Judge tosses out police sergeant’s lawsuit against Oakland
By Thomas Peele and Josh Richman, The Chauncey Bailey Project
A federal judge has dismissed Oakland police Sgt. Derwin Longmire’s discrimination suit against the city, ruling that there is no evidence that the department’s aborted attempt to fire him for his handling of the Chauncey Bailey murder investigation was improper.
“Undisputed evidence demonstrates that (Longmire) had an affiliation with (Your Black Muslim Bakery) and its members and that was sufficient cause to initiate an internal affairs investigation,” U.S district Court Judge Jeffrey White wrote in a 15-page decision filed Monday.
White wrote that Longmire failed “to refute the city’s legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for its conduct and has no direct evidence that a discriminatory reason motivated his employer.”
Longmire still has a separate suit pending against the city in state court. In the now-dismissed federal suit, Longmire claimed interim police Chief Howard Jordan and Lt. Sean Whent, in charge of the department’s internal affairs division, falsely believed he was a Black Muslim. That belief, Longmire said, was their basis for pursuing disciplinary action against him after state investigators concluded he intentionally compromised his investigation of Bailey’s 2007 murder for which three bakery members are now in state prison.
But testimony from several Oakland police officials eventually led them to believe the state investigation as well as another investigation done by the city’s hired consultant both were too flawed to definitively say what had happened and so did not support discipline against Longmire for his handling of the case. Longmire is now a patrol division sergeant.
Longmire’s attorney, John Scott, said Longmire’s claim that he was discriminated against because he was wrongly perceived to be a Black Muslim could not be brought in the federal case and is still pending in the state lawsuit.
Still, Scott said, Longmire will appeal the federal judge’s decision.
Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker was not available for comment late Tuesday.
The next hearing in the federal case had been scheduled for Dec. 9, but the judge decided not to wait; that hearing is canceled.
White wrote that Longmire “has not demonstrated that the city’s conduct qualifies as an adverse employment action and he has not demonstrated that other, similarly situated individuals … were treated more favorably.”
“The undisputed facts demonstrate that the city had legitimate reasons for its conduct,” the judge wrote. “There is no dispute — and, in fact, plaintiff concedes — that it was proper police procedure to initiate an internal affairs investigation where there were allegations that an officer might have an affiliation with a possible homicide suspect.”
Longmire also had claimed he was kept on administrative leave in retaliation for a complaint submitted by his lawyer during the investigation, in which he claimed his rights to due process had been violated and he’d been discriminated against. But White wrote that there’s “simply no evidence to support (Longmire’s) speculative allegation that the letter submitted by his lawyer was a substantial or motivating factor in the decision to continue plaintiff’s administrative leave.”