Suspect arrested in hammer attack during December protests

BERKELEY, Calif. (BCN) -- Berkeley police Thursday said they have arrested an Oakland man in a hammer attack that occurred during a series of protests in December.

The alleged assault occurred on Dec. 7, 2014, when the victim, a 55-year-old man, attempted to stop some protesters from damaging a Radio Shack store at Shattuck Avenue and Dwight Way, according to police.

One of the people on the scene struck the victim with a hammer on the head, causing serious injuries. The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment, police said.

The incident was captured on videos and store surveillance, but the suspect was initially unidentified.

During an interview, however, police obtained a description and street name and put the information out to patrol officers.

On Aug. 30, an officer made contact with Jayne Waller, a 20-year-old Oakland resident and identified him as a possible suspect in the hammer attack.

Investigators interviewed Waller, who was arrested on an unrelated crime at the time, and police say that he confessed to the hammer attack at that time.

He was arrested on Sept. 21 in the 2100 block of Shattuck Avenue on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, felony battery and burglary after police obtained an arrest warrant.

Police estimate damage to the Radio Shack store at $6,000, with a loss of $8,000 in merchandise.

The December protests were part of a series of such events around the country in response to the police shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York from an officer's chokehold.

The Berkeley protests included numerous reports of vandalism and violence, and police were later criticized for their heavy-handed response, which included the use of tear gas, smoke grenades and batons. Police in turn alleged that objects were thrown at officers including sandbags, pipes and bricks.