No Criminal Charges in Berkeley Balcony Collapse

     BERKELEY, Calif. (CN) – Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Tuesday that she will not file criminal charges in the deadly June 2015 balcony collapse in Berkeley that killed six students and seriously injured several others.
     The fourth-floor balcony of an apartment at the Library Gardens complex near the University of California-Berkeley campus buckled and crashed 40 feet to the street during a 21st birthday party hosted by residents.
     Thirteen civil lawsuits were filed last November over the incident, claiming that the balcony was shoddily constructed and had severe dry rot, and that officials at the complex knew about the defects but did not repair them.
     The District Attorney’s office launched a criminal investigation days after the collapse, but investigators determined that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that a defendant acted recklessly enough to face criminal charges.
     “This is not a decision that I came to lightly,” O’Malley said in a statement. “It is the culmination of months of consultation with my team of attorneys. It follows extensive review of reports, both legal and factual, and numerous meetings with investigators and experts.”
     Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates issued a statement on the DA’s decision, saying that it did not surprise him.
     “I knew from the start that it would be difficult to reach the legal threshold for a case of manslaughter due to criminal negligence,” Bates said.
     “Nevertheless I am optimistic that the safeguards we have adopted in Berkeley in the wake of the balcony collapse – including regular inspections and stricter building standards – will help us make sure that such a tragedy doesn’t happen again.”
     The civil lawsuits are still pending in Alameda County Superior Court.

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