San Francisco police can’t seem to crack down on drug users or public poopers, but they can certainly bring out the force when they see a real threat: Journalists.
Journalist Bryan Carmody had obtained a confidential police report showing that public defender Jeff Adachi died not from a sudden heart attack, as initially reported, but after a drug-fueled night in an apartment with a woman other than his wife, named “Caterina.” The medical examiner eventually ruled Adachi died from an overdose of cocaine and alcohol. The news was difficult to read because Adachi was a champion of civil rights, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The citizens and leaders of the City of San Francisco have demanded a complete and thorough investigation into this leak, and this action represents a step in the process of investigating a potential case of obstruction of justice along with the illegal distribution of confidential police material,” police spokesman David Stevenson told the Times.
Adachi’s former office also released a statement saying, “All of the criminal justice and City Hall leaders agree that the release of police reports in this fashion is wrong and we hope that the truth of who leaked the police report will emerge so that it doesn’t happen again.”
After Carmody reported the truth about Adachi’s death, he told the Times that two police officers “cordially” asked him to reveal who had provided him the confidential police report.
“Of course, I politely declined,” Carmody said of the police visit in April.
On Friday, more police showed up at Carmody’s home — this time with guns and a sledgehammer. He told the Times he was awoken by the sound of police trying to break down his front gate with the sledgehammer. He said there were eight to 10 officers whom he wouldn’t allow into his home without a search warrant.
But the police came prepared. A judge had signed off on a warrant allowing police to search Carmody’s residence. They did so, with guns drawn and wearing bullet-proof vests.
“I knew what they wanted,” the journalist told The Times. “They wanted the name.”
Police handcuffed Carmody for six hours and seized his “notebooks, computers, cameras, phones and even his fiancee’s iPod from her college days,” the Times reported.
The search warrant, reviewed by the Times, said it pertained to “stolen or embezzled” property. While in custody, a second warrant was issued — this one for Carmody’s newsroom. There, “police seized a thumb drive, CDs and, inside a safe, the sought-after police report about Adachi’s death,” according to the Times.
Carmody refused to give up the source and told the Times that the document could not be traced back to the person who gave it to him. He was even interviewed by two FBI agents.
Thomas Burke, Carmody’s attorney, told the Times that in these kinds of situations journalists would normally receive a subpoena for specific information, but the way this case was handled was “designed to intimidate.”
“It’s essentially the confiscation of a newsroom,” Burke told the Times.
Carmody said police seized about $30,000 to $40,000 worth of equipment, crippling his business.