State report ripped Longmire for Bey investigation
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Police Sgt. Derwin Longmire’s investigation of journalist Chauncey Bailey’s 2007 murder was so inadequate that a high-ranking commander said Longmire never should have been a homicide detective in the first place, according to a 2009 state Department of Justice report that was just released.
The 66-page document, which police and city officials refused to release for more than two years, is now public as part of a federal lawsuit. It paints a sweeping picture of Longmire’s colleagues’ concerns that he “neglected to do … just basic routine homicide 101” investigative steps on the Bailey case that were rote for other detectives.
Even Longmire’s partner criticized the work and said he (the partner) should have been given the case, according to the report.
Document: State Department of Justice report on OPD Sgt. Derwin Longmire
Some details of the investigation previously have been revealed in separate documents and as part of ongoing lawsuits Longmire has filed against the city. However, the state Department of Justice report provides an insiders’ look into the investigation and paints a picture of a department at odds with how to handle the high-profile murder case and the actions of one of its detectives.
Longmire — then lead investigator on the Bailey case — demonstrated a “consistent failure to include documentation in the Bailey homicide file that implicated” former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV in the killing, the report states. Bey IV and a bakery follower, Antoine Mackey, were convicted in June for Bailey’s murder, but the report shows that Longmire repeatedly overlooked Bey IV as a suspect and did not follow up what other officers characterized as obvious leads.
Among the examples listed was that Longmire “inexcusably” failed to properly search for Bey IV’s cellphone after Bailey’s Aug. 2, 2007, death, and that Longmire did not properly review evidence from a tracking device on Bey IV’s car that placed the bakery leader outside Bailey’s apartment the night before the shooting. Longmire also later let Bey IV’s followers use his photograph on a website where they proclaimed their leader’s innocence in other criminal cases, an action questioned by other officers.
Longmire’s errors on the case show that he “probably didn’t belong in homicide” and created “serious questions about the integrity of our investigation,” former Deputy Chief Jeffrey Loman, the captain in charge of investigations at the time of Bailey’s slaying, said in the report.
Among the findings:
-Longmire gave Bey IV “permission, while in custody, to write an article about their relationship” and to post the article, with Longmire’s photo, on a “Free the Bakery Brothers” website on which Bey IV proclaimed he was innocent of dozens of felony charges he was facing.
-Former Oakland Detective Louis Cruz, Longmire’s partner on the Bailey investigation, told state investigators in early 2009 that he did “not think Longmire did an adequate investigation in the Bailey homicide” by failing to pursue Bey IV for ordering the slaying. “This case is not a total success until Yusuf IV gets charged because he’s behind this case, without a doubt. … You could bet your house on it,” Cruz is quoted in the report. He declined to comment Wednesday.
-Jim Rullamas, another Oakland detective, said that despite being ordered by the District Attorney’s Office to search the bakery for Bey IV’s cellphone a few weeks after Bailey’s death, he and Longmire went there for only “five to 10 minutes and never did any searching for the phone” and left after speaking to Bey IV’s common-law wife.
-When Mackey, who had been released after an Aug. 3, 2007, raid on the bakery, was spotted a few days later, Longmire said he didn’t need to interrogate him even though Mackey was thought to be the getaway driver in the van seen leaving the Bailey shooting scene.
-Longmire eventually returned to work as a patrol sergeant after being suspended after a separate internal affairs investigation found mistakes in 10 of his other homicide cases. In one of those cases, Longmire did not give evidence to the department’s crime lab for analysis.
-Longmire didn’t document all of the phone calls Bey IV made to him from jail, despite orders to do so. He later asserted that he accepted the calls to keep Bey IV talking to try to get him to slip up about the Bailey killing. However, other documents filed in Longmire’s lawsuit show that police commanders were so concerned about the calls that they sought legal advice on how to stop them, but were told Longmire had a right to speak with whom he pleased outside of his job.
The report was prepared in 2009, after then-Mayor Ron Dellums requested a state investigation of the department’s work on the Bailey case.
Longmire has never been reprimanded or disciplined in connection with the case; police attempted to fire Longmire in 2009 on charges he intentionally compromised the case to protect Bey IV, an effort that eventually was dropped because his intentions could not be determined.
There “was not sufficient evidence to prove or disprove” whether Longmire’s lack of work on the case was an effort to shield Bey IV from charges, interim Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan said in legal papers that are part of a federal lawsuit Longmire has brought against the city; Jordan is a defendant in the suit.
The Department of Justice, in a 2010 written statement issued after the city didn’t fire Longmire, said its investigators stood behind their findings.
Longmire and his lawyer, John Scott, both declined to comment Wednesday. Scott referred reporters to a September court filing in which he argued Jordan did know “that the decision not to prosecute Bey IV had nothing to do with Longmire,” claiming county prosecutors weren’t interested in pursuing the case further.
City lawyers, who included the report in a recent legal filing, also declined to comment.
Longmire has sharply criticized the city, saying he did nothing wrong and that he is a victim of religious persecution because of a false belief among police commanders that he is a Black Muslim and was a member of the now-defunct bakery. Longmire said his First Amendment rights were violated by a department gag order that prevented him from publicly discussing the Bailey case as criticism mounted.
Bey IV and Mackey were not charged with Bailey’s killing until the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office reinvestigated the case and won indictments in April 2009. A jury convicted the two men, both 25, of murder earlier this year. Each is now in state prison serving multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Devaughndre Broussard, then 19 and a self-described good soldier in Bey IV’s militant organization, confessed to Longmire that he killed Bailey just hours after police raided the bakery on Aug. 3, 2007. He accepted a plea deal and provided key trial testimony, but investigators reworking the case said several months earlier that there was enough evidence to charge Bey IV in Bailey’s death based on facts known right after the killing.
Longmire and his then-homicide commander, Ersie Joyner, told investigators they backed off because former District Attorney Tom Orloff didn’t want to pursue Bey IV for murder because he was already facing other charges for which he faced life in prison. But Jordan, who said in recent court papers that he was in contact with Orloff’s staff, received no such instructions.