A freelance journalist is vowing to protect his source after San Francisco police raided his home and office while keeping him handcuffed for several hours as part of a criminal investigation.
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Bryan Carmody told the Los Angeles Times officers banged on his door on Friday and confiscated dozens of personal items including notebooks and his cellphone, computer, hard drives and cameras. A judge signed off on search warrants which stated officers were investigating “stolen or embezzled” property, the newspaper reported.
Authorities said the raid came during an ongoing investigation into who leaked a confidential police report about the death on 22 February of San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi.
Carmody said investigators had asked him a few weeks earlier to identify the source that gave him the report. The reporter said he politely declined.
While he was shackled, officers got a second warrant to search his newsroom, where they seized a thumb drive, CDs and, inside a safe, the leaked police report, the Times said.
Carmody, 49, said he has not shared the name of his source with anyone and no markings on the document could be traced to the person who provided it. To the reporter and his attorney, the raid was an invasion into the work of a professional reporter.
“It’s designed to intimidate,” said Carmody's lawyer, Thomas Burke. “It’s essentially the confiscation of a newsroom.”
The incident provided a new twist in the story of the unexpected death of Adachi, who left behind a legacy of championing civil rights. Initial reports said the 59-year-old elected official had been traveling when he suddenly had a heart attack.
Carmody said that while trying to figure out exactly where Adachi died, salacious details began emerging that were difficult to confirm.
“There were leaks happening all over the place,” he recalled. He ultimately obtained an incident report that detailed Adachi’s final moments.
The San Francisco Chronicle also obtained a copy of the report, but not from Carmody. The document, as reported by KGO-TV in San Francisco, said that shortly before his death Adachi had dinner with a woman named “Caterina” who was not his wife, then returned to an apartment he arranged to use for the weekend.
The woman called 911 and Adachi was taken to hospital, where he died. Later that night, officers went to the apartment and found “alcohol, cannabis-infused gummies and syringes believed to have been used by the paramedics”, the Chronicle reported. Photos of the apartment were circulated online by KTVU-TV and other outlets. Carmody told the Chronicle he sold his news package on Adachi to three TV stations.
City officials criticized police for allowing the details of a confidential report to end up in the headlines. The police launched an internal investigation into the report’s leaking, which led to the raid at Carmody’s home.
“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 said in a statement to the Times.
The affidavits used to search Carmody’s home were filed under seal, so it is unclear what investigators told the judge to secure the warrants. Carmody is insisting on protecting his source’s identity. And he swears he never paid the person for the police report.
“No,” he told the Times. “Not even a cup of coffee.”