Chauncey Bailey Project

Oakland internal affairs wants state to take over Bailey probe

California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums
California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums

California Attorney General Jerry Brown and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums

By Thomas Peele, Bob Butler and Mary Fricker, The Chauncey Bailey Project

OAKLAND — Police internal affairs detectives investigating the handling of journalist Chauncey Bailey’s slaying will have state investigators present when they interview members of their department’s command staff.

Investigators from the attorney general’s office will be there to monitor the interviews, according to a letter the Department of Justice sent to Mayor Ron Dellums in November.

But the Justice Department won’t take over the whole investigation — which is apparently what Oakland internal affairs investigators wanted, the letter stated.

“We do not believe, as has been suggested by the Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigator, that the Police Department investigation be halted or postponed pending our review,” George B. Anderson, Director of the Division of Law Enforcement, wrote to Dellums on Nov. 26.

While urging the mayor to order police to keep probing how the Bailey case was conducted, Anderson told Dellums that state investigators will take “appropriate independent actions such as “… pursuing their own investigative leads” and “we should be present” at any interviews with department commanders.

Detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire, the lead investigator of Bailey’s killing; his boss, homicide unit Lt. Ersie Joyner; and Deputy Chief Jeffrey Loman are being investigated.

Assistant Chief Howard Jordan declined to take questions Monday. Dellums was having “a busy day” and had no time for an interview, his spokesman, Paul Rose said. A spokeswoman for Brown, Christine Gasparac, refused to entertain questions about Anderson’s letter.

Also, late Monday, Rose announced that Dellums has tapped former Alameda County Superior Court Judge Henry Ramsey to oversee for him how the investigations are handled.

Dellums in October said he wanted a “qualified criminal investigations consultant” to aid in the probes. Rose said the exact scope of Ramsey’s duties were still being defined and he had not yet started work.

The retired jurist, 74, who has been a law-school professor and dean, said Monday he hasn’t “heard a thing from the mayor since we talked about 10 days ago.”

It was unclear Monday when and why internal affairs detectives asked to be taken off the case, or why Anderson singled out command staff interviews in the letter. Several officers, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Chauncey Bailey Project in recent weeks that they had doubts about the integrity of internal investigations involving commanders.

Anderson, in the letter to Dellums, urged an aggressive investigation.

“We encourage the city to immediately review the results of the IA investigation to date to ensure that appropriate disciplinary proceedings are taken where sustainable allegations of misconduct are found,” Anderson wrote, pointing out that state law requires administrative charges against police to be filed within a year of discovering misconduct.

Dellums asked Attorney General Jerry Brown, former Oakland mayor, to investigate the handling of the case after the Chauncey Bailey Project reported in October that Longmire failed to document significant evidence in his case notes that points to a conspiracy to kill the journalist.

A masked gunman shot Bailey three times on Aug. 2, 2007, as the veteran journalist walked to his job at the Oakland Post.

A dishwasher at a business that had become something of an institution in Oakland, the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, confessed to the killing, then recanted. The bakery’s leader, Yusuf Bey IV, was later secretly recorded by police bragging that Longmire, his friend, was protecting him from charges.

Bey IV, who is jailed without bail in an unrelated case, is not charged in Bailey’s killing, a crime authorities suspect he ordered. In an extremely rare move, Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff has assigned two inspectors to independently reinvestigate the Bailey case separately from Oakland police.

At the heart of the various probes is Longmire. The detective befriended Bey IV and began mentoring him several years ago. “Longmire was kind of a big brother to him and kind of trying to keep him in line a bit,” one of Bey IV’s lawyers, Lorna Brown, said recently.

Longmire’s case notes of the Bailey case fail to mention several pieces of evidence that suggest Bey IV played a key role in Bailey’s killing. They include a phone conversation Longmire had with an intelligence officer who told him a tracking device hidden on Bey IV’s car showed Bey IV outside Bailey apartment seven hours before the killing. The notes also did not document the clandestine recording on which Bey IV mocked the fatal shotgun blasts and said he put the weapon in his bedroom closet later that day.

Longmire also used Bey IV — who had claimed to have played no role in the slaying — to help pressure Broussard to confess, leaving the two alone for six minutes in an interrogation room and failing to record their conversation.

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