Former Oakland police chief 'likely' to appeal his firing

Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong will "likely" initiate an appeal regarding his dismissal, a spokesperson for Armstrong said on Monday.  

Armstrong was fired by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao last Wednesday for two alleged infractions from a police sergeant and an investigation by the Police Department internal affairs division that was allegedly done poorly.  

The sergeant was involved in a crash into a parked vehicle in 2021 and allegedly left the scene. The following year, the same officer is alleged to have accidentally discharged his gun in the freight elevator of police headquarters and waited a week to report it.  

Protests have taken place in the wake of Armstrong's termination and he has described his firing as retaliation for "standing up for the city."  

"I did my job and I did it well," he said in a statement on Friday, adding that he nearly brought an end to about 20 years of federal oversight of the department.  

On Monday, Armstrong's spokesperson, Sam Singer, sent out a release saying that the mayor "has a community revolt" on her hands and has "let down" the community.  

Singer said Armstrong has been overwhelmed and deeply honored with the number of calls, emails and letters of support he has received after being let go.  

"Chief Armstrong's legal team will likely initiate the appeal process this week to address Mayor Sheng Thao's wrongful and retaliatory decision to terminate him," said Singer.  

Under Armstrong, the department came in line with 51 of 52 of the reforms necessary to comply with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement. The agreement came after lawsuit alleging misconduct by police more than 20 years ago.  

Armstrong said he pointed out to Thao that the conclusions by Robert Warshaw, the monitor overseeing the agreement, "need to be taken with a very big grain of salt, and scrutinized to be sure they are backed by evidence and that they make sense." 

When he did that, Thao fired him, Armstrong said.  

The chief alleges Warshaw has a financial interest in maintaining federal oversight of Oakland police.  

"He is supposed to be neutral, but he is not," he said. 

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Armstrong believes Thao should have asked tough questions about the report alleging misconduct by the police sergeant and the investigation by the department's internal affairs unit.  

The allegations against the sergeant were revealed in an investigative report solicited by the city. The report concluded in part that the internal affairs division "sought to recast, deflect, and minimize the severity of the officer's misconduct."  

Armstrong allegedly did not allow "extensive discussion" of the collision or request that a video of it be shown, the report said.  

Instead, Armstrong quickly approved the recommended finding against the sergeant for being involved in a preventable collision but not for the hit-and-run, according to the report. Armstrong also signed the report of the investigation without reading it, the report said.  

The Oakland Police Commission had questions about the credibility and quality of the report.  

Warshaw though was "profoundly disappointed in the evidence" and saw "significant cultural problems in the department," Thao said the day she fired Armstrong.