Oakland police officer sues Sgt. Derwin Longmire for sexual harassment
By Thomas Peele and Matthew Artz, Bay Area News Group
A high-profile Oakland police sergeant, whose investigation of the Chauncey Bailey homicide was widely criticized, has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by a female officer who alleges that when she rejected his advances she was “denied backup and cover” by other officers in street situations.
Sgt. Derwin Longmire, 48, is also accused in the suit, filed by Officer Helene Schmitt, of carrying on “an on-duty sexual relationship” with two other female subordinates and rewarding them with preferential treatment, such as allowing them to sometimes “have their hair done” in San Francisco when they were supposed to be on duty in Oakland.
Longmire declined to comment on the allegations Friday afternoon and referred questions to his attorney, Michael Rains, who did not return messages. The city is also named as a defendant. A spokesman for the city attorney’s office declined to discuss the matter or make lawyers available for interviews.
In 2010, Longmire filed a federal lawsuit against the department and Chief Howard Jordan claiming that he was a victim of discrimination because of false beliefs that he was a Black Muslim and an affiliate of Your Black Muslim Bakery, whose leader, Yusuf Bey IV, was convicted of ordering the killing of Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, in 2007.
A judge dismissed the suit last year. Longmire has a suit containing similar allegations against the department and Jordan pending in state court.
Schmitt claims that Longmire “would place his body against (Schmitt’s), forcing her into unwelcome physical embraces, repeatedly kissing and attempting to kiss (her) on the lips and elsewhere,” the suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court on March 29, alleges. The alleged accused behavior started in May 2010.
Schmitt’s attorney, Calvin Chang, said on Friday that he did not name the other officers who allegedly carried on affairs with Longmire because he believes that they’re also victims of sexual harassment and may pursue legal action themselves.
When Schmitt resisted Longmire’s advances, he “began a systematic course of retaliation” against her, by limiting her work hours and opportunities for overtime assignments. The suit also alleges that Longmire had unspecified “safety equipment” of Schmitt’s “disabled” and denied her backup and cover from other officers.
In addition, the suit also claims that Longmire once accused Schmitt of “being a mole,” or spy, for department commanders he claimed were “trying to get rid of” him.
“Officer Schmitt is not a mole for the Oakland Police Department,” Chang said in a telephone interview on Friday. He said Schmitt’s claim about Longmire creating “a hostile work environment” had already been found true by the department, but he did not know if the officer had been disciplined.
The department declined to comment on “pending litigation.” But spokeswoman Johnna Watson said, “The Oakland Police Department takes all allegations against our employees seriously.”
Longmire, who once headed the police intelligence unit, was assigned to investigate Bailey’s murder despite deep-rooted suspicions that he was a bakery sympathizer, if not a member, according to legal documents. When Bey IV went uncharged for more than a year and police records showed Longmire failed to follow up on evidence pointing to him, then-Mayor Ron Dellums asked the state justice department to investigate.
State investigators concluded in 2009 that Longmire “intentionally compromised’ the Bailey investigation. But the department eventually was forced to drop efforts to fire him, claiming the investigation was rushed to meet a statute of limitations and was not complete.
Longmire, who denied any affiliation with the bakery, returned to work in the patrol division as a supervisor. A subsequent investigation of 10 homicide cases that he had conducted found that he had made errors in each of them, including sloppy work and not turning in evidence for processing. He served a short, unpaid suspension.