A week into his suspension for allegedly mishandling internal discipline, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong is mounting an aggressive PR campaign to get his job back, with the Oakland NAACP and several community figures rallied for him Tuesday outside an Oakland courthouse.
The palace intrigue atop the Oakland Police Department suddenly got thick with last Thursday’s dramatic, unexpected announcement that Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong was being placed on paid administrative leave over allegedly lax discipline in two officer cases, both involving the same unnamed OPD sergeant. Armstrong did not take this lying down, holding a press conference Monday morning where he was flanked by his freshly retained attorney and declared “I did nothing wrong; I violated no policies,” and “I deserve to be reinstated.”
The press conference was held at the offices of Sam Singer, described by the Bay Area News Group as “crisis consultant Sam Singer, well-known in the Bay Area for his representation of public figures and corporations embroiled in controversy.” And while Chief Armstrong chose his words carefully, also speaking was Oakland District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo, who had choice words for the Oakland’s federal monitors whose investigations uncovered the allegedly mishandled internal discipline.
Gallo said those (paid) monitors were hoping to “keep themselves employed, show up once every three months, hire more attorneys — and I, as a taxpayer, seem to be paying that price. We need to move on.”
Honored to inaugurate our new Singer Associates Public Relations East Bay office with its first press conference featuring Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, Councilman Noel Gallo, and attorney Will Edelman of Delahunty & Edelman. pic.twitter.com/dd83wC3e19— Singer Associates Public Relations San Francisco (@SFPRFirm) January 24, 2023
(The two cases involved the same Oakland police sergeant who was in a 2021 off-duty hit-and-run and left the scene, and the next year discharged his weapon in a police department elevator, and threw his shell casings off the Bay Bridge to destroy the evidence.)
OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong had a big turnout at a rally hosted by the NAACP requesting that he be reinstated to his job after he was put on administrative leave. https://t.co/lPzTsotPIB pic.twitter.com/unpgpX0gFi— KTVU (@KTVU) January 24, 2023
Then on Tuesday, KRON4 reports the Oakland NAACP held a rally in support of Armstrong outside Rene C. Davidson Courthouse. Armstrong spoke, as did other community leaders.
“We demand that he be exonerated,” Bishop Bob Jackson of the Acts Full Gospel Church said at the rally, per KRON4. “I said ‘exonerated.’ We don’t want nothing ruining his reputation. Exonerated and his position as Oakland’s chief of police be reinstated. And when do we want it? When do we want it? We want now.”
And KPIX points out the irony that civil rights attorney John Burriss spoke in Armstrong’s support at the rally, odd considering that Burriss himself litigated the federal oversight arrangement back in 2003. "We are in a better space now than we ever were starting out," Burris said Tuesday. "And we don't have the beatings that we used to have. We do not have that kind of viciousness among officers. There's a real accountability that occurred."
A packed crowd here in Oakland as many are calling on Mayor Thao to reinstate LeRonne Armstrong as police chief.— Ryan Curry (@RyanCurryTV) January 24, 2023
Councilmember’s Taylor and Gallo are here. The Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce as well as the Oakland NAACP are here. @abc7newsbayarea pic.twitter.com/fFZS2Sqgo6
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, who placed Armstong on leave, seemed none too pleased to be asked about the matter, considering she was holding a press conference for the Monday night Oakland shooting that killed one and injured four others.
“I have not seen a request from the NAACP,” Thao responded on the matter. “I know that they have an ongoing media thing that’s happening probably right now as well too but at the end of the day, that’s a personnel matter. And we’re going to leave it at that. And thank you for respecting the fact that we are here to speak about a mass shooting in our beautiful city of Oakland where people have died. Thank you.”
New photos show the hit-and-run linked to two Oakland cops. The impact sheared off a Mercedes’ bumper. “They didn’t even leave a note or anything,” owner says. Oakland chief now on leave https://t.co/1sWhzQQDd3— Michael Barba (@mdbarba) January 24, 2023
The problem for Armstrong is that the drip-drip of new revelations about the case are already turning into a steady stream, and none of them look good for the OPD. Late last week, Oaklandside named the previously unnamed sergeant in the discipline matters as Michael Chung, “A popular officer who ran the department’s flashy new drone unit.” Then the SF Standard ran with that to track down the victim of the hit-and-run accident, who said a full $14,000 of damage was done to his car.
“It wasn’t until The Standard called [victim Nicholas] Perry on Monday that he learned officials blamed an Oakland police sergeant and his romantic partner—another cop — for the hit-and-run,” the Standard reports.
Image: @SFPRFirm via Twitter