Chauncey Bailey Project

Judge expected to throw out Sgt. Derwin Longmire’s discrimination suit against Oakland

Oakland Police Sergeant Derwin Longmire answers questions from the media in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (Anda Chu/BANG Staff)
Oakland Police Sergeant Derwin Longmire answers questions from the media in San Francisco, Calif., on Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (Anda Chu/BANG Staff)

Oakland Police Sergeant Derwin Longmire answers questions from the media in San Francisco Wednesday, April 7, 2010. (Anda Chu/BANG Staff)

By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project

HAYWARD — A Superior Court judge has tentatively thrown out a discrimination suit against Oakland and two police commanders brought by a former homicide detective who claimed internal investigations of how he probed the 2007 murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey were motivated by religious and racial prejudice.

Alameda County Judge John True, writing in a tentative decision released late Wednesday, rejected the claims of Sgt. Derwin Longmire that he was discriminated against because Police Chief Howard Jordan and others believed he was a Black Muslim and sympathetic to members of Your Black Muslim Bakery.

True did not make the order final at a hearing late Thursday.

Longmire’s lawyer, John Scott, argued that since Jordan said he believed Longmire “was associated with” the Black Muslim movement, the suit should go forward.

But the city’s lawyer, Madelyn Jordan-Davis, said that even if Jordan believed that, there is no evidence that he discriminated against Longmire because of it.

Scott told the judge that if Jordan thought Longmire was a Black Muslim, “the inference is he discriminated.”

Longmire “has not presented sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that he was subjected to harassment because of his religion or perceived religion,” True wrote in the tentative decision.

A similar lawsuit Longmire brought in federal district court was also dismissed last year.
Bailey was shot to death on a downtown Oakland street on Aug. 2, 2007. Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV was convicted last year of ordering his killing to stop a story that the journalist was writing for the Oakland Post, a weekly newspaper.

Longmire investigated the case. But after the gunman, bakery follower Devaughndre Broussard, confessed to the shooting, the investigation foundered and Bey IV, who was in jail awaiting trial in a separate case, was not charged for nearly two years.

State Justice Department investigators eventually concluded that Longmire had compromised the investigation, and the city began the process of firing him in early 2009. That effort stalled, though, when police officials found that the state investigation was sloppy and eventually ruled that they could not definitively determine what had happened during Longmire’s investigation.

“There was not enough evidence one way or another,” Jordan-Davis said in court Thursday.

A later investigation found that Longmire had made mistakes like failing to turn in evidence in 10 other homicide cases, all of which remain unsolved. He was given a 20-day suspension that was eventually reduced to eight days. Scott argued Thursday that the mandated punishment Longmire should have received was a one-day suspension, proving Longmire was discriminated against.

In depositions given in both his federal and state lawsuits and in a statement to the state investigators, Longmire repeatedly said that he did nothing wrong and is not a Black Muslim or the follower of any other religion.

Longmire, who now works as a patrol officer, did not attend Thursday’s hearing. He has said in court papers that the fallout of the Bailey case caused him tremendous personnel stress and likely will cost him a chance to become a district attorney inspector when he leaves Oakland Police.

Follow Thomas Peele at twitter.com/thomas_peele

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