San Francisco Police Chief William Scott on Tuesday said a freelance journalist who was handcuffed for six hours while police raided his home and office is being considered by investigators as a possible co-conspirator in the theft of a leaked police report.
Freelance stringer journalist Bryan Carmody has been accused by police of unlawfully obtaining a police report into the Feb. 22 death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi and then selling it to local news outlets. During a news conference at the Police Department’s headquarters, Scott said that although he couldn’t reveal too many details because of the court-ordered sealed search warrants from the May 10 raid, he said:
“While we fully respect the First Amendment rights of journalists, and the related laws of California, the San Francisco Police Department sought search warrants in the San Francisco Superior Court based on probable cause that the crimes we have described did occur and that the warrants would further the investigation. Our actions reflect that we believe Mr. Carmody was a suspect in a criminal conspiracy to steal this confidential report.”
Scott added that investigators believe Carmody was motivated by both financial gain and a desire to tarnish Adachi’s image, who’s known for uncovering misconduct within the police and sheriff departments. Scott also said that investigators are also looking into the possibility Carmody himself may have paid for the leaked report.
While Scott has maintained the search warrants were served lawfully amid allegations that it may have violated the state’s Shield Law, he said the incident has served as a learning lesson for police. Earlier Tuesday, a judge heard motions filed on behalf of Carmody seeking to unseal and quash the search warrants. A third motion filed also seeks to have the items seized during the raid returned to him.
But attorney for the police department Ronnie Wagner said in court that the items have been made available for Carmody to pick up since Monday evening. On Twitter Carmody said Tuesday afternoon he was still waiting to get his property back and the process had been delayed because of paperwork. The items taken by police include latptops, cameras and his personal cellphone, Carmody said.
Because police took Carmody’s laptop, cameras and personal cellphone during the raid, he said he’d been unable to run his freelance news agency, North Bay Television News, since the raid.