San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott on May 21, 2019 discussed the raid of the home of a freelance journalist.

Jenna Lane/KCBS Radio

Police Suspect Journalist Conspired To Steal Report About Adachi, Chief Says

Jenna Lane
May 21, 2019 - 9:05 pm

San Francisco’s police chief is trying to explain the May 10 raids of a journalist’s home and office that First Amendment advocates have called illegal.

Chief Bill Scott again defended his department, which had recently been criticized by Mayor London Breed and District Attorney George Gascon over the treatment of freelance journalist Bryan Carmody.

Police took a sledgehammer to the gate of Carmody’s home, kept him in handcuffs for several hours, and seized the equipment, video and notes in his newsroom as part of their investigation into the leaked SFPD report on Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s death. 

Scott said Tuesday that leaks happen all the time, and he understands that journalists work with them. But he said police suspect that Carmody was a co-conspirator to steal, not a passive recipient of, the leaked report.

“Definitely we believe that an SFPD employee was a part of this,” Scott said.

He said investigators do not yet know who in their department interacted with Carmody. Carmody has refused to reveal his source in accordance with California’s shield law.

“We believe that that contact, and that interaction, went across the line. It went past just doing your job as a journalist,” Scott said, but he would not explain how. The affidavits in support of the search warrants remain under seal. 

Attorneys for Carmody and First Amendment groups have asked to unseal and quash the warrants that two San Francisco judges approved. A third San Francisco judge has set June 10 as the date to schedule arguments on their requests.

At a court hearing earlier on Tuesday, a lawyer for the police said the department would return the items that officers seized from Carmody.