Jaxon Van Derbeken
March 7, 2009
The friendly phone conversations that the lead Oakland police investigator in the Chauncey Bailey killing had with the jailed leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery last year were “absolutely aboveboard,” the officer’s attorney said Friday.
Michael Rains said police Sgt. Derwin Longmire’s talks with Yusuf Bey IV were simply an indication of how Longmire deals respectfully even with people who are possible targets of criminal investigations.
“I didn’t hear anything as Derwin’s lawyer that troubled me in the least,” Rains said after listening to recordings of two phone calls, the contents of which were reported Friday in The Chronicle.
The conversations took place in June and August 2008, long after a bakery handyman had been charged with murdering Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, in August 2007. The handyman, Devaughndre Broussard, confessed after Longmire put him in a room with Bey but later retracted his statement, saying the bakery leader had pressured him to “take the fall.”
Bey has not been charged with the killing, but is awaiting trial on kidnapping and torture charges in another case. He talked to Longmire from Santa Rita Jail, where the calls were automatically recorded.
During one of the calls, Longmire assured Bey that he was not concerned about people who would “crucify” him because “you and I have been able to get along very well.”
Oakland’s acting chief of police, Howard Jordan, said he was concerned about the calls and that they were part of an internal affairs investigation related to Longmire, a 23-year veteran of the department.
Longmire and Bey have been friends since 2005, Rains said Friday. After his arrest in the kidnap-torture case in August 2007, Bey boasted to followers in a secretly recorded video that his ties to Longmire explained why police did not “pin the (Bailey) murder on me.”
However, Rains noted that Longmire had suggested in a search warrant affidavit that Bey was “complicit” in the slaying, had lied about his whereabouts and had stalked Bailey, who was researching the bakery’s infighting and financial problems.
Longmire, who was reassigned to patrol duty last fall, has declined to talk about the Bailey investigation publicly. Rains did not return a call seeking comment before The Chronicle’s story on the phone conversations appeared.
He contacted the paper Friday, saying he had listened to the calls for the first time earlier that day on The Chronicle’s Web site.
Rains acknowledged that the friendly phone conversations were out of the ordinary, given that the participants were a police investigator and a possible murder suspect. But he added, “These calls are absolutely aboveboard” and were simply cordial exchanges between men who respected one another.
Longmire “has always treated (Bey) with what I think is dignity, decency and respect,” Rains said. “The calls speak for themselves – they represent how Derwin is with anybody and everybody.”
He said Longmire is skilled at building bonds and obtaining information from suspects, and that his relationship with Bey was nothing different.
Rains said the calls could have proved useful, had Bey said anything incriminating in the Bailey case.
“I don’t think it’s wrong for him to talk to this guy,” Rains said. “I think it’s damn good police work.”
The attorney also dismissed a jailhouse informant’s account to investigators with the Alameda County district attorney’s office that Bey had boasted of providing Longmire with women to keep on his good side. Rains called the informant’s story “complete nonsense.”