A subplot of Oakland PD chief LeRonne Armstrong’s February firing has spawned another subplot, as the former captain who lost his job over a seemingly botched internal affairs investigation insists he’s not the one who botched the investigation.
Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong was placed on administrative leave in January and fired in February, and despite a coordinated PR campaign to get him rehired, that whole affair seems to have faded from the headlines. But now it’s back in the headlines, though reasons that have more to do with the bit players in the scandal than with Armstrong himself.
UPDATE: @oaklandpoliceca Sgt. Michael Chung is accused of leaving scene after he hit parked Mercedes S6 600 w/dept. Chevy Tahoe - w/@oaklandpoliceca gf on board - ripping off car’s bumper & causing $14K in damage, per sources & claim, @ljfernandez reports: https://t.co/VwoAZJ7WOR pic.twitter.com/gcvdNWyEHi— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) January 26, 2023
As a refresher; Armstrong was fired for having allegedly gone easy on sergeant Michael Chung, who A) allegedly did $14,000 of damage to a Mercedes and stone-cold just drove away in a March 2021 hit-and-run, B) allegedly had his girlfriend in the car, who was another Oakland PD officer and one of Chung’s direct reports, so that’s considered a no-no, and C) allegedly fired his weapon inside a department elevator in April 2022, and threw the shell casings off the Bay Bridge in an attempt to cover the whole thing up.
Oakland's longtime outside federal monitors determined the internal affairs investigation to be lax, or perhaps cleaned up after the fact. As Oaklandside describes, the internal affairs report may have been highly watered down with regard to these multiple potentially fireable offenses.
UPDATE: @oaklandpoliceca @ChiefLeronne “not credible” when he denied knowing details of crash involving Sgt. Michael Chung, and then-Capt. Wilson Lau ordered downgrade of incident, law firm says in report obtained by @KTVU @ljfernandez @EvanSernoffsky. https://t.co/BjhrzBM9IT pic.twitter.com/oQ7c2ep0dk— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) February 9, 2023
“The then-captain of internal affairs, Wilson Lau, who had served for several years on the board of the Oakland Asian Officers Association with Chung, ordered [OPD Sgt. Chan] Lee to revise his report so that Chung was only found to have violated the department’s rule against causing a preventable collision,” that site reported in February. “Lau also ordered that [girlfriend Kayla] Brandwood, whose grandfather was an OPD officer, not be treated as a subject of the investigation but instead as a witness.”
And of the elevator gunfire, Oaklandside reports that Chung’s version of events was that he “had been suicidal when he shot the elevator. Chung said he was experiencing ‘difficult financial circumstances.’”
UPDATE: Ex-@oaklandpoliceca Capt. Wilson Lau, who oversaw internal probe that law firm says was botched, speaks out to @KTVU, saying he’s a scapegoat in case that led to @ChiefLeronne’s ouster. Judge blasts “cultural inability of OPD to police itself” 5:30, 6:20, 7 p.m. @KTVU pic.twitter.com/MApJNQXuS6— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) April 11, 2023
So federal monitors found that all of this indicated a cover-up, and Chief Armstrong was eventually fired for allowing it on his watch. But in events not directly related to Armstrong, the former internal affairs captain Wilson Lau has filed legal proceedings against the city of Oakland, according to KTVU, saying that he was fired from his new job at the East Bay Regional Parks police because of all the bad headlines this case was generating.
“On Monday, Lau filed a claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, against Oakland, accusing the city of retaliation and discrimination,” as KTVU explains.
Lau tells KTVU he was made the fall guy. "It was an incomplete investigation that I sent back for follow-up work. And later on I find out that the work I told him to do wasn't done," Lau told the station. "And then to come back a year later after it's closed, to be blamed for everything when I never even saw the final product."
This has already disrupted the end of the Oakland Police Department's federal oversight. Per KTVU, the overseeing U.S. District Judge William Orrick “said he is extending the so-called ‘sustainability period,’ or probationary period, which had originally been set to end in June,” and “The judge scheduled another hearing for Sept. 26.” So that means Oakland PD will presumably remain under federal oversight until at least late September, and maybe longer.
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