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Questions Persist in Slaying of Oakland Editor

POSTED: 03:04 PM ET, 11/10/2008 by Derek Kravitz

The motto of an unusual collection of investigative journalists probing the death of one of their own: "You can't kill a story by killing a journalist."

Chauncey Bailey, the editor of the weekly Oakland Post, was gunned down Aug. 2, 2007, while looking into an Oakland business, Your Black Muslim Bakery, a politically active Muslim eatery that had opened in 1968. The former Detroit News and Oakland Tribune reporter was slain while walking to work, by a man wearing all black clothing and carrying a Mossberg shotgun.

Devaughndre Broussard, a 19-year-old handyman for the bakery, has confessed to the crime, police say, but many questions remain about the case. Broussard's lawyer has said the confession was coerced.

Before Bailey's death, police had been building a case against the bakery's former leader, Yusuf Bey IV, and several followers in connection with the alleged kidnapping of two women and the torture of one of them in May 2007, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

But Broussard has been the only person charged in connection with the death of the 57-year-old Bailey, angering many of the journalist's colleagues who say the evidence points to a larger conspiracy.

Bailey's killing was the highest-profile slaying of an American journalist since the 1976 car-bombing death of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles, which sparked the creation of the Columbia, Mo.,-based Investigative Reporters and Editors. After Bailey's death, New America Media and the Maynard Institute brought together more than two dozen journalists from the Bay Area to form an investigative team, dubbed the Chauncey Bailey Project.

In June, the group obtained a secretly-recorded police videotape showing Bey telling investigators that he had kept the gun used to kill Bailey in his closet after the attack and bragged of playing "hella dumb" when investigators asked him about the shooting.

"He describes Bailey's shooting in detail on the video, then laughingly denies he was there, and boasts that his friendship with the case's lead detective protected him from charges," the project reported. (Bey's father, who ran the bakery before his namesake, was arrested in 2002 on 27 counts of abusing and raping 12- and 13-year-old girls. He was accused of fathering children by them, and of stealing their welfare payments, but died of cancer before a trial could begin.) The younger Bey has had numerous run-ins with the law, including for alleged vandalism and assault.

Last month, the Bailey Project alleged that the lead detective on the Bailey case, Sgt. Derwin Longmire, ignored key evidence about Bey's possible connections to the killing and two other unrelated felony cases.

The Chronicle reported last year that Longmire had a "long-standing relationship" with Bey and that Bey helped secure a confession from Broussard after the "investigator left the two men alone in a room for a conversation that was not recorded," The Chronicle reported.

Oakland police have vigorously denied the reports. Mayor Ron Dellums has called for state Attorney General Jerry Brown's office to investigate the police department's handling of the Bailey case.

By Derek Kravitz |  November 10, 2008; 3:04 PM ET
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