Explaining The Chauncey Bailey Murder Case, From the Beginning
Closing arguments are over in the Chauncey Bailey murder trial in Oakland, and the fate of defendants Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey are now in the jury’s hands.
The slaying of Bailey, who was the editor-in-chief of The Oakland Post, and the arrest and trial of Bey and Mackey for his murder present a complicated tangle of events for anyone trying to catch up and make sense of the story. So we went back to basics with journalist Thomas Peele of The Chauncey Bailey Project, a coalition of local journalists who came together to investigate Bailey’s killing and to continue his work. (A look at the project’s Key Players in the Chauncey Bailey slaying will also help you get your bearings.)
In interviews with KQED’s Erika Kelly and with me, Peele answered some fundamental questions about the case. Bailey was killed in 2007 while reportedly working on a story about the alleged criminal activities of the organization that ran the Your Black Muslim Bakeries, a local chain of bakeries promoted by owner Yusuf Bey as a model of economic self-reliance in the African-American community.
Police arrested Devaughndre Broussard, a former bakery worker, for murdering Bailey with a shotgun in downtown Oakland. Broussard initially confessed, saying that he’d acted alone, only to later recant and claim he and bakery associate Antoine Mackey had been ordered to kill Bailey at the behest of Yusuf Bey IV, the son of the late Yusuf Bey.
Bey IV and Mackey are also charged in the killings of Odell Roberson Jr. and Michael Wills.
Prosecutors will tell you (Your Black Muslim Bakery) was a criminal enterprise…
- Bailey was the editor of the Oakland Post, a small paper covering Oakland’s African-American community.
- Bailey was covering crimes committed by the Your Black Muslim Bakery organization, which at one time was held up as a model of black economic self-reliance.
Sometimes you have to make a deal with a demon to get the Devil.
- The prosecution built much of its case on the testimony of Devaughndre Broussard, a former bakery worker who fingered Bey IV and Mackey after recanting testimony that he, Broussard,acted alone.
- The defense characterized Broussard as a liar whose statements cannot be trusted.
- Some lawyers have described Broussard as a “bizarre witness.”
- Other evidence against Bey IV besides Broussard’s testimony exists, including video of him laughing at Bailey’s murder and statements Bey IV made.
Two senior SWAT commanders were on a camping trip and the police brass decided to wait two days. The next morning Chauncey Bailey was killed.
- Before Bailey was killed, police had planned to raid the bakery based on suspicion of participation in two other murders and a kidnapping/torture case.
- The raid was delayed two days because two senior SWAT members were a camping trip. Bailey was killed in the interim.
- Police wouldn’t acknowledge that the raid had been delayed until it was reported.
The detectives leave the room and don’t leave any recording devices. They come back, Bey IV leaves, and then Broussard confesses he acted alone.
- Bey IV, who was arrested on other charges, said Broussard had claimed he killed Bailey alone. Broussard denied it.
- Police brought Bey IV in to talk to Broussard but did not record the conversation between them.
- When police came back, Broussard confessed that he’d acted alone.
- Broussard now says that Bey IV, his spiritual leader, ordered him to take the fall alone for the killing.
Chauncey Bailey’s career was in a downward pattern.
- There’s precedent for journalists coming together to finish a slain reporter’s work.
- Bailey had covered for the Oakland Tribune child molestation charges against bakery founder Yusuf Bey. According to Broussard, Bey IV hated Bailey for that and blamed him for his father’s death.
- The Chauncey Bailey Project formed with the idea that if there was ever a moment of solidarity among journalists called for, it’s when a reporter has been assassinated.
The history of Yusuf Bey, and the Black Muslim Bakery