OAKLAND — The August 2007 raid on Your Black Muslim Bakery was postponed 48 hours to accommodate the vacation schedules of two senior SWAT commanders, a delay that likely cost journalist Chauncey Bailey his life, according to police sources and a lawyer representing an officer deeply involved in planning the raid.

During the delay between the first scheduled date, Aug. 1, and the raid Aug. 3, a masked gunman killed Bailey — a slaying in which authorities believe bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV was involved.

Officers familiar with the raid's planning and execution say Bailey's killing could have been prevented if not for the delay. While police did not know Bailey was being targeted, they strongly suspected bakery members had begun a killing spree that had resulted in two July 2007 deaths and described the need for the raid as paramount.

Police have for 15 months denied delaying the raid.

"I was never given any other date" other than Aug. 3, Assistant Chief Howard Jordon told Bay Area News Group-East Bay in October 2007.

On Monday, police Chief Wayne Tucker made varying statements about the matter in an interview with the Chauncey Bailey Project.

First, Tucker said there was no delay, then he said the decision to delay the raid from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3 was because "we were not ready. "... It was my decision and mine only to delay."

Then Tucker contracted further, saying, "It was never scheduled to go on the 1st. My staff may have wanted to go on the 1st. I didn't want to go on the 1st. And I made the decision based on what my comfort level was and my assurance that it was going to be successful."

Questions about the delay were "call(ing) my reputation into question," he said.

Four officers involved in the raid and two other senior members of Alameda County law enforcement confirmed the first scheduled date of Aug. 1, and said it was delayed because two senior SWAT commanders, Deputy Chief David Kozicki and Capt. Ed Tracey, were on a backpacking trip, and they wanted to be present.

Kozicki and Tracey did not respond to messages Monday or attend Tucker's brief interview at police headquarters.

Michael Rains, an attorney representing another officer involved in the raid planning, said his client, homicide Lt. Ersie Joyner III, knew of the delay, and objected to it.

"A decision was made to delay and put off the (raid) and the service of the search warrants to Aug. 3," Rains said.

That postponement came "over (Joyner's) very strong statements. He was prophetic" that Bey IV would order more killings, Rains said. Rains is representing Joyner and detective Sgt. Derwin Longmire in an internal affairs and state Department of Justice investigations into the handling of the Bailey case.

A former Oakland lieutenant who was a watch commander in 2007 about the time of the raid said the delay was unfortunate but not intentional.

"There was no violation of protocol, there was just an unfortunate set of circumstances. So just own up to that," said retired Lt. Patrick Garrahan.

In midsummer 2007, police believed bakery members were responsible for two North Oakland gun killings: Odell Roberson on July 8, 2007, and Michael Wills four days later.

On July 25, at the urging of Joyner and homicide Sgt. Lou Cruz, the police Targeted Enforcement Task Force began night surveillance of Bey IV. After several nights of watching the bakery, the raid was scheduled for Aug. 1, officers said.

The idea was to hit the compound to search for evidence in the Wills and Roberson cases — which remain unsolved — and a May 2007 kidnapping for which Bey IV and three followers face life sentences if convicted.

On Monday, July 30, 2007, SWAT teams drilled at the Oakland Army Base in preparation for raiding the bakery less than 48 hours later. They practiced storming buildings and ripping through doors with a chain saw to gain entry.

But then, officers said, they were ordered to stand down. The raid was pushed back two days — to Friday, Aug. 3, because Kozicki and Tracey had been on a backpacking trip and wanted to participate, according to Rains and police sources.

Police on July 30 rented two U-Haul trucks to carry a strike force to the bakery from a staging area several blocks away. They tried to extend the rental agreement on the vehicles, but were turned down and had to hurriedly rent other trucks from the Penske company to use Aug. 3, officers said.

Credit card slips and rental agreements obtained from the city under the public records act confirm the transactions.

The four officers said that the nature of SWAT operations requires a constant state of readiness and the ability to react with little notice. There were more than enough senior officers available to supervise the operation Aug. 1, they said, even though the risks were thought to be high.

"Based on the (intelligence) we received we knew that it was going be rough," said one SWAT officer. "We expected to take some casualties on this." We were doing a final run-through at the Oakland Army Base on Monday to prepare for Wednesday's raid when word came down that we had to wait until Friday when Kozicki and Tracey got back."

Because of the delay, the officers assigned to watching Bey IV stood down in the early morning hours of Aug. 1. The officers had been working double shifts, were exhausted, and were needed for the raid, rescheduled for Aug. 3, said police sources. On Aug. 2, shortly after midnight, Bey IV and two of his followers, Antoine Mackey and Devaughndre Broussard drove from the bakery to Bailey's apartment near Lake Merritt and parked there for 14 minutes, according to a tracking device on Bey IV's car and police statements.

Police also have a recorded statement of a bakery worker saying Bey IV was highly agitated Aug. 1. The person also is said to have told police that Bey IV prayed for strength with Mackey and Broussard.

A man who lived at the bakery told police he loaned Bey IV a white minivan without license plates about 6 a.m. Aug. 2. Bailey was gunned down about 90 minutes later near downtown. Witnesses told police they saw the masked killer flee in a white minivan without license plates.

The bakery worker who spoke to police said Bey IV said of Bailey's killing "that will teach them to (expletive) with me."

The next morning, Aug. 3, 200 officers raided the bakery compound on San Pablo Avenue without incident. Later that day, Broussard confessed to killing Bailey, a statement he has since recanted.

But the operation was too late for Bailey.

"The police department, they just fumbled everything," said Bailey's sister, Lorelei Waqia. "They caused the death, really. If they had moved on it, my brother would still be alive."

Retired Lt. Garrahan said SWAT officers told him "all the coordination had been done; that the reason I kept getting was that this backpacking trip was the reason for the delay."

Garrahan retired in April, but keeps in touch with many officers. Many of those officers, he said, are angry that police commanders have never acknowledged the raid delay.

"If the guy on the street, the man or woman that's driving around in that police car out there, is held accountable to a standard where you must be honest, you must be truthful, then that should go all the way up the chain of command," he said.

Mary Fricker, an independent journalist, also contributed to this report. Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group. Bob Butler is an independent journalist. Contact them at tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.com, bobbutler7@comcast.net, and maryfricker@hughes.net.