The San Francisco Police Department and the FBI continued to face backlash for a raid conducted May 10 at the home and office of a freelance journalist, accused of trying to sell a police report on the death of late Public Defender Jeff Adachi to news outlets.
On Friday, May, 10, police, along with the FBI, raided the home and business of freelance “stringer” Bryan Carmody in connection with the leaking of the police report, which was offered to new outlets within hours of Adachi’s Feb. 22 death.
According to police, officers and FBI agents seized documents, notes and a slew of digital devices from Carmody’s home and office, although Carmody was not ultimately arrested.
Following the raid, Carmody posted on Twitter, “This is part of a campaign to make me divulge a confidential source. I will not.”
On May 13, the Pacific Media Workers Guild, a union for communications professionals, urged the city’s Board of Supervisors, the Police Commission and District Attorney George Gascon, as well as California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, “to investigate the egregious, illegal conduct of San Francisco police officers and FBI agents.”
According to the guild, authorities held Carmody for six hours in handcuffs as they searched his home and office.
“FBI agents were present throughout this travesty and failed to warn the police officers that they were violating Carmody’s First Amendment rights; the agents were complicit in the officers’ misconduct,” the guild’s statement read.
Also on Monday, May 13, the Committee to Protect Journalists demanded that authorities return all of Carmody’s equipment immediately and that they stop trying to get him to reveal his sources.
The Radio Television Digital News Association called the raid “an unacceptable overreach by the San Francisco Police Department.”
On May 12, the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists also condemned the raid, citing California’s Shield Law, which protects journalists from being held in contempt for refusing to disclose their sources’ identities and other unpublished/unaired information obtained.
Police had been investigating who leaked the report to news outlets after a Board of Supervisors hearing into the leaks a month ago concluded that a freelance journalist had offered to sell the leaked report to news outlets for $2,500 the day Adachi died, reportedly from a heart attack.
San Francisco Public Defender Manohar Raju initially said he was “pleased” that authorities were getting to the bottom of the investigation.
On May 13, however, he said, “To be clear, I have no information regarding the justifications for the search conducted by police. Nothing about this statement should be interpreted as condoning specific police tactics in this matter.”
Carmody’s friends have started a GoFundMe page to help raise $100,000 to replace the items police confiscated.
The page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/journalist-raided-by-police-support-1st-amendment.
The investigation remains ongoing, police said.