News Reports Claims Top Oakland Police Officers Face Discipline after Failed Probe

Oakland Police officer (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By The Vanguard Staff

OAKLAND, CA – At least two top Oakland police officers have been given notices of intent to terminate, according to the Bay Area News Group in a report quoting anonymous sources late Wednesday.

The BANG report said the officers are “facing serious discipline for alleged misconduct related to an internal investigation of a detective accused of bribing a confidential witness in a murder case, and later lying about it.”

The OPD officers targeted are Deputy Chief Drennon Lindsey—the wife of former OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong, and Sgt. Mega Lee, lead internal affairs investigator, said BANG.

The news outlet added, “Capt. Kevin Kaney faces a lengthy suspension, while Lt. Hamann Nguyen could end up demoted…(the) four officers have the right to appeal the proposed discipline, and to appear before a hearing officer at what is known as a Skelly hearing.”

Bay Area News Group said the actions may be a result of an “investigation outside of the Oakland Police Department,” and may be connected to the criminal case against Phong Tran, the OPD homicide detective with an upcoming trial for perjury and bribing a witness, allegedly setting up two men for murder later freed.   

BANG said, “The DA’s office and others are reviewing more cases involving Tran – which total in the dozens, if not hundreds – and it is possible that other officers may face internal discipline. Tran, who remains on leave, has pleaded not guilty.”

Independent investigative reporter and author Ali Winston wrote last month senior OPD officials “pushed back on the district attorney’s admonitions about the problems with Tran’s work” in a murder case and soft-pedaled the internal affairs investigation.

In a statement from a spokesperson for former Chief Armstrong, Sam Singer said the former chief has “no access to the details of the outside investigation,” but is “aware from his involvement in the outside investigation that actions taken by the city of Oakland in connection with it raise serious questions about whether the investigation violated Oakland policies and state laws.”

BANG said, “It is rare, although not unheard of, in Oakland for deputy chiefs — a small group of commanders just below the chief and assistant chief — to face termination or discipline. In previous cases, deputy chiefs have opted for retirement instead of fighting through the appeal process.”

The news group reported the probe “has been kept heavily under wraps, with several high-level officials, including City Administrator Jestin Johnson, saying they had heard nothing about it even as rumors began surfacing.”

BANG also reported Wednesday that prominent civil rights lawyer Jim Chanin “had not heard the news and was frustrated to learn that Lindsey might be up for termination. He said none of the officials on a federal monitoring team that oversees OPD were informed of the investigation, and neither was the civilian-led police commission.”

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