Two men have been charged with felonies for allegedly attacking police officers in Berkeley during separate protests on Wednesday, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said today. The protests were in response to grand jury decisions in New York and Missouri not to charge police officers in the deaths of two unarmed men. Justin Lee Moe, 22, of Laramie, Wyo., was charged with assault on a peace officer and resisting an officer for allegedly trying to hit Berkeley police Officer Matthew Valle with a van at 54th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way at about 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Valle said in a probable cause statement that he was conducting a traffic break at that intersection to keep all eastbound traffic on 54th Street from entering Martin Luther King Jr. Way so other Berkeley officers could set up a crowd control skirmish line. Valle said a green Chevy van with Washington state license plates approached the traffic break with two occupants sitting on the roof, which he said is unlawful riding on a vehicle under the California vehicle code. Valle wrote that he shined his flashlight toward the driver, who police identified as Moe, to try to get the vehicle to slow down and then signaled for the van to stop when “all of a sudden I heard the vehicle quickly accelerate toward my position.” The officer said, “I had to physically jump out of the way to avoid being hit by the vehicle, however the vehicle still swerved in my direction but came to an abrupt stop as both of my hands became placed on top of the vehicle hood.” Valle said he contacted Moe and several other passengers and a records check disclosed that Moe had nine warrants outside of Alameda County for various traffic violations.
Moe was arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland this afternoon and as of earlier today he was being held at the Berkeley City Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said it also charged Christopher Edwards, a 27-year-old Petaluma man, with attempted-second degree robbery, two counts of battery on an officer and other felonies for allegedly attacking an officer during a protest at the University of California at Berkeley campus on Wednesday night. The other charges against Edwards are resisting an officer and threatening an officer.
UC Berkeley police Officer Roderick Roe wrote in a probable cause statement that he was on a bicycle to monitor a protest by about 80 to 100 people in front of the on-campus home of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks at about 7:40 p.m. on Wednesday. Roe said he placed his bicycle between himself and the crowd when Edwards “spat upon my face and tried to pull my patrol bicycle from my grasp.” He said, “I believe Edwards used the hostility of the crowd, which was directed from the chancellor’s residence toward me, as an instrument of fear.”
Roe said, “Since I was in fear for my personal safety, and he had already physically assaulted me with no repercussion, I believe Edwards thought he could wrestle my bicycle from me and flee under cover of the hostile crowd.” The officer said once the protest had progressed to another part of the campus he directed other officers to Edwards’ location and he was then arrested. Edwards, who also was arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland this afternoon, was being held in lieu of $70,000 bail at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin as of earlier today.
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