco, a native of Mexico, is believed to be headed toward the border of the U.S. and Mexico. Local, state and federal authorities have been notified of the escape, and are coordinating their efforts with the San Mateo County Sheriff's office.

Contra Costa County man questioned in shooting death

Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies are questioning a man regarding the shooting death of a 31-year-old man in front of a Bay Point home late Tuesday afternoon, although it's unclear whether the man is a suspect or witness.

"It's too early to say at this point (in the investigation)," said Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee.

Lee said only that the man being interviewed "was at the scene" when sheriff's deputies found the gunshot victim in front of the home at 74 Pensacola St. Neighbors alerted deputies to the shooting at about 5:35 p.m.

Emergency rescue crews rushed the victim to John Muir Medical Center, Concord Campus, where he died, Lee said. The victim has not yet been identified.

No other information was immediately available other than that the investigation is ongoing.

Migden says pesticide spray should be suspended

Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, on Monday said March plans to aerially spray a pesticide over Marin County to eradicate crop-eating moths should be suspended until the potential health risks are investigated.

The overhead spraying of a synthetic pheromone is part of a statewide campaign to wipe out the light brown apple moth, which feeds on more than 250 agricultural crops and 2,000 types of plants and trees. About
90 months have been spotted in Marin, and spraying there is scheduled for March 4.

Migden cited reports alleging recent spraying in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties made more than 600 people sick. The list of symptoms included asthma-attacks, chest pains, headaches, blurred vision, swollen glands, skin rashes and chronic fatigue.

Since those sprayings, the state generated a new formula for eliminating the moths. But some charge the formula has not been fully tested.

"We have to protect the apple trees, but we don't want poison apples," Migden said in a statement. "Before we see planes flying over Marin
County and the rest of the Bay Area dropping pesticides, we want to make sure these substances aren't harmful to the people below."

The light brown apple moth is native to Australia and was detected in the Bay Area about a year ago.




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