by Mike Rains, Rains Lucia Stern, PC
I write this article with the satisfaction of knowing that Derwin Longmire proudly wears the uniform of an Oakland Police Sergeant. But it wasn’t that long ago that he came close to going from exalted and legendary homicide investigator to disgraced and unemployed ex-cop. This is a saga which could take many chapters to adequately explain, but I’ll try to be brief.
The Murder of Journalist Chauncey Bailey – The Investigation Begins
On the morning of August 2, 2007, I turned on the local news and saw an announcement of breaking news in the City of Oakland – a “prominent Oakland resident” had been repeatedly shot by a masked man with a shotgun in downtown Oakland, not far from the courthouse. The news reported that the victim had died from his wounds. That individual, as it turned out, was Chauncey Bailey, the Editor of the Oakland Post Newspaper. Mr. Bailey had been working on a story describing acts of criminality by members of “Your Black Muslim Bakery” in Oakland when he was killed.
The head of the Bakery was Yusef Bey IV who, with some of his Bakery followers, was well-known to the Oakland Police Department for involvement in a slew of recent crimes involving everything from vandalism of local liquor stores to kidnapping and murder.
In fact, the OPD had planned to serve a search warrant at the Bakery on August 1st, and to arrest Bey and some of his followers, but the service of the search warrant was delayed to August 3rd in order to allow the Department’s SWAT Team Commander to return from a backpacking trip. Although the OPD clearly had no reason to know that Bey IV was going to orchestrate the murder of Chauncey Bailey on the morning of August 2nd, the former police chief and the current police chief both insisted – falsely – to members of the local and national media that there had not been a plan to serve the search warrant at the Bakery the day before Bailey’s murder.
As I watched the news on the morning of August 2nd, I saw several members of the OPD and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office at the murder scene who I recognized. Notably, Sgt. Derwin Longmire was at the scene, and I thought to myself that Lt. Ersie Joyner, the Commander of the OPD Homicide Section, assigned his “A Team” to this case.
At the time of Chauncey Bailey’s murder, Sgt. Derwin Longmire had been a member of the Oakland Police Department for over 21 years and had an unblemished, discipline-free record. He had served his last 10 years in a variety of investigative positions, much of it in the Homicide Section, where OPD sent its best, brightest, most capable and hardest working investigators. Derwin had received countless accolades and commendations from district attorneys for his investigative work and his testimony at trials. In 1999, the Oakland Tribune commended him in an editorial for solving a high-profile murder case. He was highly regarded for his ability to solve cases by developing information through interviews of witnesses and suspects who were otherwise unwilling to talk to other police officers. Part of that highly regarded skill was due to the fact that Derwin treated everyone alike – including the most hardened criminal suspects – with decency, dignity and respect.
On August 2, 2007, Derwin Longmire had considerable knowledge about “Your Black Muslin Bakery” and its current leader, Yusef Bey IV. He had first gone into the Bakery in 1991, working as a Beat cop and assigned to the beat where the Bakery was located. He met Mustafa Bey, the Bakery’s counter-man at that time, and would pay occasional visits to the Bakery and discuss with Bey his perceptions of the distrust between members of the Bakery and the police. Even after Derwin’s assignment to that Beat ended, he would occasionally run into Bey in the community and would shake his hand and say hello.
In Derwin’s earlier dealings with the Bakery, he, like many others in the community, regarded the Bakery as both a successful and legitimate law-abiding Oakland business. But after Yusef Bey, Sr. passed away and Bakery leadership was turned over to his son, Antar, the Bakery evolved into more of a criminal enterprise than a legitimate business.
In 2002, Derwin had been assigned to the OPD Intelligence Unit and, upon his arrival, talked to one of the Unit’s members who had devoted considerable time to intelligence gathering concerning the Bakery and its members. Derwin learned that the Bakery was participating in conduct involving fraud. He sought the commitment from the Police Chief at the time to obtain assistance from the FBI to conduct extensive surveillance and an investigation of the Bakery as a criminal enterprise. His efforts resulted in a single FBI agent working with members of the Intelligence Unit on surveillance activities which lasted until the agent was transferred.
On August 2, 2007, when journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered, Sgt. Derwin Longmire was a member of the Homicide Section’s “A Team” and was particularly well situated to investigate the murder. Yet, I would later learn that he came to be “on call” for Homicides on August 2nd because his boss, Lt. Joyner, had been aware of the planned execution of the search warrant at the Bakery on the preceding day, and Joyner did not want Longmire involved in any aspect of the execution of the search warrant. Later, in an investigation conducted by the State Department of Justice, Lt. Joyner explained that he was aware that many individuals in the OPD were “suspicious” that Derwin Longmire had some kind of bond or friendship with Yusef Bey IV or other members of the Bakery. This “suspicion” had undoubtedly arisen because Derwin did not display overt contempt and hostility when he would see Bey or other members of the Bakery around town. Ironically, since Joyner intended to involve all of the investigators of the Homicide Section during the service of the search warrant at the Bakery on August 1st with the exception of Longmire, he had placed Longmire on standby for any Homicide callouts for August 2nd. Thus, in many respects, and unbeknownst to me as I watched the news footage that morning, Derwin Longmire was standing in the 200 block of 14th Street inside the crime scene by both accident and assignment.
Even though Derwin had become the lead investigator in the Chauncey Bailey murder investigation by accident, Lt. Joyner and others familiar with his abilities still knew he was the best investigator for that case. Indeed, in the aftermath of the initial murder, Lt. Joyner, Department leaders, representatives of the District Attorney’s Office, the State Department of Justice, and the FBI, all knew of Derwin’s assignment to the case.
Once he became involved in the investigation on August 2nd, Derwin wasted little time trying to solve the murder. In light of the murder, Longmire interviewed Bakery member Devaughndre Broussard, who admitted to killing Bailey. However, he denied that he acted at the direction of Yusef Bey IV, who was unhappy about Bailey’s impending article critical of the Bakery and Bey’s leadership. In light of Broussard’s claim that he acted alone, there was initially very little evidence directly linking Bey IV to the murder, as no one had seen him at the location where Bailey had been gunned down by Broussard. Derwin continued to try to develop enough evidence to convince District Attorney Tom Orloff to charge Bey IV, but in an article in the San Francisco Recorder (legal newspaper) dated July 2, 2008, Orloff claimed that he did not presently intend to charge Bey with the murder. Longmire continued to work to develop additional evidence.
But Derwin Longmire’s investigation of this murder came to a crashing halt shortly after a front page story initially appeared on October 26, 2008 in newspapers in the Bay Area entitled “Evidence Ignored in the Chauncey Bailey Case.” The story began with the following statement:
“The lead detective assigned to investigate journalist Chauncey Bailey’s killing ignored evidence linking Yusef Bey IV, former leader of your Black Muslim Bakery, to a role in the killing, and interfered in two other unrelated felony cases involving Bey IV.”
The article accused Longmire of engaging in a series of actions and/or omissions to ensure that Bey IV, with whom Longmire allegedly sympathized, would never be charged. This article, which included a large photograph of Derwin, was written by several Bay Area journalists who had founded “the Chauncey Bailey Project.” As one of the stated objectives, the “Project” was “to expand upon Bailey’s work, probe the circumstances of his death, and its investigation by the police.” The article, citing Longmire’s rapport with Bey IV and other Bakery members, accused him of bungling the interview with Broussard which led to his confession by failing to record it, failing to include “tracker” information from Bey’s vehicle in his report, and failing to include in the report potentially incriminating statements made by Bey IV to other Bakery members while they were in custody.
The critical, inflammatory, and entirely misleading front page newspaper article spurred the department management to initiate a formal investigation of Derwin. About the same time, he was transferred from Homicide to Patrol, with department management stating that he had served the maximum amount of 10 years in investigative assignments and was required by Department policy to return to a Patrol assignment.
In the following months, the Chauncey Bailey Project reporters and others following in their tracks continued to snipe at Longmire and his “friendship” with Bey IV, and often rehashed earlier stories which had falsely described Derwin’s efforts to ensure that his friend did not get criminally charged or prosecuted. The Acting Police Chief, who had attended a number of high-level meetings with Lt. Joyner and other law enforcement officers concerning the Bailey murder investigation, had seemingly embraced Derwin’s assigned role until the wave of publicity. Then, he was quoted as saying that “putting Longmire on the Bailey case was a mistake.”
It wasn’t long before Derwin and I talked, shortly after we learned he was under investigation for “compromising” the investigation of the murder of Chauncey Bailey. As we would later discover, the OPD, at first, assigned the IA investigation of this case to one of its Internal Affairs sergeants. After several months of investigative work (which we obtained as part of a Skelly package), I was advised that the OPD was bringing in an “outside” investigator by the name of Wendell (“Pete”) France to conduct the investigation. Thereafter, inexplicably, we were told that the Department was going to use investigators from the State Department of Justice to conduct the internal investigation of Sgt. Longmire’s alleged misconduct.
Eventually, two assigned DOJ investigators contacted me and arranged to interview Lt. Joyner and, thereafter, Sgt. Longmire. Lt. Joyner’s interview lasted a little over three hours, while Sgt. Longmire’s interview lasted approximately six. After the interviews had been completed, I was confident that, despite the continuing attempts of the Bailey Project media mis-representers to tarnish Derwin and his investigation of this murder, the Department would “see the light,” “do the right thing,” and determine that Derwin Longmire had done nothing whatsoever to “compromise” the murder investigation relating to Chauncey Bailey. As it turned out, I was horribly wrong.
Longmire Receives the Notice Recommending His Termination
In a letter dated May 1, 2009, the Police Department’s acting Chief (and its current Chief) proposed to terminate Derwin Longmire for “compromising” the criminal investigation of the Chauncey Bailey murder and for allegedly failing to obey an order of Lt. Joyner to maintain notes of conversations he had with Bey IV.
Shortly before receiving this Notice of Proposed Termination, Sgt. Longmire had been advised that he was the subject of a second investigation initiated by the newly-assigned Homicide Section Lieutenant (Joyner having been transferred to Patrol), alleging a failure to complete certain investigative steps/procedures on several Homicide cases which had been assigned to Derwin before being transferred from the Homicide Section. I had represented Derwin in the interview concerning that complaint, and what became crystal clear during that investigation was the fact that Sgt. Longmire was literally the first OPD Homicide Sergeant who had not been allowed to complete investigative steps on open cases after being reassigned from the Unit to other duties. Some former Homicide investigators had taken up to a year to complete these additional investigative steps on their Homicide cases after being reassigned to other duties, but Sgt. Longmire’s request to complete some of these activities and steps had been denied before he became the subject of the complaint and ensuing investigation.
After receiving the Department’s May 1, 2009 Notice of Intent to Terminate Derwin, I requested and obtained a copy of the Department of Justice Report, together with the Preliminary Investigative Report prepared by the Internal Affairs Sergeant who had initially been assigned to the investigation. Much to my surprise, even the Department’s supposed “outside” investigator, Pete France, had completed a report, which was very cursory, superficial, and appeared to have been largely disregarded by Department management in making the recommendation to terminate Derwin’s employment.
The Flawed and Dishonest Internal Investigation
As I waded through mounds of investigative reports and supporting documents, it became clear to me that the Department’s initial IA investigation, as well as the subsequent DOJ investigation, had largely tracked the irresponsible media claims by the Bailey Project and other “hanger-on” reporters who took great delight in excoriating Derwin directly and the OPD indirectly. Clearly, in my mind, the Acting Chief of Police (current Chief) had succumbed to media pressure in connection with this matter. No sooner had Derwin received the written Notice of Intent to Terminate when he and I began receiving telephone calls from media representatives asking us if we were going to comment on his proposed termination. The trickle of information going through the information sieve created and fueled by OPD management to the media, which we had seen in the past, became an information flood when Derwin Longmire faced termination. The media was reporting information before we heard about it.
As we dug through the various documents which had been provided, we also realized that other things had not been provided – there was an initial interview conducted by an OPD Internal Affairs investigator which would have, in my opinion, demonstrated that the OPD had violated the one-year timeline contained in the Peace Officers Bill of Rights Act to complete its investigation of his case. When I asked that investigator why I had not been provided with the interview of a witness claiming that Derwin and another OPD investigator beat the murder confession out of Devaughndre Broussard, the investigator stated that after the interview was conducted, it had been placed on the Department’s server and that he would obtain it for us. When he accessed the server, it was inexplicably absent/erased. When I requested the Internal Affairs Commander (now Acting Deputy Police Chief) to obtain the interview, it continued to be explicably erased and unavailable. I never got it.
I found out in interviewing an additional witness that he had previously given a taped interview to Pete France and had provided exculpatory information pertaining to Sgt. Longmire. That witness interview was never reported in Mr. France’s written report, nor were we ever provided a tape-recording of the interview. I cried foul and was largely ignored.
The OPD had accused Derwin of cancelling a “want” on another suspect in the Bailey murder (Antoine Mackey), ostensibly to avoid that suspect implicating Bey IV. Yet, the Department had not supplied us with a copy of the “want” which had been issued by a fellow Homicide detective. When we were finally able to obtain the “want” on our own initiative, we determined that the “want” was unrelated to the Bailey murder altogether, but involved another criminal case. The Department had completely misrepresented this allegation as a basis to terminate Longmire.
Notably, the primary allegation against Derwin was “compromising” the murder investigation of Bailey by taking steps to actively avoid implicating Bey IV in the murder. Yet, in an affidavit prepared by Derwin in support of the issuance of a search warrant shortly after the murder, Derwin made the following statements:
“I believe that Broussard killed Mr. Bailey, as he indicated during the interview. I further believe that Yusef Bey IV may be complicit in the killing of Mr. Bailey by utilizing his personal cellular phone listed on the front of this affidavit. I also believe that Yusef Bey IV made attempts to establish plausible deniability by granting television interviews and misleading investigators during criminal interviews. Additionally, I believe that Yusef Bey IV, and Antoine Mackey, and Devaughndre Broussard made an attempt to kill Mr. Bailey on August 1, when the three of them drove around Mr. Bailey’s residence at International Boulevard and First Avenue.”
Significantly, when Lt. Joyner had been interviewed by the Department of Justice investigators concerning this matter, he provided them a tape-recording of a telephone call he had received from Assistant Alameda District Attorney (now Judge) Thomas Rogers. During the telephone call, Mr. Rogers described Sgt. Longmire as being “extremely professional” and stated that Longmire had done a great job in the interview of Broussard and stated that he did not believe that Broussard would have confessed except for the efforts of Longmire. Mr. Rogers was, at that time, a supervisor overseeing the criminal charging of Bey IV and other Black Muslim Bakery members for a variety of criminal offenses that had been committed shortly before the murder of Bailey.
Despite having Mr. Rogers’s recorded voicemail message that Longmire had not “compromised” the murder investigation of Chauncey Bailey, no one from the OPD or from the Department of Justice contacted either Mr. Rogers or Deputy D.A. Chris Lamiero, who was directly assigned to oversee the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for Bailey’s murder.
In preparation for Derwin’s Skelly hearing, our investigator interviewed both Mr. Lamiero and Mr. Rogers, both of whom indicated that Derwin had expressed his beliefs very early in the investigation that Bey IV had ordered Broussard to kill Bailey and had provided them information all along about Bey’s probable involvement in the murder. During his interview, Mr. Rogers stated the following:
“Derwin deserves credit for getting the confession from Broussard. He has not been given credit for obtaining the confession. As it turned out, we used Broussard to charge Bey IV.”
Rogers also stated, when interviewed, that “Derwin was definitely trying to get Bey IV on the Bailey homicide. Longmire believed that Bey IV and Mackey were suspects in the Bailey homicide along with Broussard.” Derwin believed that Bey IV “set up the Bailey homicide even though “the question was trying to prove it.” Rogers insisted that “Derwin did not actively minimize or conceal the potential involvement of Bey IV or the Bakery in the Bailey homicide to prevent Bey from being charged in the murder.”
D.D.A. Lamiero also told our investigator that after speaking to Derwin “very early on” about the murder, that it was “[Longmire’s] opinion that Bey IV gave the order to kill Bailey. Derwin never said he thought Bey was not involved.” As to Derwin’s interview of Broussard which resulted in his confession, Lamiero described it as “a bold decision, the right decision, the right call… It was definitely outside the box thinking.”
The Skelly Hearing
On July 9, 2009, Derwin and I appeared at a Skelly hearing before a Police Captain (now the OPD Assistant Police Chief). We were armed with a 60-page Pre-Disciplinary Response, and a slew of exhibits in a packet almost two inches thick. At the Skellyhearing, not only did we disprove the Police Department’s claim that Longmire had taken measures to avoid implicating Bey IV in the Bailey murder, but we also addressed the “motive” asserted by the Department for Longmire to engage in such unethical behavior. That “motive” was, of course, Longmire’s supposed long-standing friendship with Bey IV and his sympathy for the Bakery and its members.
The (then) acting Police Chief (and now Chief), for instance, claimed in an interview that he had believed that Derwin was, or is, “associated” with the Bakery, citing Longmire’s “visits to the jail” (to see Bey) and “his phone calls to Bey while he’s still in custody.” In fact, Longmire had made only one visit to the jail and had made no phone calls to Bey while he was in custody, even though Bey had called Longmire. The Chief also claimed that Longmire considered himself a “mentor” for Bey IV, stating “that’s what I’ve been told, that’s what’s been told to me by other people that are credible within the organization.” Not a single other employee claimed to have provided that information to the Chief, nor was a source for his belief ever cited.
Next, the Acting Chief claimed that Longmire had approved the Bakery to post his photograph on an internet website of the Bakery. In truth, Longmire had not authorized anyone from the Bakery to put his photograph on the website. Instead, the Bakery had taken a photograph of Longmire which was printed on the front page of the newspaper and put it on the website without asking Longmire or obtaining his permission.
The Acting Chief also claimed that “there’s always been rumors and innuendos about [Longmire’s] association, although not official, with the Bakery.” The Chief further explained that those “rumors and innuendos” resulted because Derwin “wears a bow tie and a suit. As you know, people draw their own inference.” These inferences presumably were based upon the tendency of Bakery members to wear suits and bow ties. As we pointed out, at one point, while assigned to Investigations, Longmire had on occasions worn bow ties instead of regular ties with his suit, as had other Oakland police officers. In fact, as Derwin had explained during his interview with DOJ, he had worn a bow tie on several occasions because he liked the look and was aware it annoyed one old-time detective.
When all was said and done, the most significant “evidence” of Derwin’s “association” with the Bakery came from an officer in the OPD Intelligence Unit who told investigators that he had been investigating the Bakery for over a decade. He claimed that his “specialty” was possessing information concerning the Bakery. Yet, the information he possessed about Derwin’s “association” with the Bakery came down to this:
“…I have some informants that I’ve had in the Bakery and have asked me about [Longmire] by name. I knew previously, when he worked North Oakland Patrol, he and [another OPD officer] worked that North Oakland area and they frequented the Bakery with, you know, buying lunch…”
Thus, not only did the Department’s assertion that Longmire had somehow “compromised” the Bailey murder investigation by failing to implicate Bey IV fizzle and fail, but its effort to ascribe a plausible “motive” for Derwin to engage in such unethical behavior had absolutely no basis in fact, but was rooted in unsubstantiated rumor and innuendo.
The (then) Police Captain who conducted the Skelly hearing listened stoically and paid close attention. I had known him for years and believed that, presented with all of the facts, he would be fair, but at the same time I understood the media attention given to this case and the pressure the Department Command was under from attacks on Derwin by the Bailey Project and other reporters.
After the Skelly hearing concluded, Derwin returned to the paid administrative leave status he had been on since April 13 for roughly six more months. One day, in October 2009, I received a telephone call from the then-Internal Affairs Commander (now Deputy Chief). He advised me during that telephone call that the Department had made the decision to return Derwin to work, but advised me that he needed to be demoted from Sergeant to Officer. I questioned what Derwin had done to warrant a demotion, let alone a suspension in connection with his investigation of the Bailey murder. I never got a clear answer. The IA Commander reminded me that Derwin also had another pending IA investigation for failing to complete steps on some of his other homicide cases. I advised him that Derwin had been singled out for different treatment from any other former homicide investigator who had been transferred from the Unit, and that his failure to complete those steps warranted a written reprimand or at the very most, a day or two on the beach. I told the IA Commander that I would not recommend to Sgt. Longmire that he agree to a demotion, and told him to “take his best shot” or to come back with another proposal.
Over the next several weeks, I engaged in additional phone calls with the IA Commander, who advised me that if Derwin would not take a demotion, the Department needed to suspend him for 90 days. After receiving my vitriolic response, there was another call proposing 60 days, and still another proposing 45 days, although I could never get the Internal Affairs Commander to tell me whether the discipline was being imposed for the Chauncey Bailey murder investigation, or for Derwin’s alleged failure to complete steps on some of his pending homicide investigations.
After a series of contentious discussions, the IA Commander proposed that Derwin be suspended for 5 days for failing to complete the various steps in the homicide investigations, and that none of the discipline would be imposed for his actions in investigating the murder of Chauncey Bailey. When we objected to the 5-day suspension, the Department imposed 20 days, which we promptly appealed, and are waiting for arbitration.
Longmire Sues the Department: Startling Revelations About the Department’s Requested Demotion
Ultimately, Derwin returned to work in Patrol as a Police Sergeant. He filed a civil action against the Department for its handling of his investigation and proposed termination relating to the Chauncey Bailey murder investigation. When his lawyer took the deposition of the former Internal Affairs Commander who had tried to negotiate Derwin’s initial demotion and several lengthy suspensions, the IA Commander provided a couple of startling revelations in his sworn deposition testimony.
First, he said that before the Acting Chief proposed to terminate Derwin, the IA Commander told him that the findings which had been sustained by DOJ did not appear to him to be well supported by any documentation. The Chief proposed termination anyway.
Second, he testified that soon after our July 9, 2009 Skelly hearing with the Police Captain, the Captain had determined that all of the allegations against Derwin in connection with the Chauncey Bailey murder investigation were not sustained and could not form the basis of any disciplinary action whatsoever. The Captain (now Assistant Chief) had apparently convinced the Acting Chief (now Chief) to “not sustain” the case against Derwin for compromising the investigation of the murder investigation of Chauncey Bailey. Despite this, the Acting Chief had told the Internal Affairs Commander to telephone me and convince me to agree to demote Derwin from Sergeant to Officer but to avoid telling me that the Department had “not sustained” the allegations in connection with the Bailey murder investigation.
Clearly, the Department management was hoping that I would agree to a substantial disciplinary penalty for Derwin (demotion, 90-day suspension, etc.) which would probably be leaked to the press as if to say that the Department had determined (much like the Chauncey Bailey Project and the other reprehensible reporters who followed its misleading lead) that Longmire had engaged in serious misconduct in connection with the Bailey investigation, even though it had backed off its proposed termination. By doing this, the Department would not have to face the prospect of explaining why it had retreated from a proposed termination to no disciplinary action whatsoever to the highly interested media members to whom information had been freely leaked when Longmire was facing termination.
The Trial of Bey IV and Broussard for Bailey’s Murder
Bey IV was ultimately charged with the murder of Chauncey Bailey, and Devaughndre Broussard, who confessed his involvement in the murder to Derwin Longmire, became the prosecution’s star witness. Derwin also testified at the trial on behalf of the prosecution, and there was not even the slightest suggestion by a prosecution or defense lawyer in the trial that Longmire’s investigation had been faulty, or that he had a relationship with Bey IV other than that of investigating officer and suspect. The jury quickly convicted Bey of Bailey’s murder.
In 2003, when the prosecution was completing its case in chief in the first trial of three officers who were called the “Oakland Riders,” the City of Oakland and plaintiff’s lawyers settled a civil suit filed against the officers and department. The settlement was embodied in a document which has come to be known as the “Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA).” The NSA had a number of objectives, one of which was to improve the objectivity and integrity of Internal Affairs investigations and decision making by Department management on disciplinary matters. In this case, four years after agreeing to improving disciplinary investigations, the Department demonstrated a complete indifference to objectivity and an arrogant refusal to tell the truth – to the public, and to Derwin Longmire. It concealed evidence, it withheld exculpatory information, and it actively misrepresented facts in an effort to destroy Derwin Longmire’s career.
The sad saga of the Oakland Police Department’s attempt to end the stellar career of Derwin Longmire is both a massive failure of objectivity and integrity and an undeniable demonstration that placating irresponsible and misleading media reporting became more important than a spirited and factual defense of an incredibly gifted and committed Homicide Investigator.