Chauncey Bailey Project

Appeals court affirms dismissal of Longmire lawsuit against Oakland

Sgt. Derwin Longmire, Oakland Police Department
Sgt. Derwin Longmire, Oakland Police Department

By Thomas Peele
The Chauncey Bailey Project

A state appellate court has upheld a lower court decision to throw out a discrimination lawsuit against the City of Oakland by a police officer who investigated the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey in 2007.

Sgt. Derwin Longmire had claimed he was discriminated against because former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan and others believed he was a member of the Black Muslim religion and affiliated with the now defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, whose members were found responsible for Bailey’s slaying.

After state Department of Justice investigators found in 2009 that Longmire “intentionally compromised” the Bailey investigation, Jordan fired him. But that decision was quickly overturned on appeal and Longmire sued the city and Jordan in both state and federal court. Both of those suits were eventually dismissed.

Monday, a three-justice panel of the First District Court of Appeals in San Francisco issued a 39-page decision agreeing with the dismissal of the state suit. An appeal of the federal suit remains pending.

Longmire relied only on “circumstantial evidence” to make the discrimination claim, justices wrote in a 3-0 decision. “None of his evidence could lead a reasonable factfinder to conclude the discipline was based on religious discrimination.”

Longmire’s lawyer, John Scott, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The bakery leader, Yusuf Bey IV, was convicted in 2011 of ordering Bailey’s murder because the journalist was working on a story about the bakery. Justices noted in their decision that at least three Oakland police officers testified in the suit that they believed Longmire had an inappropriate relationship with Bey IV. After the aborted firing, Longmire was assigned to the patrol division.

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