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New investigation into Chauncey Bailey murder to take place

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 4 November 2008 CPJ press release:

Bailey slaying to be investigated anew

New York, November 4, 2008 - The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the decision by California authorities to undertake additional investigations into the August 2007 murder of U.S. editor Chauncey Bailey.

The move follows a lengthy report by a consortium of San Francisco Bay-area news organizations and journalists known as the Chauncey Bailey Project. In an October 25 report, the group outlined alleged police irregularities in the investigation; other questions were raised earlier this year by the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

The alleged irregularities include a failure to pursue evidence that the murder was the product of a conspiracy. To date, one suspect has been charged in the crime. In a lengthy statement released on Saturday in response to the Chauncey Bailey Project report, Oakland police said the investigation has been handled appropriately. But the statement, authorized by Assistant Chief Howard Jordan, confirms several facts reported by the Chauncey Bailey Project.

The Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff told journalists last week that he would take the unusual step of assigning his own investigators to examine the case. On Thursday, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums asked California Attorney General Jerry Brown to open another investigation into the murder. "It is imperative that an investigative agency outside the city also conduct an investigation," he wrote in an October 30 letter to Brown. Dellums told journalists he was making the request in response to the report by the Chauncey Bailey Project.

"We welcome the additional investigations into the slaying of our colleague Chauncey Bailey," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The report put together by Bay-area journalists raises a number of very important and troubling questions that must be resolved."

Bailey was killed three blocks from his office by a masked person firing a shotgun. At the time, the journalist was investigating the financial dealings of Your Black Muslim Bakery, a local business that was associated with criminal activities, according to one of his sources, Saleem Bey, who later appeared on "60 Minutes." Witnesses said they saw a driver waiting in a white getaway van at the time of the murder, according to the Chauncey Bailey Project.

Hours after the shooting, police analyzing shotgun shells found at the scene discovered the same weapon was suspected in a separate shooting linked to the bakery, according to the Chauncey Bailey Project. Oakland police confirmed in their statement Saturday that bakery associates were considered murder suspects within 24 hours of Bailey's slaying. Early on the morning after the killing, Oakland police raided the bakery and made several arrests on unrelated charges involving the kidnapping and torture of two women. Detectives began to question those suspects about the Bailey murder.

The lead detective, Sgt. Derwin Longmire, has had a long association with the proprietor of the bakery, Yusuf Bey IV, who is indicted on a series of unrelated felony charges. Assistant Chief Jordan told Anderson Cooper of "60 Minutes" in February that he was aware of Sgt. Longmire's longtime relationship with the suspect Yusuf Bey IV. Jordan said it was "unusual, but not unethical" for the sergeant to be assigned to the murder case.

Longmire did not respond to requests for an interview, according to the Chauncey Bailey Project. He did not immediately return a message left by CPJ seeking comment. The Oakland Police Department statement defended Longmire's handling of the case, saying that he properly pursued evidence and leads.

For the full text of the press release, see: http://cpj.org/2008/11/bailey-slaying-to-be-investigated-anew.php

Updates the Bailey case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97996

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