'I did nothing wrong': Oakland police chief demands to be reinstated to post

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
'I did nothing wrong': OPD chief demands to be reinstated to post
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For the first time, we're hearing from embattled Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong after he was placed on paid leave by Mayor Sheng Thao.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- For the first time, we're hearing from embattled Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong after he was placed on paid leave by Mayor Sheng Thao. It follows an investigation which found the chief failed to properly investigate alleged misconduct by an officer.

On Monday, the chief demanded to be reinstated during a rare news conference.

RELATED: Oakland mayor says chief being placed on leave is not intended to be punitive

"I deserve to be reinstated as chief of police immediately by the city of Oakland," said Chief Armstrong.

Armstrong made it clear he wants to return to his job. "I should remain in my position, I did nothing wrong I violated no policies," he added.

Armstrong called a rare news conference five days after he was put on paid administrative leave by Mayor Sheng Thao, for alleged "dereliction of duty" after a report showed the chief failed to properly investigate misconduct by one of his sergeants. That sergeant allegedly left the scene of an collision and failed to report it. The same sergeant later discharged a gun in an elevator inside OPD headquarters.

Armstrong said he followed protocol in both cases.

RELATED: Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong placed on administrative leave for 'dereliction of duty'

"I placed that officer on administrative leave as a result of that, but neither the department nor myself as chief of police ever had the opportunity to actually participate in the investigation or disciplinary process because it was adopted by the federal monitor, who took the investigation out of my hands so he could handle it himself."

The OPD has been under federal oversight for 20 years. Armstrong and his attorney claim the federal monitor, Robert Warshaw, has self-interest in the case.

"The federal monitor in this case has a very clear self-interest for doing what he's done, creating a crisis which will extend the monitor's contract where he earns a lot of money," said the chief's attorney, Will Edelman.

"Our police commission is prepared to step in and oversee this department. This is to me clearly a last-ditch effort to destroy the credibility of me and the department and make the public believe the OPD is involved in shady business. That's not what this is," said Armstrong.

It's up to Mayor Thao to decide if Chief Armstrong stays or goes.

"Until we have the full picture, I cannot stand here and tell you a decision has been made," said Mayor Thao.

Councilman Noel Gallo is lending his support.

"Let's move on and allow our chief to do his job and let the taxpayers invest that money in more officers on the street," Gallo said.

ABC7 News has reached out to the OPD'S federal monitor for comment, no response so far.

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