Editor's confessed killer says he was 'conned'

San Francisco Chronicle/April 26, 2009

Devaughndre Broussard is charged with the killing. Yusuf Bey IV led Your Black Muslim Bakery. Yusuf Bey IV preaches at Your Black Muslim Bakery in 2007... Chauncey Bailey was slain on his way to work at the Oakla...

He may have been a cold-blooded killer and "soldier" in Your Black Muslim Bakery, but Devaughndre Broussard was crying like a child after a few minutes alone with bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV.

That night in August 2007, Broussard - who had just been caught trying to get rid of the shotgun used the day before to kill Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey - held out for hours under police interrogation.

Suddenly, Oakland police presented Broussard with Bey, a man who, although just two years his senior, he had trusted and followed - but who had just identified him to investigators as Bailey's killer.

Broussard demanded to talk to Bey alone. In those moments, Bey's power over his follower was supreme.

Bey had ordered him to shoot the journalist, Broussard said, but now he was telling him he had to take sole responsibility for the good of the bakery, a black self-empowerment group that had been an Oakland institution for nearly 40 years. He promised him an easy life in return once he got out of prison.

Broussard, then 19, was far from a gullible weakling. When he turned against Bey last month and told his story to an Alameda County prosecutor, Broussard - the hardened product of housing projects and group homes - made it clear he knew the reality of the streets. He had even read Machiavelli, he said.

A way to get a job, diploma

In his year at the bakery, Broussard had developed a skepticism bordering on contempt toward the "con" that Bey was running - "that religious s-," being pushed by a young man with a couple of houses and luxury cars who called on his followers to sacrifice.

But at the same time, he embraced the bakery's discipline as a way to get a job, earn a high school diploma, then get a college education - because, he said, "I knew I was destined for something."

Only too late, he said, did he realize he had thrown his life away.

Devaughndre Broussard grew up in housing projects and group homes in San Francisco's Western Addition and, later, with his father in Richmond. By 18, he was a high school dropout jailed for robbery.

But at points in his childhood, he had shown potential. When he was 15, Broussard took part in a mentorship program at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and won a $100 savings bond for showing how best to invest a hypothetical $1 million.

Now, a day before he was to get out of San Francisco jail in July 2006, a friend asked him what he intended to do. "S-! Go back to the 'hood," Broussard, who is now 21, said during a five-hour interview in March with Deputy District Attorney Chris Lamiero, the prosecutor in the Bailey case.

The friend, Richard Lewis, was a member of Your Black Muslim Bakery. He said the Oakland group had something to offer - a way Broussard could get his life back on track.

"It's a job, but it's not a job," Lewis explained. The group was both pro-black and militant, Lewis said - "they just don't talk about it."

Soon after he got out, Broussard called the head of the bakery, Yusuf Bey IV, who arranged for a car to take him to the group's San Pablo Avenue headquarters.

"That's how I got in," Broussard said.

According to his interview with the prosecutor, a recording of which was obtained by The Chronicle, Broussard expected a boring business meeting that night. But when he got there, he saw people dressed in sweats, practicing drills to commands of "left, right, about face." "They (were) really into this," he recalled.

'It's more than a job'

Upstairs, Bey was presiding over a meeting with followers.

"It's more than a job," Bey told them, according to Broussard. "We just don't take anything. If something happens, (it will be) just eyeball to eye and tooth for a tooth."

Broussard bought in, thinking: "If somebody ... hit me, I'm gonna hit him back."

He liked hearing Bey speak of black pride and self-empowerment to the bakery brethren, many of whom came from the street. "People wanna do different ... so what he was talking about is appealing," Broussard said. "That propaganda about the black man" was inspirational to those who had no sense of their history, he said.

Broussard made his own plans. Finish high school and go on to college. "I gotta get to San Francisco, that's my goal," he said. "However I get there, I get there."

'We need strong soldiers'

However, the pay Broussard got at the bakery for washing dishes, doing odd jobs and running errands proved to be meager and sporadic. When it came, late, his first check was for $300 for two weeks' work.

"We always say this is not just a job ... it's a cause," he said Bey explained to him. "You gotta stay strong for the bakery. ... We need soldiers like you ... willing to sacrifice for the bakery."

Bey's "key word" was sacrifice, Broussard recalled. "That way people won't grumble," he said. "He tells you at the same time to see how dedicated you really are to what we dedicated to."

When he was paid cash, Broussard was told not to tell anyone. That gave him a feeling that he was one of the trusted.

"I'm gonna be here," Broussard recalled thinking to himself. "I started believing in the cause."

One night in December 2006, Broussard was ordered on a mission that launched his violent career at the bakery. The job was to shoot up a car of a man who had upset a woman Bey knew.

'We had to retaliate'

Broussard was skeptical about what he called "knight in shining armor s-." But he did what Bey asked, he told the prosecutor, and as the bakery leader watched from around a corner, Broussard and other men sprayed the empty car with gunfire.

The next day, Broussard challenged Bey, asking, "What was the reason for that?"

Bey explained that his former girlfriend had come crying to him about her current boyfriend, "So we had to do something. ... We had to retaliate."

"Over a (woman)?" Broussard scoffed. "That's some sucker s-."

"We stick up for ourselves," Bey replied.

A month later, Broussard quit the bakery. He was living across from the headquarters in an apartment that reminded him of the housing projects - no hot water, no electricity. And the rigors of the bakery now felt more like "slave hours" and exploitation. The final straw, he said, came when a member of a bakery security detail threatened his life during a dispute.

He said he told Bey, "I can go back to the streets. ... So it's not really like I don't have nowhere else to go. I've got options."

But those options led nowhere, and the bakery's pull was strong. He came back and left two more times. In June 2007, he said, Bey lured him back for good, telling him, "All the weaklings gone now. It's straight soldiers now."

'You ain't sacrificing hard'

But by this time, the bakery was near collapse, and Bey was battling in Bankruptcy Court to keep from losing the San Pablo Avenue headquarters.

"Y'all going bankrupt?" Broussard finally asked his leader. "Yeah, that's why we needed the people to sacrifice," Bey replied.

"You want us to sacrifice, I'm like, man, we got holes in our shoes," Broussard shot back. "You got (Nike Air) Jordans on your feet, man, you ain't sacrificing that hard like us."

"We gotta try to save our bakery," Bey reasoned, according to Broussard. "This not just for me, this for y'all. ... This is for the brothers that need somewhere to come to work. This bakery houses people, this bakery feeds people, this bakery puts money in people's pockets."

Broussard often laughed at such talk - he was coming to view the bakery as a "little cult." Yet he also saw that it did good work - people indeed got jobs and shelter and were getting off drugs.

"Besides the people that was hurt in the process," he said, "a lot of people was helped."

Still, he told the prosecutor, he knew Bey was playing a game.

"His con was that bakery," Broussard said. "He get you to believe what they believing in. ... That's brainwashing."

He concluded, "I knew his kind, though, and I still was brainwashed. I still fell for a trap that I knew - well, I knew where the trap was."

Fish sandwich

Soon after Broussard came back, Bey gave him another mission: Follow the father of the man who killed Bey's brother in 2005. Broussard said it would soon be clear that he would be called on to more than just "clock" the enemies on a list Bey kept on a clipboard. He would be told to execute them.

Broussard was not afraid to kill. In fact, he spoke about it matter-of-factly. He would dress for the job in a jogging outfit, he told prosecutors, to be inconspicuous. He would learn people's habits. After that, he said, they were "sitting ducks."

"You might not even know," he said. The victim would think, " 'Oh, it's a jogger,' you know? ... That's how cold the game is."

One day, a homeless man, Odell Roberson, walked by the bakery, as he often did. Bey greeted him warmly, and when Roberson asked for food, Bey gave him a fish sandwich. But Bey pointed out the man to Broussard as a relative of the man who had killed Bey's brother.

Broussard wondered, why give a fish sandwich to someone you wanted to kill? Why, he said he asked Bey, not "get back to somebody that did something to your family?"

"It's why we need soldiers like you," Bey responded.

Soon, Broussard said, Bey's orders were to "take him out."

On July 8, 2007, Broussard was patrolling near the bakery. When Roberson happened by, Broussard said, he called him over and shot him, even as Roberson had his hands in the air.

"What was the glory in it?" district attorney's investigator Toni Sall asked.

"I was following orders, that's all," Broussard said. "That's the best way I can explain it. ... He told me to do something and then ... I just followed through."

'Ain't no conversation piece'

Broussard said that early the next month, Bey gave him another mission. He pointed out Chauncey Bailey in a video of the funeral for his father, bakery founder Yusuf Bey. Bailey was the "mother- that killed my dad," Bey said, and now he was writing a story about the bakery's problems for the Oakland Post, according to Broussard.

Bey's orders were to execute him, Broussard told the prosecutor. The two men and another guard at the bakery, Antoine Mackey, went to Bailey's apartment near Lake Merritt, plotting how Bailey would be killed, Broussard said.

The next day, Aug. 2, 2007, Broussard carried out the killing, firing three shotgun blasts at Bailey as he walked in downtown Oakland, he told prosecutors.

Bey was "like a little kid" afterward, Broussard said, wanting to know what the inside of Bailey's head looked like.

Even Broussard, who thought nothing about gunning down a man he didn't even know, was taken aback.

"I'm like, psh," Broussard told the prosecutor, stumbling for words. "That's not something that ... that ain't no conversation piece, you know."

'Why me?'

The next day, Broussard was caught during an Oakland police raid as he tossed the shotgun used to kill Bailey out a window.

All day in police custody, Broussard kept investigators at bay, denying his involvement and asserting his right against self-incrimination. Broussard figured that if he kept his mouth shut, he would face only a weapons possession charge.

Then police Sgt. Derwin Longmire, the lead investigator on the case, floored him with the news: Bey had turned on him.

Bey "said I killed (Bailey) and I told him I killed him," Broussard said. "Like out the blue ... I went and killed somebody and told him out the blue."

Then police brought in Bey, and Broussard asked to talk to him alone. Police did not tape the unusual meeting.

By Broussard's account, he was filled with rage and a sense of betrayal. "I was crying like ... I'm about to throw myself off a cliff right now," Broussard recalled.

"You told on me, man," he said, asking Bey: "Why me?"

The bakery leader responded with all the proselytizing, appeals to racial and religious pride, and materialistic enticements he could come up with, Broussard said. Closing the deal

"He said they raided the bakery for that murder case," Broussard said. "Everybody can't go down for that. Somebody's gotta serve it for us.

"All you gotta do is say you did it," Broussard says Bey told him. "You gonna get out and gonna be safe."

Broussard pondered the offer.

"How old was he? Twenty-one years old. Couple houses, couple - not Toyotas and Hondas, he had luxury cars, luxury cars, you know what I'm saying? I'm about to get a piece of that? Just put in some work. You put in work on the streets for nothin', for some chump change. Psh, man. This money's right here."

Then Bey closed the deal.

"He started hittin' me with that religious s-," Broussard said. "You can't just say you a believer based on your words alone. ... You gotta act upon your faith."

Broussard gave in.

"I'm down thinking like, OK ... he did the best for us," he told the prosecutor. "Like, I could sacrifice something."

"I'm showing I'm a true believer. I'm a true believer in Islam," Broussard recalled thinking to himself. "At the same time, I feel like damn, bro, I'm not gonna confess to murder.

"It was overwhelming. That's why I cried. It was overwhelming."

Broussard said he thought to himself, "I'm about to lose my life ... I'm 19 years old. Damn, I haven't accomplished what I needed to do yet. That's what I said. I said, 'I haven't done nothing yet.'

"I said, 'I'm about to throw my own life.' "

But Bey soothed him with promises of a lawyer, Broussard said: "You gonna walk on this case. And when you come home you gonna be taken care of."

"I shot the dice," Broussard said. "It was a gamble."

'All a game'

Broussard's last gamble with the bakery did not pay off as he had hoped.

He confessed, then recanted, and for a year and a half has been the only person charged with Bailey's murder. In March, he cut a deal with prosecutors and agreed to testify before a grand jury that Bey had ordered him to kill Bailey and Roberson.

In exchange, he'll plead guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter and serve up to 25 years in state prison. Last week, Broussard testified over two days before the panel, which is expected to decide soon whether to indict Bey and Mackey on murder and other charges. Both men are in custody on other crimes.

Bey's attorney, Anne Beles, says he had nothing to do with Bailey's killing. She declined to comment further, saying, "We will not try our case in the media."

Broussard gave in to prosecutors after coming to a realization that escaped him while he was talking with Bey in the police interview room.

"He was all a game," Broussard said of his one-time leader. "It was all a game. He just threw me to the wolves, that's what it was. I didn't see it at the time, though."

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