By Laurel Spear
OAKLAND, CA— On Thurs. Feb 23, just over a week after he was fired from his job as Oakland Police Chief, LeRonne Armstrong began the formal appeal process to re-evaluate his dismissal. Last Wednesday, Armstrong was fired by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao after being placed on administrative leave for almost a month. This was due to his mismanagement of an internal affairs investigation after two alleged infractions by a police sergeant.
The said police sergeant, Sergeant Michael Chung, was involved in a car crash including a parked vehicle in 2021 in which he allegedly left the scene of the crash. In a separate incident the next year, Chung allegedly discharged his firearm in the police headquarters’ elevator, and did not report the incident until a week later.
A January 2023 independent probe of the Oakland Police Department found that Chung had attempted to cover up both incidents. The probe report alleged that without reading it, Armstrong had signed off on an internal investigation of the 2021 incident that stated no department rules had been broken by Chung. Because Armstrong signed off on the investigation, Chung was not adequately disciplined after the hit-and-run, prompting Armstrong’s dismissal.
In a countering statement, Armstrong said mayor Thao “accepted the Monitor’s conclusions at face value without weighing the evidence and without asking the hard questions that needed to be asked about the holes in those reports. And she put the City on a path to accepting invalid criticism that could justify more oversight, more checks paid to [the Monitor] Robert Warshaw, and instability in a critical public safety role during a time of real public safety problems in Oakland.”
According to his CA Cities biography, “Armstrong is one of the original officers assigned to work on the Oakland Ceasefire Strategy which has reduced violent crime over 50% since 2012.” He also spearheads the Oakland Police Department Stop-Data Collection Project which has led to overall OPD stops decreasing by 60% since 2016, and stops of African American residents by over 50%.
Due to the important changes Armstrong has enacted for the Oakland community, specifically African American residents, the Oakland chapter of the NAACP rallied dozens of Armstrong supporters at City Hall on Monday, Feb. 20 in the wake of his dismissal. “She did a modern day lynch” president of Oakland NAACP Cynthia Adams told reporters, referring to mayor Thao and her decision to fire Armstrong.
The Oakland NAACP reported the mayor allegedly said she would meet with the organization before choosing whether to fire the chief, but they said she did not follow through with the meeting.
According to Sam Singer, Armstrong’s communications consultant, on Feb. 23, just over a week after the firing, Armstrong officially initiated the administrative appeal process to challenge his dismissal. The appeal process includes a review of Armstrong’s case by a hearing officer who will then make a recommendation to the city about whether to uphold the firing.
There has been no additional statement from Armstrong or Thao since the appeal process began.
Laurel is currently a junior at UC Berkeley studying Political Science with an emphasis on International Relations. She is from Los Angeles and outside of school, she enjoys cooking, snowboarding, painting, and going to concerts.