Commentary: Bey IV indictments in line with evidence
By Tammerlin Drummond, The Chauncey Bailey Project
Looking at all of the evidence that has come to light in the Chauncey Bailey murder investigation since the journalist’s killing 20 months ago, it’s hard to see how any reasonable person could conclude that Devaughndre Broussard planned and executed the killing by himself.
Yet, the former employee of the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery was, up until Wednesday, the only suspect who had been charged.
This was true despite all of the evidence that long has suggested former bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV ordered Bailey killed to prevent the journalist from publishing a story about the bakery’s financial troubles.
On Wednesday, an Alameda County grand jury indicted Bey IV and suspected co-conspirator Antoine Mackey on murder charges in the Bailey case and the killings of two other men, Odell Roberson and Michael Wills.
Now, we may finally get to the bottom of who killed Bailey and why.
No thanks, by the way, to Oakland police officials who bungled the Bailey murder investigation from the get-go and assigned Sgt. Derwin Longmire, a close friend of Bey IV’s, to head it.
But because of the aggressive investigations by journalists on The Chauncey Bailey Project, as well as the Alameda County district attorney, the indictments were made.
“We just followed the evidence that was there all along,” said Bob Butler, a reporter on the project.
Investigative reporter Thomas Peele said that the indictments are finally a recognition of what the project reporters had documented.
“There was a conspiracy to kill a journalist to stop him from publishing a story,” Peele said. “This has always been a First Amendment issue.”
In exchange for a 25-year sentence and reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter — which means if he survives prison, he will one day again see the light of day — Broussard agreed to turn state’s evidence against Bey IV and Mackey.
Broussard testified before the grand jury that he was the one who shot Bailey and that Mackey had been present. Broussard said that in exchange for killing Bailey, Bey IV promised to get the men bogus credit reports so they could get thousands of dollars in loans that they would never have to repay.
Parts of Broussard’s testimony sound like a cross between “Scarface” and a bad episode of “The Sopranos.”
It actually would be funny were former bakery members not so notorious for terrorizing and killing people.
Bey IV, Broussard testified, kept a list of people he “wanted to get rid of,” and Bailey was on it.
“We understood what (he meant by) ‘gotta take him out,'”‰” Broussard told prosecutors in preparation for his testimony. “We watch hella mafia movies.”
Broussard’s testimony, along with other evidence presented by the Alameda County district attorney, apparently persuaded the jurors.
Bey IV, who also on Wednesday was ordered to stand trial on unrelated kidnapping and torture charges, maintains his innocence.
The defense says Broussard is just trying to save his own skin by changing his story. He at first confessed to the crime, then later recanted.
Now, he’s telling a different story.
There’s always that possibility when someone is taking a plea.
Yet there is certainly enough compelling evidence — and always has been — for the Bailey case to get a full airing in a court of law.
“It’s gratifying that a jury of citizens will have a chance to look at the evidence and decide what is true,” said Chauncey Bailey Project reporter Mary Fricker.
Police officials initially suggested that they weren’t pressing full ahead on pursuing charges against Bey IV because he was already in jail on unrelated kidnapping and torture charges, the implication being that he already was going away for a long time.
The fact is, a judge dropped those charges and prosecutors had to quickly recharge Bey IV and four other defendants. What if the kidnapping and torture case later falls apart? Bey IV winds up back on the street?
That terrifying possibility is just one reason it’s so important that authorities finally have begun to aggressively pursue the many leads that appear to link Bey IV to Bailey’s killing, resulting in Wednesday’s indictments.
Tammerlin Drummond is a columnist for the Bay Area News Group-East Bay. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.