Police wrong about gun in Bailey killing
Gun implicated in editor’s slaying is not tied to a 2005 attack on official from Your Black Muslim Bakery.
By Harry Harris and Cecily Burt, Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Admitting they made an embarrassing mistake, police said Friday a shotgun used to kill Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey Jr. last month by a member of Your Black Muslim Bakery was not used in a 2005 assassination attempt on a former high-ranking member of the bakery organization. Police said in a statement they regretted the release of the incorrect information and said it resulted from a “misunderstanding” between homicide investigators and the department’s crime lab.“This is a blunder so big somebody should lose their job,” said a disgusted John Bey, the former bakery official who was targeted by at least three gunmen in the June 17, 2005, attack.
“This is either total incompetence or there’s a criminal element in the police department,” Bey said Friday. “Something just ain’t right.”
Deputy Chief Jeff Israel, who commands the bureau of investigation, said, “We’re clearly embarrassed. It would have been a simple thing to confirm this information, and we didn’t do it.
“In the future before releasing information to the media (in such high-profile cases), we will make sure it is validated and make certain it is accurate.”
Israel said the release of the erroneous information resulted “from a misunderstanding, and a misunderstanding does not amount to misconduct. People make mistakes, and clearly a mistake was made.”
Israel said acknowledging the mistake so quickly and publicly “says a lot about (the department’s) character. We didn’t try to hide it. We put it out as soon as we knew it.”
Police still are standing by their assertion members of the bakery were responsible for the attack on Bey and will continue to investigate. Bey, 44, was wounded with a shotgun and other weapons outside his Montclair home as he was leaving for work. He survived the attack by running through yards away from the gunmen.
The shotgun in question was one of two recovered by police during a massive raid Aug. 3 — the day after Bailey’s slaying — on the bakery in the 5800 block of San Pablo Avenue and residences associated with bakery members. Police were searching for guns and evidence in two July slayings, the kidnapping of two women in May, a car shooting in December and the attack on Bey.
Police said the shotgun used to kill Bailey was thrown from the window of a duplex on 59th Street by Devaughndre Broussard, a bakery handyman, who later that night confessed to homicide Sgts. Lou Cruz and Derwin Longmire to killing Bailey.
Police earlier this week told the Oakland Tribune and other media that the shotgun also had been used in the attack on Bey, as well as in December 2006 to shoot out the windows of a car belonging to the ex-boyfriend of the girlfriend of Yusuf Bey IV, the now-jailed leader of the bakery empire.
Police said Friday the gun used in Bailey’s killing and the December shooting are the same.
Homicide Lt. Ersie Joyner III said investigators thought shells fired by the shotgun had been matched in both the Bey and December cases before Bailey’s slaying, when in fact there had not been a comparison made in the Bey case.
Joyner said three expended shotgun shells were found at the site of Bailey’s killing and investigators asked them to be compared by criminalists. He said when they were told there was a match, “we thought he was talking about all the cases.”
Cruz, the investigator who had said the shotgun was used in the three attacks, said Friday he was “led to believe there was a match,” although he did not hear that directly from the criminalist who does such comparisons.
Cruz said he never got a chance to talk to the criminalist personally because he was too busy preparing the search warrants.
“It did not come directly from the (criminalists’) mouth” but from another officer, he said. “It was an error.”
After the criminalist saw media accounts about the supposed matches Thursday, he contacted investigators and told them he never had compared the shells in Bey’s case with the car shooting.
On Friday, he tested the shells from all three crimes with both shotguns recovered during the raid and determined none matched the Bey attack.
Bey said he had to chuckle to keep from crying when told of the shocking turnabout Friday. He said he and his wife had been getting lots of phone calls from old friends, who were looking forward to the possible resolution of unsolved crimes, including the attempt on his life and the murder of bakery president Waajid Aljawaad Bey in 2004.
“I could do better if they would turn the investigation over to me,” John Bey said. “No wonder Oakland is in the trouble it’s in.”
Joyner and Cruz emphasized the mistake in no way impacts the case against Broussard, who they never considered a suspect in either the Bey or car shooting cases.