Bailey Project is shaking up
The project's new evidence has further compelled the Oakland Police Department and Assistant Chief Howard Jordan, who has long denied police misconduct in the case to various San Francisco Bay-area news outlets as well as to CBS News' "60 Minutes," to take the unusual step this month of issuing a lengthy, two-page statement. Titled "Oakland Police Department's Response to the Chauncey Bailey Project," the November 1 release defends various actions by police, as well as the detective leading the investigation. Although the police department's Web site regularly posts press releases it has not posted this one; CPJ is making the statement available here. The release, while maintaining that the police had acted properly, also confirms several pieces of evidence announced on October 25 by the project. The statement further sheds light on a conflict of interest first reported earlier this year by "60 Minutes."
The founding members of the project met in one of
His colleagues, many of whom were still grieving, shared one
Mandarin dish after another as they organized a project that would monitor the
Chauncey Bailey was the first journalist murdered
in the United States in 14 years. He was a dynamic journalist who reported for African-American and other minority
communities. The investigative project launched in his name was soon funded by
the Maynard Institute, Knight Foundation, National Association of Black Journalists,
Society of Professional Journalists, and the Newspaper Guild, among others. It was further
supported by Investigate Reporters and Editors,
whose own experience reporting in the footsteps of a slain journalist in
The Chauncey Bailey Project began uncovering irregularities
in the Oakland Police Department's
the start, asking why only one suspect was charged as an alleged lone
gunman when evidence points to a wider conspiracy. By the following summer, American Journalism Review's Sherry Ricchiardi called the
project "the biggest journalistic show of force since 1976, when [IRE
co-founding member] reporter Don Bolles' car was blown up by a bomb while he
was investigating organized crime in
Crimes including vandalism, extortion, fraud, car theft,
kidnapping, torture, sexual abuse of minors, and murder have been linked
through felony convictions, charges, and press
reports to the proprietors and employees of Your Black Muslim Bakery, the
local business whose finances Chauncey Bailey was investigating when he was
"Within the first 24 hours of our investigation, it became
apparent that members of Your Black Muslim Bakery, including [the current
proprietor] Yusuf Bey IV, were involved in the murder," reads the November 1
Police later charged one man arrested at the bakery, kitchen helper Devaughndre Broussard, known to others as "Dre," in Bailey's murder. Accused by police of being a lone gunman, according to news reports, Broussard remains the only suspect charged.
For reasons that Assistant Chief Jordan described to Anderson Cooper of "60 Minutes" as being "unusual, but not unethical," the Oakland police assigned a detective, Sgt. Derwin Longmire, to investigate the Bailey murder, even though the same police detective had a longstanding personal relationship with the bakery proprietor, Bey. By then, Bey was wanted on various felony charges in addition to being a suspect in Bailey's murder. He has been incarcerated since the bakery raid awaiting trial, and from jail he recently admitted but qualified his relationship with Longmire.
"Longmire and I have no special relationship, we respect each other as brothers," Bey wrote in August 2008 from prison in a blog called "Sgt. Longmire - Inside Connection or Mutual Respect?" on a Web site that his followers started to proclaim his innocence and that of other bakery associates, including his brother, who is awaiting trial on various charges. Bey has also denied any role in Bailey's murder.
Earlier this year, "60 Minutes" revealed that Longmire took the unorthodox step of placing suspects Bey and Broussard together in an interrogation room hours after they were both arrested. Police failed to record their conversation. Broussard told "60 Minutes" that Bey had ordered him to confess in the interrogation room, which Broussard did immediately after their conversation. He later recanted his confession, and told Cooper that he would reveal who killed Bailey at his own trial.
But the most shocking piece of evidence that police have yet to fully explain is a video secretly filmed by San Leandro police just four days after Bailey's murder. In the video, which includes a police imprint, date, and time, Bey is heard telling his brother and another bakery associate about the Bailey murder. The video was obtained by the project and posted online. It has also been reported or aired by various Bay-area broadcasters.
In the video, Bey says he put the gun used to kill Bailey in his closet after the shooting. He mocks the fatal blast to the journalist's head He boasts that Longmire was protecting him from being charged, and that together he and Longmire decided to blame Broussard alone for the murder. Bey later said in an interview, according to the Chauncey Bailey Project, that he made up stories to mislead police in the interrogation room conversation captured on video.
The project also recently reported that other police detectives investigating crimes prior to Bailey's murder had placed a tracking device on Bey's car, and that the device placed the car outside Bailey's apartment building the night before his murder. The November 1 Oakland police statement confirmed for the first time that the tracking device was indeed in place on Bey's car before the murder, and that police consider the data it revealed to be evidence.
The Chauncey Bailey Project also obtained Bey's cell phone records, reporting that they show that Bey made a series of calls to his bakery associates and others within minutes of Bailey's murder. The recent police statement in response confirmed that Bey's cell phone records are also considered to be evidence in the murder.
Concerning the secretly recorded police video in which Bey seems to implicate himself, Alameda District Attorney Tom Orloff told San Francisco Bar Association journal The Recorder in July that the video would at best implicate Bey as an accessory to the crime after the fact, and that there wasn't enough evidence to bring charges against him. This week, however, Orloff confirmed to the project that his office was opening an independent investigation into the murder.
Orloff did not return CPJ's repeated calls asking for
comment. The recent police department statement defends police conduct in the
case and the investigation led by Longmire.
Last week, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums asked California
Attorney General Jerry Brown to open another independent investigation. "It is
imperative that an investigative agency outside the city also conduct an
wrote to Brown, his predecessor as
In all the smoke still surrounding the shotgun blasts that killed Bailey in the street more than a year ago, one thing emerges clearly: The colleagues who formed a project in his name have shined a light on a hazy police investigation, and they are not about to go away.