Lawyer: DA not interested in wider probe in journalist Bailey’s slaying
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — The investigation into journalist Chauncey Bailey’s 2007 slaying may have languished in the days after the crime because of an impression that former District Attorney Tom Orloff wasn’t interested in aggressively pursuing a larger case than the initial charge against confessed gunman Devaughndre Broussard, according to a memo prepared by a lawyer.
“My boss, Mr. O, is not interested in charging Yusuf Bey IV with conspiracy to commit murder. He’s not going to charge him,” the lawyer, Michael Rains, quoted one of Orloff’s deputies as telling then-Oakland police homicide chief Ersie Joyner days after Bailey was gunned down in Oakland.
The quote comes from a document Rains prepared in his defense of embattled Oakland police Sgt. Derwin Longmire, who tentatively won reinstatement last week after a long suspension stemming from questions surrounding his handling of the case.
Bey IV, the former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, was eventually indicted 16 months later on a charge he ordered Bailey killed.
Orloff was content to not pursue Bey IV in the Bailey case because Bey IV was being charged in an unrelated kidnapping case and faced a life sentence, Rains wrote, attributing the claim to conversations between Joyner and Orloff’s chief prosecutor, Tom Rogers.
The district attorney’s assessment sent police a message that they need not pursue evidence against Bey IV in Bailey’s killing, an officer with direct knowledge of the investigation said. Given Orloff’s position, “Why would we spend resources on that case?” the officer said.
But Orloff, who retired in September, dismissed the idea Friday that he wasn’t interested in tying Bey IV to the killing, saying Rains lacks credibility and there was never any backing away from the case. It was Orloff who ordered his staff to eventually seek a murder indictment against Bey IV.
‘A strong case’
In the document, Rains quoted Joyner as telling state investigators that Rogers told him, “We have a strong case as far as the kidnapping case and (Orloff) isn’t interested in pursuing other charges.” That conversation followed an Aug. 5, 2007, meeting with Orloff, according to the document.
Orloff called that quote “triple hearsay.”
“There was never any decision not to pursue Bey IV,” Orloff said Friday.
Rogers was not in his office Friday and could not be reached.
Orloff denied meeting with Rogers Aug. 5, a Sunday, and said he never spoke in definitive terms about not wanting Bey IV charged. “It just didn’t happen,” he said. The case “took time. Look at the end result.”
In July 2008, however, 11 months after the killing, Orloff was quoted in a legal newspaper saying he saw only “marginal benefit to spending a lot of resources” pursuing murder charges against Bey IV.
Orloff’s staff began investigating the killing independently in 2008. By the end of the year, one staff member expressed confidence that Bey IV would be charged, but was unsure about Bey IV follower Antoine Mackey. When Broussard agreed in March to cooperate, his testimony cinched Mackey’s indictment.
In exchange, Broussard pleaded guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and will receive a 25-year sentence if he continues to cooperate. He has given chilling accounts of shooting down both Bailey and another man, Odell Roberson, on Bey IV’s order, according to testimony transcripts. Orloff said the plea deal and sentence terms were worth Broussard’s cooperation.
Rains’ defense of Longmire relied, in part, on statements from Rogers and fellow prosecutor Christopher Lamiero, who said they saw no indication that the detective intentionally shielded Bey IV from charges, which a Police Department and state Justice Department investigation alleged.
The lawyer also contended on technical grounds that Longmire couldn’t be terminated because the one-year statute of limitations for imposing discipline on a public employee expired before the 23-year veteran was notified of the case against him.
Assistant Chief Howard Jordan, who made the decision to reinstate Longmire, effectively rejecting the findings of state and internal affairs investigators, hasn’t commented. A spokesman said the department is bound by laws making police personnel matters confidential.
An agreement under which Longmire will serve a five-day unpaid suspension for infractions found in other homicide cases is not final. Rains said last week he recommended Longmire accept that discipline. Rains did not respond to a message Friday asking him to comment further.
New chief weighs in
New police Chief Anthony Batts said the decision not to fire Longmire — who has been on administrative leave since April — was made before Batts was sworn in Tuesday.
“Those decisions were made before me stepping in the door,” Batts said. “I can’t comment much on it because I don’t have the background on the personnel issues that took place on that.”
Longmire has never spoken publicly about his suspension or the Bailey case. Rains’ 60-page document quotes extensively from his interview with state investigators.
He denied having any type of relationship with Bey IV, who was recorded on both video and in jail phone calls saying the detective was protecting him from charges in Bailey’s killing. But Longmire said that because he had gotten to know the Bey family, he was able to get Bey IV to “open up” during two interviews on Aug. 3, 2007.
He said he was then able to get Bey IV to persuade Broussard to admit to killing Bailey. Nearly 18 months later, Broussard told a grand jury that Bey IV ordered Bailey killed and Mackey helped him carry out the hit.
Broussard also admitted to the grand jury that he killed another man, Roberson, and that Mackey shot dead a third man, Michael Wills.
Longmire said without Broussard’s confession all three killings might be unsolved.
Other officers, including Jordan, told the investigators that they believed Longmire had a relationship with Bey IV that compromised his investigation of Bailey’s killing.
“He seems to be like a conduit to the bakery,” Sgt. Gus Galindo told an internal affairs investigator. Lt. Mike Yoell told the same investigator, “There’s no doubt about it. I guess he had some type of mentoring or social relationship with Bey IV.”
Rains pointed out that Galindo was not asked follow-up questions to substantiate his point, calling the remarks by both officers “rumor and innuendo.”
Lack of documentation
The Chauncey Bailey Project reported a year ago that Longmire didn’t document in his case notes evidence pointing to Bey IV’s alleged role in the killing.
Longmire told investigators he hid no evidence in the case.
A report on a tracking device hidden on Bey IV’s car showed it had been parked outside Bailey’s apartment seven hours before the killing. It had been placed there as part of the kidnapping investigation.
“I was not part of that,” Longmire told investigators. They listed his lack of documenting the device in his notes as one of four missteps they found the detective made that they believed showed he should have been disciplined.
The other missteps were not listing in his case notes a secretly recorded video made for the kidnapping case on which Bey IV mocked Bailey’s killing and said he put the shotgun Broussard used in his bedroom closet; that he failed to record Bey IV and Broussard speaking alone before Broussard’s confession; and saying he didn’t need to talk to Mackey even though Mackey was suspected of being Broussard’s accomplice. Longmire claimed he didn’t know about the video until Rogers told him about it and didn’t see it until he saw portions of it on television, apparently in June 2008. He said there was no taping capability in the interrogation room where Bey IV and Broussard talked other than leaving a device in plain sight where it would have been spotted and that he never said he didn’t need to talk to Mackey.
Rains wrote that it was Cruz, not Longmire, who was seeking Mackey as a suspect in the Wills killing. The person who reportedly heard Longmire say he didn’t need to talk to Mackey isn’t identified in the document.