By Thomas Peele
In early May, a cable television show, Sins and Secrets, which is shown on a channel called Investigation Discovery, featured an hour-long episode on the murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey.
Entitled “Bleed All About It,” the segment tracked Bailey’s shooting death by a young member of Your Black Muslim Bakery, who had been ordered to gun down the newspaper editor to stop him from publishing a story about the bakery’s leader, Yusuf Bey IV.
The show contained numerous factual errors despite interviews with two reporters on the Chauncey Bailey Project, the prosecutor who eventually won a conviction in the case, and others. In order to reiterate the accurate account of Bailey’s murder and its lengthy aftermath established by the Chauncey Bailey Project, here are some of the errors in the Sins and Secret’s episode followed by the actual facts surrounding each event. They had my book and hours of my time, yet got nearly everything wrong. I have asked to have interviews me removed from the show.
Sins and Secrets: Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV was the grandson of bakery founder Yusuf Bey.
Fact: Bey IV was Bey’s son.
Sins and Secrets: Bailey’s murder was significant on a “global scale.”
Fact: Bailey’s murder, unfortunately, didn’t garner much national attention, let alone international attention. There was little media coverage of it outside of Northern California.
Sins and Secrets: Bailey was found in a pool of blood on an Oakland sidewalk, his white dress shirt stained with blood.
Fact: Bailey likely died almost instantly from a shotgun slug that ripped across his chest, shredding the tops of his lungs. The murder scene, dozens of photos show, was remarkable for a lack of blood on and around the body because Bailey’s heart had stopped beating almost immediately. There was no blood on the blue shirt he wore.
Sins and Secrets: Bailey’s death actually removed “two of Oakland’s most beloved residents” from the city – Bailey and the mastermind of his killing, Yusuf Bey IV.
Fact: While Bailey had once been a prominent reporter at the Oakland Tribune it is difficult to imagine him as beloved beyond his family and close friends. There is no record of Bey IV being beloved by a wide range of Oaklanders. Many who lived near the bakery feared him and in his short time as the bakery’s leader, police had come to consider him an infamous criminal and gang leader.
Sins and Secrets: Bailey had worked at a number of prominent newspapers across the United States.
Fact: Bailey had worked briefly for the Hartford Courant and the Detroit News for several years.
Sins and Secret: One of Oakland’s biggest employers was the “Oakland Shipyard.”
Fact: There is no such place. The nearest major shipyard to Oakland was the now closed Hunters’s Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco. The show may have been referring to the Port of Oakland, a marine shipping terminal.
Sins and Secrets: Police initially thought Bailey’s murder was gang related.
Fact: There is no documented evidence that such consideration was given.
Sins and Secrets: Police ruled out robbery as a motive for the shooting death after finding Bailey’s wallet filled with cash.
Fact: According to an Alameda County Coroner’s Office receipt for Bailey’s belongings, his wallet contained no cash. He was found to be carrying a few coins.
Sins and Secrets: Bailey was the son of a factory worker.
Fact: Bailey’s father, Chauncey Wendell Bailey St. was a postal worker who lives in Nebraska.
Sins and Secrets: Bailey’s killer, Devaughndre Broussard, was seen “hanging out” in front of Bailey’s Lake Merritt apartment building the morning of the murder.
Fact: One witness saw Broussard running from the scene after apparently missing Bailey as he left the building. Broussard had hidden across the street from the building in a failed attempt to ambush Bailey as he left for work.
Sins and Secrets: Bailey left his job at the Oakland Tribune because of “squabbles” with management.
Fact: Bailey was fired for ethical lapses. He used newspaper letterhead to write a threatening letter to the Department of Motor Vehicles about a personal matter and also wrote a feature story about a business owned by a woman he was dating without disclosing the relationship.
Sins and Secrets: Yusuf Bey IV was “one of the most powerful men in the city” and “a prominent businessman.”
Fact: Bey IV, then 21, was far from powerful or prominent. He steered the bakery into bankruptcy and committed numerous crimes. He had no power or influence beyond his small band of followers.
Sins and Secrets: Police interviewed several of Bailey’s “lady friends, many of whom had boyfriends or even husbands” as possible suspects. All “had solid alibis for themselves and their boyfriends” and were able to rule out on the day of the murder a “love triangle” as a motive.
Fact: No such interviews took place the day of the murder. Police interviewed one woman who was living with Bailey at the time he was killed. Within a few hours of Bailey’s death police were concentrating all their efforts on a link between the murder and Your Black Muslim Bakery.
Sins and Secrets: Police were stymied for a motive and had to “circle back to eyewitnesses at the (murder) scene” to try and figure out what happened.
Fact: Police had tied Your Black Muslim Bakery to the murder within four and a half hours of Bailey’s death.
Sins and Secrets: The shotgun that Devaughndre Broussard used to kill Bailey had also been used in a “rash of (other) crimes” and bakery members had committed numerous “shotgun crimes.”
Fact: The shotgun was used in one other crime, the 2006 shooting of an unoccupied car.
Sins and Secrets: In order to identify the murder weapon, police interviewed witnesses who had seen it used in other crimes.
Fact: There is no documented evidence of any such interviews or any record of the gun’s use in other crimes except the car shooting. Police quickly seized the theory that the shotgun was owned by someone at the bakery when Oakland Post editor Paul Cobb told then Police Chief Wayne Tucker that Bailey was working on a story about the bakery. At 12:40 p.m. on the day of the murder, homicide Lt. Ersie Joyner ordered ballistic comparisons between shells found at the murder scene and shells found at the earlier car shooting, documents show. Police did not link the shotgun to the bakery by analyzing witness statements and evidence from a “rash of shotgun crimes.”
Sins and Secrets: Investigators were “skeptical” that bakery members were responsible for Bailey’s murder because the business and religious order behind it were “pillars of the black community.” The FBI had to tell Oakland Police that bakery members were “bad guys.”
Fact: As soon as Cobb said Bailey was writing a story about the bakery, police investigated that angle aggressively. Police had been investigating Bey IV since May 2007 for kidnapping and torture. In the month before Bailey’s slaying, two other men, Odell Roberson and Michael Wills, were shot dead near the bakery and police believed bakery members were responsible. A massive raid of the bakery compound was scheduled for Aug. 1, 2012 – the day before Bailey’s murder. But Tucker ordered it delayed for 48 hours because two of his senior commanders were on vacation. As far as the bakery being a pillar of community, the organization had long been discredited. Its founder, Yusuf Bey, died in 2003 while facing charges based on conclusive DNA evidence that he had raped girls as young as 13 years old and fathered children by them.
Sins and Secrets: The Aug. 3, 2007, raid on the bakery, about 21 hours after Bailey’s murder, was in direct response to the journalist’s slaying.
Fact: The raid had been planned for weeks in response to other crimes.
Sins and Secrets: As police raided a bakery building where he lived, Broussard threw the murder weapon out a second floor window. Once found on the ground, the recovery of the weapon was led by homicide Sgt. Derwin Longmire.
Fact: The shotgun was thrown out of a first floor window. Longmire was not at the scene.
Sins and Secrets: Broussard had a “lengthy criminal history” and had just been hired at the bakery.
Fact: Broussard, then 19, had one assault conviction on his record and had been arrested as a juvenile for theft. He had worked at the bakery on and off for a year.
Sins and Secrets: It was only after Broussard gave a partial confession, saying that he acted alone in the murder, that Cobb told police that Bailey was working on a story about the bakery.
Fact: A few hours after the murder Cobb told police what Bailey was writing.
Sins and Secrets: Bailey’s unpublished story was “a Watergate style expose” about the bakery because he’d “gotten wind of some of the shotgun crimes perpetrated by bakery employees” and discovered “organized crime” within the organization.
Fact: Bailey was writing about the bakery’s bankruptcy filing, which had occurred a year earlier. He had filed a story of about 500 words based on information given to him by Saleem Bey, who was Bey IV’s estranged brother-in-law. The story lacked attribution, a reason Cobb has claimed it was not published. Two members of the Chauncey Bailey Project were allowed to read – but not copy – the unpublished story at the office of the Oakland Post in early 2008.
Sins and Secrets – It was after Cobb informed detectives that Bailey was writing an expose that police figured out that bakery members were responsible for numerous other crimes.
Fact: Police had been investigating those other crimes – kidnapping and torture, murder, and financial fraud – for months and in some cases, years.
Sins and Secrets: Authorities planned to charge Bey IV with ordering Bailey’s murder by waiting for Broussard to admit he was ordered to commit the slaying.
Fact: Authorities were content to seek Bey IV’s conviction on kidnapping and rape charges – which carried a life term in prison without parole – and not pursue him for Bailey’s murder. In a deposition given in a civil lawsuit, Thomas Rogers, a former top prosecutor in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, testified that authorities saw no need to investigate Bailey’s murder beyond Broussard’s involvement because Bey IV would likely already spend the rest of his life in prison on the other charges. It was because of media exposure brought by The Chauncey Bailey Project showing Bey IV’s involvement in the killing that then District Attorney Tom Orloff ordered further investigation of Bey IV’s role, Rogers testified. Rogers is now a Superior Court judge.
Sins and Secrets – An unpaid $1 million business development loan from the city of Oakland was given to the bakery during Bey IV’s brief tenure as bakery leader between October 2005 and August 2007.
Fact: The loan was given in the late 1990s.
Sins and Secrets: Surveillance video that showed Bey IV leading a group of men in the ransacking of an Oakland liquor store in 2005 was “the trump card” that led to Bey IV’s (and accomplice Antoine Mackey’s) convictions for Bailey’s murder.
Fact: The video had little to do with the murder conviction. It was only played for jurors on the legal theory that it showed others in the bakery organization followed Bey IV’s orders.
Sins and Secrets: The video showed the gun eventually used to kill Bailey being stolen from a store clerk.
Fact: The gun was stolen from a different liquor store.
Sins and Secrets: Bakery founder Yusuf Bey was charged with rape and other crimes after Yusuf Bey IV was convicted of ordering Bailey’s murder in 2011.
Fact: Yusuf Bey died in 2003.
Thomas Peele was a lead investigative reporter for the Chauncey Bailey Project and author of Killing the Messenger, A Story of Radical Faith, Racism’s Backlash and the Assassination of a Journalistpublished in 2012 by Random House. Reach him at Thomaspeeele@thomaspeele.com. Follow him at twitter.com/thomas_peele.