By Doug Oakley
A Berkeley City Council member has set up a public meeting for the city's police chief to answer questions about the police response to the Feb. 18 beating death of a Berkeley hills man.
Chief Michael Meehan, the city manager and a police dispatch supervisor are expected to provide information and answers at the meeting, called by City Councilwoman Susan Wengraf.
The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. March 8 at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. City Councilman Laurie Capitelli is co-hosting the meeting.
"The circumstances surrounding the incident have raised many concerns about safety and police protection," Wengraf wrote in an email to her constituents. "I think that a public meeting where you all have an opportunity to voice your concerns and get answers to your questions directly from the police chief would be in the best interests of our community."
On Feb. 18, police say 23-year-old Daniel Dewitt, whose parents said he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, killed 67-year-old Peter Cukor with a ceramic flower pot outside Cukor's home on Park Gate Road. Cukor first made a call to police on a nonemergency line, saying there was a trespasser at his home. Police said they did not immediately respond because patrol units were being reconfigured to monitor a protest.
When Cukor's wife called 911 a few minutes later, police said they responded and arrested Dewitt, who was covered in blood, a short distance from the house.
Dewitt is scheduled to return to court March 22 for a review of a mental competency report.
Dewitt, who graduated from Alameda High School in 2007, is the grandson of former Alameda City Councilman Al Dewitt.
After Cukor told Dewitt to leave his property, Dewitt said he was a psychic and he was told to go through the front gate to find “Zoey," police said. Cukor then walked across the street to a Berkeley fire station to see if firefighters could help him, but no one was there because firefighters were out on a call.
Cukor returned to his home where Dewitt beat him with a flower pot, police said. Dewitt's father, Al Dewitt Jr., said after Dewitt was arraigned last week that Zoey is "a made-up girlfriend." Al Dewitt Jr. and his wife, Candy Dewitt, have said that they had been trying to get their son into a permanent treatment facility, but court officials denied their requests.
Daniel Dewitt has been charged in two other incidents. He was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of making annoying phone calls in 2010 to a woman who was a former classmate, court records show. He also has a pending misdemeanor battery case for allegedly punching and kicking a nurse at the John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro in 2010.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408.