June 20, 2012
By Doug Oakley
Bay Area News Group
The family of a Berkeley hills man who called police before he was bludgeoned to death by a trespasser Feb. 18 has filed a claim against the city for wrongful death, a formality that allows them to sue in 45 days if the claim is rejected.
Attorney Lewis Van Blois of Oakland filed the claim Wednesday on behalf of 67-year-old Peter Cukor's wife, Andrea Cukor, and their two sons, Christopher and Alexander.
The claim asks for unspecified damages for wrongful death and "severe emotional distress."
At issue, according to the claim, is a phone call Cukor made to police before he was killed in which he asked for help from police and "gave a clear unambiguous account of the intruder's actions and emphatically and firmly requested an officer to come right away."
The claim says the police dispatcher "told Peter Cukor they would get a police officer there soon. However, the police dispatcher did not request any assistance on behalf of the Cukors from the police officers on duty."
An Oakland man, Daniel DeWitt, was arrested a short time after the death. He was deemed mentally unable to stand trial by court appointed doctors and sent to a state psychiatric institution for treatment.
Representatives from the Berkeley police department and the city manager's office were not immediately available for comment.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.