Bakery leader embracing guns in bakery’s criminal acts long before editor’s killing
By Thomas Peele, Bob Butler and Mary Fricker, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Yusuf Bey IV was heavily involved in guns and gun violence well before the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey last year — a killing he is suspected of ordering — despite his claims to police that he didn’t allow weapons at Your Black Muslim Bakery and disavowed their use.
Recorded jailhouse telephone calls and three statements given to police before and after Bailey’s Aug. 2, 2007, killing implicate Bey IV in a 2006 shooting of a car belonging to the former boyfriend of a woman with whom he was involved and a June 2007 shootout at a San Francisco nightclub. He was not charged in either incident.
The statements, though, given by two former bakery workers and the person whose car was shot dozens of times, portray Bey IV as an out-of-control gang leader obsessed with violence and power, yet one who ordered followers to commit crimes rather than dirty his own hands.
Oakland police Assistant Chief Howard Jordan declined a request for an interview. Bey IV’s lawyer, Anne Beles, did not return messages.
The Chauncey Bailey Project is not identifying the workers for their safety.
One worker told police, in a recording, that men at the organization had to prove their “loyalty to him. But it’s like, he’s the boss, you do what he say.”
In a recorded jail telephone call, the same worker called Bey IV’s followers “little errand boys. That’s how all of them are, that’s how come all of them are in jail.
If you’re so big and bad, you’d go do that (expletive) yourself.”
“He’s a punk. He’s a little wimp. He wouldn’t do that (expletive) on his own at all,” a man with whom the worker was speaking replied.
Another bakery worker said of Bey IV to detectives: “He’s living in this box, and he couldn’t see out of it. It’s like he didn’t know the real world compared to Your Black Muslim Bakery.”
Authorities now say Bey IV ordered Bailey killed because the journalist was working on a story about the bakery’s bankruptcy filing and internal strife. The only person charged in the shotgun slaying, bakery dishwasher Devaughndre Broussard, confessed to the killing, then recanted and pleaded not guilty. He is to stand trial next year.
Bey IV has said he had no involvement in the journalist’s killing. He and three followers are jailed without bail in an unrelated kidnapping and torture case for which he faces a life sentence if convicted. Another follower pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for testimony.
The handling of the case, led by homicide detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire, is being investigated by the Oakland police internal affairs and the state attorney general. Longmire will transfer to the patrol division in February — a reassignment police described as routine, not related to his work on the Bailey case.
Longmire’s lawyer, Michael Rains, said his client did nothing wrong.
“He was not protecting Yusuf Bey IV, nor has he protected any member of the bakery. He was urging the police department to involve itself in an aggressive investigation of the bakery,” Rains said.
The Chauncey Bailey Project reported in October that Longmire failed to document in his case notes evidence linking Bey IV to a conspiracy to kill the journalist, including data from a tracking device that showed Bey IV was outside Bailey’s apartment seven hours before the killing.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is investigating Bailey’s killing independently of Oakland police.
The Bailey Project reported in October that one of the workers also told police that the night before the Bailey killing that Bey IV, Broussard, and another man, Antoine Mackey, prayed for strength. Bey IV also complained that he had to awaken at 5 a.m. the next day, Aug. 2, the worker said.
A man who worked at the bakery has also told police that Bey IV came to him about dawn and borrowed his white van, which had no license plates. Witnesses told police they saw a masked gunman kill Bailey and run to a waiting white van without license plates.
After the killing, the worker told police that Bey IV boasted, “that will teach them to (expletive) with me,” according to a police recording.
Longmire also failed to challenge Bey IV in recorded interviews. Experts, including a retired judge, who listened to recordings, said he was deferential to the then 21-year-old bakery leader, who he had befriended. “He sounded like a defense attorney leading a witness,” said one Oakland officer who listened to the recordings and spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals.
In the recordings, Bey denies firearm use, although witness accounts contradict him.
According to Bey: “We never had to resort to gun violence, since I’ve been on the bakery. It’s always, you know, face-to-face, it’s just unarmed.”
But in early December, Bey IV ordered followers to shoot up a car belonging to a man, Cameren Cook, who had argued with one of his half brothers, Yusuf Bey V, a bakery worker told police.
“They were ordered to do it,” the worker said of the shooters to police. Among them, the worker said, was Broussard. “It’s basically what (Bey IV) says goes.”
The worker told police that Bey IV had to be talked out of having Cook killed, choosing to destroy the car instead.
In June 2007, Bey IV arrived at a San Francisco nightclub toting a loaded AK-47 assault rifle, another bakery worker told police. Several of his followers were working as security guards there when gunfire erupted.
One person was wounded and San Francisco police made five arrests on gun charges. Bey IV hid the rifle in the back of a Corvette belonging to another of his half-brothers, Yusuf Bey III, and slipped away, the worker told Oakland police.
San Francisco police found the gun in the Corvette the day after the nightclub shooting. An officer said ballistics tests were performed, but it remained unclear if the weapon was linked to any other incidents.
Bombs going off
A few minutes before 2 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2006, a barrage of gunfire erupted at Aileen and Gaskill streets in North Oakland. Cameren Cook, who had worked at the bakery as a teenager, found his Mitsubishi riddled by more than 30 shotgun and rifle rounds.
“It sounded like bombs going off,” Cook told police months later in a recorded statement. He immediately suspected members of the bakery because of a dispute he had with Yusuf Bey V, the leader’s half brother.
Cook, who could not be reached for comment, told police that Bey IV was enamored with guns and that he had seen the bakery leader wearing a holstered large caliber pistol on his hip.
No arrests have been made in the incident.
A bakery worker familiar with the shooting told police in August 2007 that Bey IV ordered the shooting, leading about half a dozen armed men to Cook’s residence but then left before the gunfire. The worker told police that Bey IV had to be talked out of having Cook killed.
The worker told police that Bey IV told the gunmen —‰’wait until I’m around the corner, wait ’til I drive off and get around the corner’ and then. So it’s not like he was there, he was but he wasn’t.”
“They were ordered to do it,” the worker said of the shooters.
After the shooting, the gunmen followed Bey IV’s orders to split up and take divergent routes back to the bakery. The leader gathered “up all the guns that they used and he came back in and went to bed like it was nothing,” said the worker.
The weapons included AK-47 assault rifles and a black sawed-off shotgun used eight months later to kill Bailey.
Seven months after the car shooting, in June 2007, several of Bey IV’s followers were apparently working as security guards at the Fanatics nightclub on Caesar Chavez Street in San Francisco.
The crowd turned unruly, according to police reports. Bey IV arrived at the scene in a red Corvette owned by another of his half brothers, Yusuf Bey III. He soon sped back across the Bay to Oakland, where he grabbed an AK-47 assault rifle and returned to San Francisco, another bakery worker familiar with his actions told police in a recorded statement.
Back at the nightclub, more than 300 people were milling about. Bey IV took the assault rifle from the car’s trunk and began to approach the crowd when gunfire broke out, the bakery worker said.
Bey IV threw the weapon back into the car as police moved in, the worker told police. A man running away was shot in the foot. Police arrested six people on gun charges.
Bey IV abandoned his half-brothers Corvette and slipped away. The next day, police responded to the car’s alarm going off and found the fully-loaded AK-47 and confiscated the vehicle.
San Francisco police Lt. Mikail Ali said Oakland police contacted his department about the statement obtained concerning the nightclub shootout. San Francisco officers then told Oakland police a gun had been found that may have been used in the Cook car shooting.
Neither department brought charges. Ali said it is uncertain if anyone investigated whether the gun from the Corvette was used in shooting seven months before.
“That’s not clear. You’d have to do ballistics tests,” he said. Another officer said the tests were done by the state Department of Justice and likely sent to Oakland. Oakland police refused to comment on the case.