AP

Police to return property seized from San Francisco reporter

May 21, 2019, 12:51 PM
In this May 10, 2019, image from video provided by Bryan Carmody San Francisco police armed with sl...
In this May 10, 2019, image from video provided by Bryan Carmody San Francisco police armed with sledgehammers execute a search warrant at journalist Bryan Carmody's home in San Francisco. The San Francisco reporter is seeking the return of property after police raided his home, as officials sought to determine the source of a leaked police report into the death of the city's public defender. An attorney for Carmody will make the request Tuesday, May 21 in San Francisco County Superior Court. (Bryan Carmody/@bryancarmody via AP)
(Bryan Carmody/@bryancarmody via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco journalist whose equipment was seized in a police raid will get back his property, a police attorney said Tuesday at a court hearing, but that did not resolve larger issues in the case that alarmed journalism advocates.

Authorities have said the May 10 raids of freelancer Bryan Carmody’s home and office were part of a criminal investigation into what police called the illegal release of a report on the death of former Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who died unexpectedly in February.

But media organizations across the country criticized the raids as a violation of California’s shield law, which specifically protects journalists from search warrants. The Associated Press is among dozens of news organizations siding with Carmody and seeking to submit a friend-of-the-court brief.

Police voluntarily agreed to return Carmody’s property, but the case will soon be back in court. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Samuel Feng set dates to hear requests by media organizations to unseal affidavits and revoke search warrants signed by judges.

City supervisors scolded police for anonymously leaking the report to the press, saying it was an attempt to smear the legacy of Adachi, who frequently sparred with police. An autopsy blamed Adachi’s Feb. 22 death on a mixture of cocaine and alcohol that compromised an already bad heart.

People who want to crack down on journalists come in all political stripes, said Jim Wheaton, founder of the First Amendment Project, a public interest law firm. It did not surprise him that police raided a freelancer in politically liberal San Francisco.

“They went after him because he’s all by himself,” Wheaton said. “And the fact that he sells the materials that he packages. He puts together a journalism report including documents and sells it. That’s what journalism is.”

It was unclear who is paying Carmody’s legal fees. His attorney, Thomas Burke, declined to comment.

San Francisco police have defended the May 10 raids in which they seized computers, cellphones and cameras. Police attorney Ronnie Wagner declined to answer further questions Tuesday as reporters followed her down a courthouse staircase.

Mayor London Breed initially defended the raids but on Sunday posted messages on Twitter saying she was “not okay” with raids on reporters. District Attorney George Gascon said he has not seen the warrants, which are sealed, but he could not imagine a situation where warrants would be appropriate.

“Seizing the entire haystack to find the needle risks violating the confidences Mr. Carmody owes to all his sources, not just the person who leaked the police report,” he said in a Monday tweet.

The city attorney’s office did not send an attorney, and spokesman John Cote said the office is “not appearing in court on that matter.”

The First Amendment Coalition wants the judge to unseal the police department’s applications for two search warrants, which would show whether officers informed judges that Carmody is a journalist.

In court documents, Carmody has said he is a veteran journalist who is often the first on the scene of breaking news. He provides video news packages to outlets in return for payment.

He sold copies of the Adachi police report along with video footage from the scene of his death and information obtained from interviews to three news stations.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

A Navy soldier stands guard as authorities wait for the arrival of people who were evacuated from t...
Associated Press

Tropical Storm Colin brings rain to Carolinas, weakens

Tropical Storm Colin formed along the coast on Saturday. Conditions are expected to improve by Monday's Fourth of July celebrations.
1 day ago
A female bison and calf are seen near the Yellowstone River in Wyoming's Hayden Valley, on Wednesda...
Mark Jones

2nd visitor in 3 days gored by Yellowstone National Park bison

In less than a week, two visitors to Yellowstone National Park have been gored by bison. Park officials say to stay at least 25 yards away from a bison.
3 days ago
Travelers wait in for a TSA security check at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles,...
DAVID KOENIG ASSOCIATED PRESS

Pre-pandemic sized crowds descend on US airports for holiday

TSA is reporting crowds of pre-pandemic size are traveling this Independence Day.
3 days ago
Residents stand in front of building destroyed by missiles in Ukraine...
FRANCESCA EBEL Associated Press

Russian missiles kill at least 19 in Ukraine’s Odesa region

The Ukrainian president's office said three Kh-22 missiles fired by Russian bombers struck an apartment building and a campsite.
3 days ago
Ketanji Brown Jackson takes the oath for the Supreme Court....
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Jackson sworn in, becomes 1st Black woman on Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, will be sworn as the court's 116th justice Thursday, just as the man she is replacing, Justice Stephen Breyer, retires.
4 days ago
The Supreme Court is pictured. The court just limited the EPA...
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions

The Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation's main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Police to return property seized from San Francisco reporter