Suspended Oakland investigator had more conversations with Bey IV than previously thought
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Suspended police Sgt. Derwin Longmire had more undocumented contact with former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and his family after the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey than previously has been made public, recorded phone calls reveal.
They include jail telephone conversations between Longmire and Bey IV in early 2008 and apparent conversations and text messages the then-homicide detective had with Bey IV’s common-law wife and sister about the Bailey case, according to phone recordings. None are mentioned in Longmire’s case notes, according to copies of those documents.
The calls also show that Bey IV seemed to think of Longmire as the bakery’s protector.
In a call the day after his August 2007 arrest, Bey IV told his common-law wife, Tiffany Wade, also known as Alaia Bey, that he feared other members of the Bey family would try to seize the bakery in his absence.
“Make sure you have Longmire’s number in case people from the family come (so) you can call him and say, ‘We don’t want these people here.’ You should call him first and say, ‘If this were to happen, can you send some officers to assist,’” Bey IV told Alaia Bey, urging her to “keep Longmire close.”
Michael Rains, Longmire’s lawyer, said Bey IV and his family members have no credibility and that the sergeant, who is suspended with pay pending his termination, did nothing wrong.
In a call between Bey IV and Longmire in February 2008, Longmire said he had been passing on messages from Alaia Bey to another detective investigating accusations of kidnapping and torture of two women for which Bey IV is jailed without bail.
But Longmire said he “had to remain neutral” and could not do any more than that to help Bey IV in the kidnapping case because “it turns this whole Bailey thing into a bigger issue.”
There is no reference to the call in Longmire’s case notes on the Bailey killing, according to a copy of those records.
At the time, Bey IV was not charged in Bailey’s slaying and had been secretly recorded bragging that Longmire, a family friend who was the lead investigator on the case, was protecting him from charges. A grand jury in April indicted Bey IV for ordering Bailey’s Aug. 2, 2007, killing.
Devaughndre Broussard, one of Bey’s followers, has pleaded guilty to the killing and told the grand jury that Bey IV ordered the killing to prevent Bailey from writing about the bakery’s bankruptcy in the Oakland Post.
Longmire remains suspended pending termination proceedings following a California Department of Justice investigation of his relationship with Bey IV and investigation of Bailey’s killing. A police spokesman said he could not discuss the matter because it is ongoing and involves confidential personnel matters.
In April, acting police Chief Howard Jordan said Longmire had been unable “to separate his relationship with the bakery and do his job.”
Bey IV’s lawyer did not respond to an interview request.
Rains insisted in an interview with the Chauncey Bailey Project on Tuesday that Longmire should be returned to duty. Rains said a decision on the firing is expected within the week.
Longmire “got calls from Bey IV,” Rains said, adding that Longmire told other officers about the calls and was not hiding anything. “He knew Bey IV was responsible” for Bailey’s killing but lacked enough evidence to charge him.
The only thing Longmire can be criticized for is “not being good at paperwork,” Rains said.
Two experts in police procedure who have reviewed Longmire’s work for the Chauncey Bailey Project said the lack of references to the conversations in the case notes is another troubling aspect to the case.
“It’s glaringly conspicuous in its absence,” said retired Boston police Lt. Thomas Nolan, who teaches criminology at Boston University.
When a murder suspect telephones a detective assigned to the case, “It is imperative it be memorialized,” he said.
Not including in case notes contact with a suspect “is a mortal sin in police work,” said former San Francisco Chief Deputy Public Defender Peter Keane, now a law professor.
“If you don’t have documentation of that process, you’re not doing your job. The most amateur cop who comes out of the police academy knows, and it has been drummed into his head, ‘Document it. Write it down,’” Keane said.
“It is very difficult to understand, or believe, that these types of important contacts, in any kind of case involving Bey IV, that there would be any excuse for not documenting them,” he said.
The Chauncey Bailey Project reported in October that Longmire’s notes on the Bailey case did not include references to evidence that pointed to a conspiracy involving Bey IV to kill the journalist, including a report on data from a tracking device that showed his car parked outside Bailey’s apartment less than seven hours before the slaying.
The project also reported in October that Longmire was talking with Bey IV from jail, conversations that were not documented in his case notes. In one of those calls, a recording of which was made public earlier this year, Longmire said he would defend himself against those who would “crucify” him for being friends with Bey IV.
It is unclear how much state investigators knew of Longmire’s contact with Bey IV’s sister Jannah and Alaia Bey, or the early 2008 phone calls with Bey IV.
In one conversation, Alaia Bey told Bey IV that his sister had spoken with Longmire the day after the Aug. 3, 2007, raid on the bakery and argued that Longmire was attempting to steer blame for Bailey’s killing away from Bey IV.
Months later, in June 2008, after the Chauncey Bailey Project reported on a secretly recorded videotape that showed Bey IV mocking Bailey’s killing and saying he hid the shotgun used in the assassination in his bedroom closet, Bey IV told his mother, Daulet Bey, to tell Jannah Bey to call Longmire.
“Tell Jannah to get in contact with Longmire and tell him all the questions (about the tape). I have answers to them,” Bey IV said.
Rains said Bey IV and his relatives cannot be believed when referring to other contacts with Longmire. The suspended officer kept a large array of confidential sources in the criminal underworld, Rains said, calling it one of Longmire’s strengths as an investigator.
It is possible, he said, that members of the Bey organization were among those contacts.
Nolan, the former Boston officer turned professor, said most “sophisticated police departments” have complex policies regarding the use of informants and communications with them that require detailed documentations and records.
Chauncey Bailey Project reporters Roland De Wolk of KTVU and independent journalist Mary Fricker contributed to this story. Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter. Reach him at email@example.com. To learn more about the Chauncey Bailey Project, go to www.chaunceybaileyproject.org.