Part of Longmire’s amended civil rights lawsuit can proceed
By Josh Richman, The Chauncey Bailey Project
Much of an amended civil rights lawsuit filed by the former Oakland homicide detective who led the oft-criticized probe of journalist Chauncey Bailey’s 2007 slaying can go forward, a federal judge has ordered.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in June had dismissed most of the original lawsuit filed by Sgt. Derwin Longmire, allowing only a racial discrimination claim to remain but giving Longmire the right to amend and refile his case.
Longmire, 46, did so, and White issued an order Tuesday refusing to dismiss much of it.
The city of Oakland, Assistant Chief Howard Jordan and Internal Affairs Division Lt. Sean Whent had sought the dismissal.
For example, White didn’t dismiss Longmire’s new First Amendment claim that he was retaliated against for speaking out in his own defense.
The judge said the amended complaint now claims Longmire’s protests over alleged due-process violations and discrimination “may have had a tendency to disrupt the department and therefore become a matter of public concern.”
White also didn’t dismiss Longmire’s amended claim that the individual defendants leaked information of an internal investigation into his conduct to the press in violation of state law and Longmire’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights. The court can’t yet decide the legitimacy of Longmire’s claimed privacy interest and weigh it against the public need for disclosure, he wrote, so the claim can proceed.
Bailey, the Oakland Post’s editor, was shot to death Aug. 2, 2007.
Police raided Your Black Muslim Bakery the next day on warrants from a separate case and found the shotgun used to kill Bailey; Longmire hours later let former bakery CEO Yusuf Bey IV and bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard, both in custody, have a seven-minute, unrecorded conversation.
Broussard then confessed to killing Bailey, later recanted, but ultimately said in April 2009 that he killed Bailey at Bey IV’s order. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office since has charged Bey IV and Antoine Mackey, a bakery associate, with Bailey’s slaying and two other killings.
Longmire, a Walnut Creek resident, came under fire for having too close of a relationship to Bey IV as he investigated Bailey’s death: He had interceded in Bey IV’s criminal cases before, and the two had numerous telephone conversations while Bey IV was in jail, including calls omitted from Longmire’s case notes.
“Several police officers suspected that Plaintiff compromised the investigation of the Bailey murder because of his association with the Bakery,” White wrote Tuesday. “Plaintiff alleges that the chief and others in command positions had a history of initiating and manipulating IA investigations for personal, political and discriminatory reasons and focused their investigation of Plaintiff on the basis of his religion and/or association with the Bakery.”
Internal investigators found Longmire had compromised the Bailey case, so he was suspended and put on paid administrative leave in April 2009.
Longmire complained that the probe had been faulty, and the city responded with an offer that he return to work in exchange for agreeing not to sue. Longmire refused, and later was ordered to return to work and was served with a proposed 20-day suspension for alleged misconduct related to a second internal probe of his work in other homicide cases.
Longmire received no discipline for his conduct in the Bailey case and now works as a sergeant in the patrol division, where he was transferred in what the department called a routine move.
White did toss some parts of Longmire’s amended lawsuit Tuesday. White in June had let Longmire’s race-discrimination claim proceed, but ruled Tuesday that he can’t proceed with a claim — under either a federal statute or the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause — of discrimination based on his “perceived association with the Black Muslim religion.”
At least in that regard, “we’re happy with the judge’s order,” Oakland City Attorney John Russo said in an e-mail Thursday. “It continues to whittle down this absurd case, and we’re confident that the City will ultimately prevail.”
Contact Josh Richman at firstname.lastname@example.org.