On May 10th, police raided the home of San Francisco freelance reporter Bryan Carmody, who had refused to identify a source in a story about the death of a longtime city public defender.
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, 59, died suddenly in February. An ABC article said only that, “Adachi was dining with a friend in North Beach when he became ill. After dinner, he had difficulty breathing and then stopped breathing. EMTs worked on him for 20 mins. He died later at California Pacific Medical Center.”
He appeared to be a popular figure. An article from ABC7 said, “employees at the San Francisco Public Defender’s office were showing up in tears, shocked about the sudden passing of their boss Jeff Adachi.”
Several days later, according to ABC7, they had obtained a copy of the police incidence report which said, Adachi had been dining with a “woman who was not his wife, then died of an apparent cocaine overdose.” ABC7 reported:
The incident report obtained by the ABC7 I-Team says “a female who identified herself as ‘Caterina'” called 911 from the home on Telegraph Place near Coit Tower at 5:41pm, and police responded. But the officers, now en route, were called off by the Medical Examiner’s Office who told them they “did not have reason to believe (it was) a crime scene but the death was still under investigation.
Officers deemed that to be suspicious, so they continued to the ground floor apartment, where they took pictures and spoke with witnesses.
One woman told police she had known Adachi for ten years, and that when he asked to use the apartment she gave him the keys. That same woman told police she received a call from Caterina, who “sounded hysterical and told her something was wrong with Jeff.”
Caterina said she had been to dinner with Adachi when he complained of stomach pains, so they took an Uber back to the apartment. There, he became unresponsive and she called for help on his phone.
The police photos show the apartment interior, an unmade bed, empty bottles of alcohol, cannabis gummies, and two syringes that may have been left by paramedics.
Needless to say, city officials are anxious to find out who leaked the report to the press.
(Note: A CNN report said “Adachi had had a famously contentious relationship with the San Francisco Police Department, leading many to suspect that the report had been leaked to exact revenge against his name and legacy.”)
Two weeks prior to the raid, Carmody said he had been asked by SFPD officers how he had obtained a copy of the police report, but he refused to identify his source.
Carmody described the raid. He said “authorities knocked down the gate of his home with a sledgehammer, handcuffed him for hours and seized thousands of dollars in electronics after he refused to identify a confidential source.”
The San Francisco Examiner reports:
“They have completely shut down my business,” said Carmody, who has operated as an independent stringer for Bay Area and national television stations, including Fox News, CNBC and CBS Evening news.
Carmody accused police of “intimidation” to “make me break my [journalistic] ethics.”
“I’m refusing to give up my source,” he said.
A San Francisco Police Department spokesperson defended their action in a statement Friday, saying that the warrant was granted by a judge and the raid was “part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the leak of the Adachi police report.”
The L.A. Times reports:
“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 Saturday to The Times.
The city’s public defender’s office, which Adachi once led, said in a statement that “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.”
It sure sounds like city officials think the actions taken by law enforcement are justified. But, you can be sure that if Trump’s DOJ had used similar tactics to get answers to the many questions surrounding the origins of the Russia collusion case, they would be the first to object. They would call him a thug and condemn his “Gestapo” behavior.
This story has been curiously underreported and I was happily surprised to see a member of the mainstream media come out against this conduct.
CNN’s Yashar Ali published an op-ed today about this case. Basically, he’s asking “Where is the outrage?” He wrote:
The San Francisco raid was a stunning intrusion on press freedom, similar to what we see in autocratic regimes. Legal experts believe it is also a violation of the California shield law, which protects journalists from being forced to reveal confidential sources. What happened Friday threatens to have a chilling effect on confidential sources who share critical, newsworthy information with reporters.
Kudos to Ali. Anyone else?
— Bryan C. Carmody (@bryanccarmody) May 11, 2019