Police Sgt. Longmire sues Oakland again, now in state court
By Josh Richman and Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
The former Oakland homicide detective who led the oft-criticized probe of journalist Chauncey Bailey’s 2007 slaying sued the city of Oakland for discrimination and retaliation this week in Alameda County Superior Court, even as his federal discrimination lawsuit against the city continues.
John Scott, attorney for Sgt. Derwin Longmire — who was reprimanded for his handling of the Bailey investigation — said the state case filed Wednesday differs from the federal case in two ways.
First, a judge ruled that federal law doesn’t let Longmire, 47, of Walnut Creek, claim he was discriminated against because police officials perceived him as an adherent to the Black Muslim religion, which he wasn’t. But Scott said a “perceived as” claim is allowed under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. The men convicted of killing Bailey are Black Muslims.
Second, Longmire is claiming in federal court that the city and police officials violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for complaining about due-process violations and discrimination that occurred during their probe of his conduct. But such a federal claim against a government employer requires both that the complaint he made be “of public concern” and that the retaliation “had a chilling effect,” Scott said.
Again, the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act offers a lower threshold, requiring only that a complaint was made and led to retaliation with an “adverse employment act,” Scott said.
The federal lawsuit also includes a racial discrimination claim as well as a claim that individual police managers leaked information of an internal investigation into Longmire’s conduct to the press in violation of state law and Longmire’s Fourth Amendment privacy rights. The city and Longmire are in mediation on that case now, but if that’s not successful, a trial date has been set for February.
“We’re covering the bases,” Scott said Thursday, noting Longmire can’t receive damages in both courts for the same violations. “He’s not entitled to a double recovery.”
Longmire is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
The Oakland City Attorney’s office won’t comment before its attorneys have time to review the new complaint, a spokesperson said. No court dates have been set in the suit filed Wednesday.
Scott said he and Longmire have more information than when they filed the federal case.
For example, he said, depositions have revealed that Acting Chief Howard Jordan failed to notify Longmire that Capt. Anthony Toribio, who conducted Longmire’s July 2009 disciplinary hearing, had concluded the misconduct charges weren’t factually supported. Instead, Scott claims, Jordan tried to get Longmire to agree to return to work without suing the city.
Also, Jordan both testified during the internal affairs investigation — withholding exculpatory information he had from the District Attorney’s office and other sources, the new complaint claims — and also made the command decision to proceed with trying to fire Longmire, which Scott said is a conflict of interests.
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 leader 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, and ultimately said in April 2009 that he killed Bailey at Bey IV’s order. Bey IV and Antoine Mackey, a bakery associate, were convicted last month of Bailey’s murder and others, and face life in prison without possibility of parole.
Longmire came under fire for having too close of a relationship to Bey IV as he investigated Bailey’s death, including telephone conversations with the jailed Bey IV that were omitted from Longmire’s case notes. He claimed he kept “ancillary notes” of the phone calls, but apparently made no notation of text messages he exchanged with a member of the Bey family.
Both the state Department of Justice and Wendell “Pete” France, a retired Baltimore police commander, investigated and concluded Longmire compromised the Bailey murder case. Longmire was suspended and put on paid administrative leave in April 2009.
But Longmire complained that the probes were 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 with a proposed 20-day suspension. He ultimately served a five-day suspension and now is a sergeant in the patrol division, to which he was transferred in what the department called a routine rotation.
Staff writer Matt Krupnick contributed to this report. Contact Josh Richman at email@example.com and Thomas Peele at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow them at Twitter.com/josh_richman and Twitter.com/thomas_peele.