San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott tried to offer up rationale Tuesday for aggressively raiding journalist Bryan Carmody’s home and office to uncover a source, as his department comes under fire for seemingly infringing on Carmody’s First Amendment rights.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Scott tried to float that idea that Carmody was a participant in a conspiracy to obtain the government document, despite the fact that outlets of all stripes routinely obtain leaked records.
“We believe that…an SFPD employee was a part of this,” he said. “We believe that in order for this to be successfully pulled off, there had to be some contact between the employee and Mr. Carmody…we believe he was part of the effort to illegally obtain this report.”
At the same time, he contradicted himself saying that “leaks happen all the time” and “I understand a journalist can receive reports.”
Carmody said that he could not comment on the situation until he speaks to his “now criminal” attorney. He had obtained a police report containing some salacious details of the death of Jeff Adachi, a San Francisco public defender, and sold it to local television stations as part of his work as a freelancer. When he wouldn’t divulge his source to the police, they tried to beat down his door with a sledgehammer.
But as David Snyder of the First Amendment Coalition previously told TPM, California in particular enjoys sweeping protections for journalists and their sources and specifically coverage in the case of a search warrant to try to uncover an anonymous source.
Snyder’s group has reportedly filed a motion to unseal the search warrant police used to search Carmody’s properties and confiscate many of his electronics and records.
Read TPM’s deep dive on this story here.