In a case that has implicated three police departments in the Bay Area, the Richmond police chief is on leave after she and her husband, an Oakland police sergeant, were accused of abuse by a family member who claims They are being manipulated by their broker.
Richmond Police Chief Bisa French has taken leave after several incidents involving a close family member, an 18-year-old woman who accused French and a police sergeant. Le French attacks her and threatens to kill her and the man she insists is her accomplice. The partner, 34-year-old Napa resident Joe Goldman, was charged Wednesday with pimping a family member of French. Lee French is also on personal leave from the OPD.
Meanwhile, Vallejo’s police are investigating an incident between French and her husband at Goldman’s mother’s home there. And Oakland’s Department of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation into Chief Leron Armstrong’s communications with the Vallejo police chief about that incident.
Court records and interviews with officials give different details of events involving French, his family members, and Goldman. In a restraining order request, the family member claims that during a brawl at their home on September 21, Besa and Lee French used a “police hold” to shoot down the family member during an argument, and repeated death threats against him and Goldman. .
“I am concerned[Bissa and Lee French]will go through the murders,” the family member wrote in his restraining order request. She said that the French both repeatedly threatened to kill Goldman and members of her family, and felt that she “won’t leave her home alive” if she did not comply with their demands to leave Goldman. The family member wrote that he left the encounter with a “swollen and bleeding” right arm and a “slight bruise”.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for Bisa French said the couple “wanted nothing more than to get (their family member) back and take him away from this despicable man and have made legitimate efforts to achieve that.”
A Contra Costa Superior Court judge has temporarily denied a restraining order pending the outcome of an October 25 hearing, writing in court records that the allegation, “while serious, appears to involve complex issues.” which require a hearing.”
The restraining order requests were filed on October 7. The same day, the Oakland Police Department obtained an arrest warrant against Goldman, who was arrested four days later in Richmond by a US Marshal with the assistance of the Richmond Police Department. On Wednesday, Alameda County prosecutors accused Goldman of intimidating a member of a French family.
The criminal complaint alleges crimes that took place in June. It is not clear why the authorities waited nearly four months to frame criminal charges and issue an arrest warrant. The complaint states that Goldman, who also goes by O’Ho McNair, has a prior conviction of human trafficking.
According to the Probable Cause Declaration against Goldman, Bisa and Lee French arranged for an Oakland police officer and an FBI agent to speak with a member of their family. An Oakland officer took the young woman to a friend’s house, and on the way, Oakland police say she admitted that Goldman was her pimp. The woman denied that she was being trafficked or that Goldman had ever abused her in a restraining order request.
According to Oakland Police investigators, earlier this month, the woman agreed to go to an out-of-state “treatment program” but absconded five days later. The restraining order request indicates that it was written from the facility. When Goldman was arrested Monday at the 500 block of Burke Avenue in Richmond, the woman was with him, according to the probable cause statement.
Bisa French’s lawyer, Mike Rains, told the newspaper that Goldman “took this wonderful young woman, who is an outstanding scholar in high school, graduated magna cum laude, and made her stand out against her own family.” A criminal turned into a prostitute.”
“They have not committed any crime, they will cooperate fully with the administrative investigation and criminal investigation,” Rains said. “These allegations are simply the product of brainwash by the horrific man who smuggled him in. That’s what we’re dealing with.”
Meanwhile, Solano County officials are investigating allegations that Bissa and Lee French threatened Goldman’s mother after showing up at their Vallejo home on September 22, according to multiple law enforcement sources. Vallejo police have yet to bring the findings of the investigation to the Solano County District Attorney to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against French in relation to the incident. Officials said that was expected to happen in the coming weeks.
Following that incident, according to law enforcement sources, Vallejo Police Chief Shawnee Williams sent communications to Oakland Police Chief Armstrong to discuss what had happened. An Oakland Police spokesman said the department has opened an internal affairs investigation into Armstrong’s conversations with Williams, but declined to comment further. The spokesman said Lee was “not privy to any part of the criminal investigation” into French Goldman.
Vallejo police did not return a request for comment on the September 22 incident. Williams also did not respond to a request for comment.
Besa French, a Richmond police officer since 1998, has continued to rise though the ranks of the department. He has served as a Public Information Officer, Assistant Chief, Captain-in-Charge of the Youth Services Bureau and a Havildar in the Domestic Violence Unit, among other roles. She is in her second year as chief after being appointed in July 2020, when she became both the first woman and the first black woman to hold the role.
So far, his tenure as head of France has been far from public controversy.
Bisa French’s leave is indefinite, according to a department-wide email sent by Assistant Richmond Police Chief Louis Tirona, who is taking over as acting police chief during French’s absence. The email said French left because of “urgent family matters” and added, “If you are so inclined, please keep him and his family in your prayers.”
Rains said Bisa and Lee would “fully cooperate” with the French administrative and criminal investigation, and would speak publicly after the investigation was over.