A spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums today (Monday) confirmed that an ongoing investigation is being conducted into allegations that Oakland Administrator Deborah Edgerly interfered with a police operation, but refused to comment on published reports that the mayor has given Edgerly an ultimatum to resign or be fired.
“These are very serious allegations and the mayor is looking into them,” Dellums Public Information Officer Paul Rose said by telephone today. “Beyond that, I can’t make any further comment because this is a personnel matter.”
The mayor’s action stemmed from a June 7 West Oakland incident in which Edgerly is alleged to have intervened with Oakland police officers while the officers were towing a car which had been driven by the city administrator’s nephew, 27-year-old William Lovan.
Police later recovered a pistol from the car. Lovan was one of 34 people arrested 10 days later in a police raid on West Oakland’s Acorn gang. A police spokesperson said he was charged with a weapons violation “possibly” stemming from the pistol found in car involved in the June 7 towing.
On Friday afternoon, after stories on the June 7 incident were published in the Oakland Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle, Dellums sent a terse e-mail to all Oakland City staff members saying that “effective immediately, all departments and agencies are to report directly to me regarding city matters.”
Although the Dellums administration would not elaborate further, the e-mail was widely interpreted to mean that Edgerly had been suspended pending the mayor’s investigation.
Also on Friday, Edgerly issued a statement calling the “rumors and press stories” surrounding the June 7 incident were “shocking” and “untrue and unfounded. … I am being tried in the court of public opinion by rumor, innuendo and presumption of guilt. There is obviously much more to this story than can be revealed at this time or in this setting, given that an investigation is now underway. I welcome this investigation and am cooperating fully with the appropriate authorities so that the truth will emerge. I am confident that when it does, you will see a very different picture.”
Edgerly added that she has “not been fired or asked to resign. I have had many gracious and warm conversations with Mayor Dellums over the past three days, as recently as this afternoon. No ultimatums were issued and no decisions have been made. The mayor has given me several days to assess the situation and we will regroup next week.”
The stories of the Dellums ultimatum first appeared in a Friday morning Chip Johnson column in the Chronicle entitled “Edgerly Out As Oakland Administrator” in which Johnson wrote, “The mayor issued an ultimatum at a meeting Wednesday with Edgerly and Police Chief Wayne Tucker, three high-ranking city officials confirmed: She has until Monday to resign, retire or be fired.”
On Saturday, the Tribune said the Dellums ultimatum had been “reconfirmed” by “high ranking officials” familiar with the discussions that took place at the Wednesday meeting. Neither Johnson or the Tribune gave the names of the officials who confirmed the ultimatum.
But while the Johnson column said that Oakland police had alleged that Edgerly had made “attempts to protect an alleged member of the gang” and the Tribune reported that Edgerly was under fire for possibly interfering with a Police Department investigation of a suspected gang member, the original Oakland Police Department report on the incident shows no indication that at the time Edgerly intervened to try to find out why her nephew’s car was being towed, she knew that her nephew was under investigation in the Acorn gang operation.
In the report, written by an OPD officer identified only as N. Miller, the officer said that while he and his partner were in the vicinity of 12th and Market streets as part of the Acorn bust project known as “Operation Nutcracker,” he received information through a confidential informant that Lovan’s car was outside a local liquor store at 12th and Market with the motor running and the keys inside, and that the informant had overheard Lovan telling another individual about “a firearm being inside of the vehicle.”
In the report, Miller said that he initiated a tow of the vehicle. Miller reported that Edgerly appeared on the scene sometime before the auto was towed, telling Miller that “Lovan was her nephew, and she wanted to know why … the vehicle was getting towed and that she was on the phone calling Chief Jordan and will contact Internal Affairs regarding this matter. I informed her that I could not tell her the reason [for the tow], but that I would let her speak with my Sergeant K. Coleman. Mrs. Edgerly said all right.”
There is no indication in Miller’s suspect report of what Sgt. Coleman later told Edgerly in their conversation, or what the city administrator did afterwards.
In the suspect report, Miller says that even Lovan himself was not told the real reason why the car was being towed.
“Sgt. Coleman advised me to have the vehicle towed away from the area to avoid recovering a firearm in the presence of Lovan and possibly jeopardizing [blank] the future of the operation,” Miller wrote. The [blank] word or words are blacked out in the released report, and appear to be the name of the informant who originally reported the Lovan conversation and the presence of the weapon in the car.
Miller said the weapon was later found in the vehicle after a search was done after the car was towed to East Oakland.