DA launching criminal investigation into Berkeley balcony collapse

A worker measures near the remaining wood from an apartment building balcony that collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., Wednesday, June 17, 2015. The balcony broke loose from the building during a 21st birthday party early Tuesday, killing several people and seriously injuring others. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

OAKLAND — Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said today that her office will be conducting a criminal investigation into the balcony collapse in downtown Berkeley last week that killed six people and injured seven others.

The fourth-floor balcony at the Library Gardens apartment complex, a five-story, 146-unit building at 2020 Kittredge St. that was completed in 2007, collapsed at 12:41 a.m. on June 16 during a party in Unit 405.

The balcony was left hanging straight down along the building face. Of the six people killed, five were Irish nationals.

Speaking at a packed news conference in her office, O’Malley said the incident “has devastated families throughout the Bay Area and Ireland.”

She said, “To the families who lost loved ones and to the community, each of you deserve to have this thoroughly and exhaustively investigated. We will do so and that is what I pledge.”

The city of Berkeley completed an initial investigation on Tuesday but O’Malley said the city’s probe was limited in scope and her office will conduct a wider investigation that will include forensic and laboratory analysis.

O’Malley said one of the things her office will be looking into is whether the people who built, owned or managed the apartment complex were criminally negligent.

She said that if her office concludes that there was negligence, one possible charge would be involuntary manslaughter.

However, O’Malley cautioned that the investigation is just beginning and she has no idea if it will result in criminal charges being filed.

“We will find out if there are facts that support criminal charges and if they can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law,” O’Malley said.

She said her office has many investigators who are knowledgeable about building issues but she also will bring in “the best experts” from state government and other outside agencies.

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