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Lack of police transparency in Chauncey Bailey case hindered freedom of information, says RSF

***Editor's note: In the 15 June 2011 issue of the IFEX Communiqué, it was reported that Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey were convicted of first-degree murder for the killing of Chauncey Bailey. The following is RSF's analysis of the conduct of the Oakland Police Department and its effect on freedom of information.***

(RSF/IFEX) - August 1, 2011 - With the upcoming 4th anniversary commemorating the death of Chauncey Bailey, the first American journalist killed on U.S. soil in 30 years, and after examining the release of more than 1,000 pages of sworn statements from top commanders of the Oakland Police Department, released by KTVU on July 10th, Reporters Without Borders is asking the Oakland Police Department to apologize for its opacity throughout the investigation and acknowledge that it harmed freedom of information and the public interest in this case.

SELECTIVE CENSORSHIP

Two years ago, Oakland Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan imposed a gag order on Sgt. Derwin Longmire, the lead detective in the Chauncey Bailey assassination, along with the rest of the department. This move prohibited them from discussing the case until it was over, and reporters were barred from interviewing Longmire and others about the case of their murdered colleague. Sgt Longmire accepted the chance to speak to KTVU in an interview released on July 10th, 2011 (http://www.ktvu.com/specialreports/28505516/detail.html).

As it was leaked to the press at the time, the department looked into allegations that Sgt. Longmire had become far too close to the Your Black Muslim Bakery - the criminal business Bailey was investigating and headed by accused assassination mastermind Yusef Bey IV - and didn't tell his boss or colleagues what he was doing. The documents however, contain sworn testimony from Longmire's immediate supervisor saying he had ordered Sgt. Longmire to take those actions and that the district attorney also knew - and approved - of them. Additionally, Deputy Chief Jeff Israel, also in the sworn testimony, attested to the quality and approval of Sgt. Longmire's work.

(. . .)

"The documents make it obvious that the police manipulated the information toward the media and designated Sgt. Longmire as a scapegoat for their misbehavior. The Oakland Police Department should apologize to him and the American citizens for not being transparent, covering up the case, forbidding reporters to access the truth and deluding them during the whole investigation," declared Jean-Francois Julliard, Reporters Without Borders' Secretary-General.

According to the documents, Sgt. Longmire warned the police command staff that the bakery was a "criminal enterprise", as early as 2002 -- five years before Bailey was shot in cold blood on a downtown Oakland street. But no serious, sustained action was taken on those repeated warnings until it was too late for Chauncey Bailey. Citing orders from the top brass to undertake "community policing" and keeping tabs on the bakery, Sgt. Longmire explained why he had such contact with Bey and his associates.

Although those same bosses imposed a gag order on Sgt. Longmire, preventing him or others from telling the other side of the story, news outlets acquired confidential police information from his critics at the time, reporting that Sgt. Longmire had been found guilty of misconduct and had been fired (http://www.policeone.com/investigations/articles/1810594-Calif-police-investigator-accused-of-misconduct/).

(. . .)

Click here to read the full statement, including excerpts from the sworn testimony
For further information on the June convictions
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Related stories on ifex.org
  • Justice served in Chauncey Bailey case thanks to journalist collective

    Four years ago, U.S. journalist Chauncey Bailey was gunned down on his way to work. Within weeks, local journalists, including a representative from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), came together as the Chauncey Bailey Project to finish his work looking at criminal activity at a local bakery and to investigate his death. On 9 June, victory finally came: the manager and employee of the business were convicted of first-degree murder, report CPJ and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).



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