Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong was abruptly fired by the city’s mayor Wednesday over his handling of misconduct allegations involving one of his officers.
“I am no longer confident that Chief Armstrong can do the work needed,” said Mayor Sheng Thao, who was elected in November.
Armstrong was placed on administrative leave last month following a scathing report from outside law firm Clarence Dyer & Cohen LLP and subsequent findings from a federal monitor. The investigation found multiple cases of police misconduct within the department that were not met with disciplinary action.
The reports cited a 2021 incident in which an officer crashed his car into another vehicle and left the scene. That same officer fired his gun inside a freight elevator at a police building a year later. Neither of the incidents were reported or handled properly. The reports found Armstrong closed the investigations without properly reviewing evidence.
Armstrong’s reactions to the findings played a large role in Mayor Thao’s decision.
“Chief Armstrong made a number of statements that troubled me. Chief Armstrong said these were not incidents where officers behaved poorly. He stated that he did not believe these incidents reflected systemic problems,” she said.
The Oakland Police Department is no stranger to turmoil. OPD has been under federal oversight for two decades and has cycled through seven leaders over as many years.
Thao said Wednesday she still hopes OPD can turn a corner.
“I made a commitment as your mayor to ensure the police department and city can prove, once and for all, that Oakland can ensure constitutional policing without federal oversight. Our police department has made great strides. But there is so much more to be done, and to do.”
Armstrong has denied the allegations against him, calling it “a last-ditch effort” to destroy his credibility.
“I am deeply disappointed in the Mayor’s decision. After the relevant facts are fully evaluated by weighing evidence instead of pulling soundbites from strategically leaked, inaccurate reports, it will be clear I was a loyal and effective reformer of the Oakland Police Department,” Armstrong said in a statement through his attorney Wednesday. “It will be equally clear that I committed no misconduct, and my termination is fundamentally wrong, unjustified, and unfair.”