Chauncey Bailey Project

Investigator interfered in police probes of former bakery CEO

Oakland homicide detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire
Oakland homicide detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire

Oakland homicide detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire

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By Thomas Peele, Bob Butler and Mary Fricker
The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Well before the August 2007 killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey, detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire twice interfered in felony investigations of former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV, according to police documents obtained and interviews conducted during a yearlong investigation by the Chauncey Bailey Project.

In both cases, Bey IV was charged with crimes despite Longmire’s actions.

In one, he continued to talk to Bey IV about one case after an investigator told him not to, according to police documents. In the other case, he tried to get evidence returned to the Bey family before it could be analyzed, said law enforcement sources familiar with the situation.

Police internal affairs detectives are now investigating Longmire’s relationship with Bey IV and his work on the Bailey slaying case.

Longmire did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. Police Chief Wayne Tucker and Assistant Chief Howard Jordan rejected interview requests. Jordan and homicide unit commander Lt. Ersie Joyner have both praised Longmire in past interviews, calling him professional and ethical.

A janitor and dishwasher at the former bakery, Devaughndre Broussard, is the only person charged in Bailey’s Aug. 2, 2007, killing. Longmire case notes seemingly ignore evidence linking Bey IV to a role in the killing, including data from a tracking device and cell phone records, according to a copy of those case notes that the Bailey Project obtained.

The detective’s actions in the other cases in turn “raise lots of questions as to his neutrality … his impartiality” in the Bailey investigation, and “whether or not he had some sort of agenda that favored the people who ran the bakery,” said Peter Keane, a former San Francisco police commissioner and dean emeritus of Golden Gate University School of Law.

In November 2005, when Bey IV was under investigation in the vandalism and robbery of two North Oakland liquor stores, Longmire made repeated incursions into the case even after the case’s lead investigator admonished him.

He interfered in another case involving Bey IV in June 2007, when the bakery leader was under investigation by other detectives on suspicion that he led four of his followers in the kidnapping and torture of two women. After Bey IV’s Aug. 3, 2007, arrest in that case, he continued to interfere in it.

“Just to (put) yourself into someone else’s case without their awareness, knowledge and approval, that’s a violation of (police) protocol. You just don’t do that,” said Thomas Nolan, a retired Boston police lieutenant who now teaches criminology at Boston University.

Keane said Longmire took on “roles that were far different from just the straightforward, professional role of an investigator impartially investigating criminal activity. He seemed — from what we can see — to have other agendas. I think he’s going to have to speak to those at some point.”

The liquor store

The night before Thanksgiving in 2005, shortly after he took control of the bakery after the killing of his older brother, Antar Bey, 20-year-old Yusuf Bey IV took his first public action as a leader of an institution that had for more than 30 years symbolized African-American self-reliance and militancy.

He led 10 men in suits and bow ties into two North Oakland liquor stores where they broke open beer coolers with baseball bats and smashed bottles of whiskey and other spirits on the floor.

A security camera at one of the stores taped the attack. The men also stole a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun from one of the store clerks. It was the gun that 21 months later would be used to kill Chauncey Bailey.

As part of the liquor store investigation, Oakland police Detective Dominique Arotzarena launched an aggressive search, using confidential informants who had worked at the bakery, to identify people on the video, which was shown on several newscasts.

On Nov. 27 — four days after the attack — Arotzarena wrote in his case notes that Longmire approached him about the investigation.

“He advised me that the mother of Yusuf Bey IV called him. She wanted Longmire to call him about the case,” Arotzarena wrote in his case notes. “Longmire asked me what he could tell Bey IV about the case.

“I told him not to reveal any details about the case, including the possibility of Bey (IV) being a suspect,” Arotzarena wrote.

But Longmire didn’t heed the admonishment.

An hour-and-a-half later, according to Arotzarena’s notes, Longmire approached him again and said he’d had another call from Bey IV’s mother, Daulet Bey.

Arotzarena didn’t write his response to the second approach. He declined to be interviewed for this story.

But the fact that he documented Longmire’s uninvited entries into the case is telling, said Nolan, the retired Boston detective who reviewed the notes.

“Obviously, there’s some kind of conflict that’s being memorialized here by (Arotzarena.) Something occurred that torqued (him) off . … particularly when he says, ‘I asked him not to reveal any details of the case,’ that’s a red flag to me as a former cop.

“It appears as though (Longmire’s) colleagues for various reasons, don’t trust him.” Nolan said.

With Bey IV captured on surveillance video leading the vandalism, why does Longmire “want to give him any kind of consideration, as far as getting hooked for it? It doesn’t make sense,” Nolan said.

On Nov. 28, Arotzarena was called to a meeting with then-Capt. Jeff Loman, head of the criminal investigations division, Deputy Chief Howard Jordan and Officer Anthony Rachal.

Loman told Arotzarena that Bey IV was “coming to the police department (the next day). Bey (IV) wanted to talk to the police about the vandalism,” according to Arotzarena’s notes.

The next morning, then-Alameda Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Tabor signed warrants for the arrest of Bey IV and five others at Arotzarena’s request.

Before Arotzarena could do anything with the warrants, Loman met with him again.

Loman “advised me that if Bey (IV) was completely forthcoming with information, we were to release him pending review of the case with” the district attorney’s office, Arotzarena wrote in his case notes.

Loman, a friend of Longmire’s, did not respond to requests for an interview. Homicide unit commander Lt. Ersie Joyner described Loman in April as knowing people at the bakery much the same way Longmire did, as part of the department’s efforts to get to know the community.

Shortly after Loman told Arotzarena not to arrest Bey IV, Bey IV showed up at police headquarters with Longmire, according to Arotzarena’s case notes.

“I never asked Bey (IV) to come down to the police department during this investigation, Arotzarena wrote. “He came down to meet with Longmire.”

The warrants were “not made public by this police department or me. Longmire organized this visit.”

Bey IV immediately asked for a lawyer. It is unclear how he knew there was a warrant for his arrest.

“I never spoke to Bey (IV) nor told him that he was under arrest,” Arotzarena wrote.

Longmire’s conduct was clearly outside of police protocol and raises serious questions about his ethics, Keane said.

“His getting involved in extraneous cases … when his fellow officers and colleagues didn’t want him involved raises some big questions” Keane said.

UC Berkeley law professor Charles Weisselberg said what is significant is that with Longmire arranging for Bey IV to come to the police station, Arotzarena lost control of the case.

A detective, he said, wants to be in charge of all aspects of an investigation, especially when a suspect is questioned and arrested. Because Bey IV came in with Longmire to surrender, Arotzarena “no longer had control of when (he) was going to arrest or have first contact with … Bey IV.”

Arotzarena “was very specific in stating that he had never asked for Bey IV to come down to the police department,” Weisselberg said.

“What jumps out at me is that the investigating officer thought it was sufficiently significant or serious to include it in the case notes,” Nolan said. Detectives, he said, rarely criticize colleagues in writing.

Bey IV pleaded no contest to eight felony charges in the liquor store case on July 30 and is to be sentenced next year.

The kidnapping case

In spring 2007, Bey IV and four of his followers — Tamon Halfin, Richard Lewis and his half-brothers, Yusuf Bey V and Joshua Bey — are accused of kidnapping two women at gunpoint by posing as police officers and stopping their car on Interstate 580.

Police say the five took the victims to an abandoned East Oakland house and tortured one of them in an attempt to extort money.

In testimony during a preliminary examination Jan. 24, one of the women described a brutal beating as she was tied to a chair, a bag over her head. She said the attackers beat her so hard she thought she’d been shot and that they threatened to violate her with a hot curling iron.

A police officer on routine patrol happened on the scene and rescued the women. Police say the five suspects escaped, but they left two cars and a cell phone at the scene. During the next several days, Joshua Bey and another follower of Yusuf Bey IV’s each reported one of the cars as stolen.

Police didn’t buy the claims.

Within a few days, detectives asked Joshua Bey and the other follower, Kahlil Raheem, to come in voluntarily give statements about the stolen cars. The idea was to lock the two into statements that detectives already suspected were false, said an Oakland detective with knowledge of the situation.

Joshua Bey and Raheem came in at separate times. Each time, Longmire showed up and briefly entered the interrogation room where the suspect was being kept. Longmire was uninvolved in the case and did not speak to the investigative detectives first, said the Oakland detective.

It is unknown what, if anything, was said. Joshua Bey on Feb. 1 pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and is scheduled to testify against the others at a Superior Court trial in exchange for a reduced sentence. Raheem, who was also charged in the liquor store case, pleaded no contest in July to one count of vandalism. In exchange for a sentence of probation, he testified against the kidnapping defendants at their preliminary hearing.

Both Joshua Bey and Raheem, in brief interviews with the Bailey Project, said they didn’t recall Longmire speaking to them.

When the bakery was raided Aug. 3, among the items seized were several computers. Police suspected they contained evidence of other crimes. Bey IV is also charged in a separate case with real estate fraud, including using false identities to apply for mortgages in June 2006.

Before those computers could be searched, law enforcement officials learned that Longmire was trying to get them returned to the Bey family.

Internal affairs investigators are looking at Longmire’s attempt to have those computers returned. The situation was serious enough that extra provisions were taken to keep the computers safeguarded as evidence, officials said.

The Bailey Project also has learned that Longmire worked to discredit the detective who worked on the kidnapping case and was in line to join the homicide unit. That detective, Jesse Grant, left the Oakland Police Department earlier this year, taking a job with the Berkeley Police Department.

He is described by some members of law enforcement who know him as an outstanding detective about to be promoted to sergeant in Oakland at the time of his departure.

Grant declined to be interviewed.

The detective said that Grant pointed out several times that he was finding evidence in the kidnapping case that was related to the Bailey case. But Longmire ignored him, the detective said, and worked to derail Grant’s career in the Oakland Police Department.

Grant “was blacklisted for doing the right thing,” the Oakland detective with knowledge of the situation said. “He’s an excellent investigator, he did a great job.”

Bey IV remains incarcerated without bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin awaiting trial in the kidnapping case. He is also being held in nine other criminal cases, including four felonies in Alameda County, a felony assault case in San Francisco, a gun possession case in Solano County and a stolen vehicle case in Contra Costa County, according to a summary prepared in August by Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton.

Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group. Bob Butler and Mary Fricker are independent journalists. Reach them at Tpeele@bayareanewsgroip.com, bobbutler7@comcast.net, and maryfricker@hughes.net.

The following reporters contributed to this story: Josh Richman of the Bay Area News Group, Will Evans of The Center for Investigative Reporting, Andrew Palma of San Francisco State University, Roland De Wolk of KTVU-TV, independent journalists Ethan Harp, Ronnie Cohen, G.W. Schultz, and Gene Durnell and student intern Marguerite Davenport.

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