Big questions linger in Bailey’s slaying
By Josh Richman and Cecily Burt, Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — As the investigation of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey’s slaying broadens into a multi-agency probe of Your Black Muslim Bakery and the Bey family, a key question remains largely unanswered. What, exactly, was Bailey working on?
Police say alleged shooter Devaughndre Broussard, a 19-year-old bakery handyman who since has recanted his confession, initially told them he had killed Bailey in anger over stories the veteran journalist had written in the past about the bakery, its employees and its leaders.
Oakland Post Publisher Paul Cobb has said Bailey was investigating the bakery’s bankruptcy and other financial doings as well as stories about police corruption. Cobb has denied telling police — as a detective’s notes indicate — that Bailey was probing the bakery’s role in “murders and other felonious activity.
But for the past two months, Cobb has declined to let reporters review Bailey’s notes or a story the journalist had completed a few weeks before Bailey was slain. That story — the first in a planned series — was never published because it was too one-sided, Cobb said, adding he’d asked Bailey to do more reporting.
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Audio link: Chauncey Bailey Project reports and editors interview Oakland police officials
Video: Paul Cobb and the police
Cobb, interviewed last week by New American Media (NAM) journalists, said it was only after several calls to Tucker that homicide detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire came to the Oakland Post’s office the afternoon of the slaying. Joyner said Tuesday it was “very difficult” talking to Cobb on the day of the slaying, and when the publisher did meet with Longmire that afternoon, he did so with his attorney present.“He was not very free in regards to offering up a lot of information or any information with regards to computer files or stories that Mr. Bailey was working on,” Joyner said. “The district attorney’s office feels confident in the case that they have before them and they do not request that we follow up in regards to getting any stories that Mr. Bailey was working on.” At the same time, Jordan said police are still hungry for any evidence to bolster vague rumors of a specific Oakland Police officer somehow involved in corruption with bakery members. He said the only lead they’ve had was a reporter’s question involving an officer’s first name. An internal affairs probe on that went nowhere. “There was no other information that has been provided to us that would allow us to (further probe the allegations),” he said. “However, if that information is still available, we would very much like to receive that and pursue an investigation into whether or not officers of the Oakland Police Department have been involved in any kind of police misconduct or corruption. We do not condone that in this department.” Cobb told NAM that Longmire, interviewing him the day Bailey was slain, had been uninterested when told Bailey had been investigating the police, as well as the bakery.In the NAM interview, Cobb’s attorney Walter Riley recalled the exchange between Longmire and the Post publisher. “(Cobb) said Chauncey was working on a story about the Black Muslim Bakery, and he said Chauncey was working on a story about police officers, particularly some corruption in the police department,” Riley said. “Sgt. Longmire was not interested in any stories other than anything about the Black Muslim Bakery …”Jordan insisted Tuesday Bailey’s files aren’t needed. “We tried to get those earlier, and that’s the end of that. We’re still waiting for information on the police corruption side.”This all unfolds against the backdrop of an ever-broadening probe of the bakery and the Beys.
Tucker said they also believe bakery members are involved in the slaying of Odell Roberson Jr., 31, on July 8, and of Michael J. Wills Jr., 36, on July 12, both gunned down within a few blocks of the bakery headquarters. Ballistics tests have shown the same weapon used in those slayings was used to shoot up a car belonging to the former boyfriend of current bakery CEO Yusuf Bey IV’s girlfriend.
Tucker said a multi-agency task force has been formed to investigate a complex web of cases within and outside Oakland, and any slip of the tongue potentially could harm other cases.
“We’ve also got partners in this, these multi-agency partners including our federal cousins and other law enforcement agencies around the state are interested in this, we’ll hopefully not jeopardize what they’re doing,” Tucker said.
Jordan flat-out said police “will not be making any further comments after today regarding this case or any future investigations surrounding this case.”There were several questions and allegations Jordan, Tucker and Joyner refused to go into Tuesday. They declined to discuss Cobb’s allegations that Longmire had refused to interview a witness at the scene of Bailey’s shooting who claimed to have seen the assailant flee to the apartment on Alice Street. However, Jordan said Tuesday that investigators had followed up on the apartment tip; he would not disclose the results.They wouldn’t directly address Cobb’s concern that hours after the slaying police already seemed sure Bailey had been “stalked and targeted;” Joyner at one point said they’ll not engage in a he-said, they-said dialogue with the publisher.But Jordan said police had received information of a link between the bakery and Bailey’s slaying “early on in the homicide investigation.”“I’m not going to get into specifics on what time, or location, or what date — I’ll just say for the record that it was early in the investigation that information was provided to us, or that we developed, that indicated the bakery was involved in the slaying,” Jordan said.Police reports do indicate officers interviewed several eyewitnesses at the scene who reported they’d seen a masked, black-clad man run up to Bailey, shoot him three times and then climb into the passenger side of a white van nearby — apparently not a random street crime or a case of wrong-place, wrong-time.
Tucker said once the entire bakery/Bey probe is “finally put to rest, we’ll probably be more forthcoming.” All in all, the chief maintained, “we’ve been pretty diligent, pretty scrupulous about trying to maintain the best and most constitutional approach.”
“I think we’ve done a fairly competent job at this — by ‘fairly competent,’ I mean we have continued to be aggressive,” Tucker said. “The case is what it is. Cases don’t come together in the way you’d hope for like ‘CSI’ presents.”
He said people shouldn’t assume an arrest in one case means the investigation into the crime is complete or that people who have been charged in one case won’t be charged in another.
“Simply because we make the arrest doesn’t mean we are done with the investigation — many times it gives us an opportunity to broaden the investigation,” he said.
Cobb told NAM he has received threatening phone calls since Bailey’s slaying and has reported some of those to police. Tucker on Tuesday said police “are in constant contact with Mr. Cobb regarding his safety and his well-being.” He said police were concerned not only about Cobb, but others who are involved in the Bailey case and other cases.
“There’s a lot of people who are feeling anxious and apprehensive about this investigation,” Tucker said. “The more we’re forthcoming with you, the more reluctant they are to be witnesses for us, it’s a disincentive for them to be real forthcoming.”
The chief also questioned the tactics of LaRue Grim, Broussard’s attorney, who provided local media with copies of police reports he’d obtained as part of the legal process.
“Whether it’s irresponsible or not I’m not going to comment, on the other hand it certainly is unorthodox in terms of what attorneys generally do, Tucker said.
The public can e-mail any tips regarding the Bailey case to CBProject@bayareanewsgroup.com.