San Francisco Police Union Steps Up To Criticize Police Chief Over His Handling Of The Leak Investigation

from the seems-to-be-OK-with-raiding-a-journalist's-home,-though dept

This is fantastic. Not in the way something amazing and pure is fantastic, but fantastic in the way that only an oft-maligned profession feeding on itself can be. It could be lawyers or debt collectors or Instagram influencers. In this case, it's law enforcement.

Someone in the San Francisco Police Department tried to disparage a dead public defender/police critic by leaking a police report on his death. The person apparently on the receiving end -- stringer Bryan Carmody -- shopped it to a few local journalists. The SFPD decided the leak investigation should wend its way through Carmody's house. So, officers raided his place and walked off with $10,000-worth of laptops, phones, tablets, and other electronics.

Sidestepping the state's journalist shield law has not worked out well for the SFPD. After some momentary commiseration from San Francisco public officials, the SFPD is now surrounded by critics. And it's not just the normal critics. Even the District Attorney has publicly stated he doesn't see how this search could possibly have legal -- a surprising turn of events considering most prosecutors tend to support the local PD (or stay silent) when the PD fucks things up.

The chief of police has also issued an official apology for the actions of the officers he oversees. Chief Bill Scott turned over the leak investigation to an outside department and said the warrant obtained to search the journalist's home lacked "clarity" and was "concerning."

This public statement has led to criticism from another surprising source: the local police union. The SF Police Officers Association is unhappy -- not because of the raid itself, which it has no comment on -- but because Chief Scott threw officers under the bus rather than take responsibility for an investigation he was directly overseeing.

Yesterday, SFPD Chief William Scott showed everyone in the SFPD, and all San Franciscans, what his character consists of and it was a pathetic, deceitful and shameful display of self-preservation, finger pointing, and political kowtowing. We all deserve better.

The investigation into whomever disseminated the initial Adachi police report is a righteous one and whomever is responsible should be held accountable. What we know is that Chief Scott ordered that investigation. Chief Scott not only followed every twist and turn of the investigation but he knew every element of the investigation, directed the investigation and has clearly either come down with the most debilitating case of amnesia or is flat out not telling the truth about his direct involvement and the horribly flawed direction he gave to find the leak of the police report.

In either case, it is time for Chief Scott to go.

At least the union has gone on record that the officer who leaked the report should be punished. This will come in handy when the PD does decide to punish that person and the union inevitably starts protesting whatever punishment is handed down. But it's on point in its criticism of Chief Scott. If he was directly overseeing this, he had a chance to stop it before it became a national embarrassment.

Thus endeth the things I agree with here. The SFPOA remains wrong in its assessment of what's happening now. It claims turning this investigation over to an outside agency is a "diversion" and that Chief Scott should a.) be investigated, and b.) have the courtesy to resign before the investigation is over. Somehow, the SFPOA believes the PD -- with its untrustworthy Chief and its leaky officers -- should be trusted to police itself.

There will likely be additional angry statements from the police union as this investigation rolls on. The SF Chronicle reports a bunch of search warrants were served in this case, most of them targeting people the union never wants to see targeted by search warrants.

San Francisco police executed seven search warrants as they tried to find out who leaked a police report to a freelance journalist, including searches of officers and one of the journalist’s phone records, police officials and an attorney in the case said.

The search of phone records preceded the now-notorious May 10 raids on journalist Bryan Carmody’s home and office.

New info -- none of which is making the SFPD or its leadership look any better -- continues to trickle out. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions, as Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation points out. Many have to do with the warrant Chief Scott apparently approved, but couldn't recall the details of until everyone in the country was asking questions. It certainly seems the warrant wouldn't have been approved if judges knew it targeted a journalist, so there's a good chance this warrant contains crucial omissions or flat-out lies.

But the SFPD wasn't the only agency involved in the raid, detention, and questioning of Brian Carmody. The feds stepped in and the Freedom of the Press Foundation has its own list of unanswered questions:

  • Why did the FBI attempt to conduct an interview of Carmody after his house had been raided?

  • Why was the FBI involved in this case at all, since it dealt with a local matter?

  • Did the FBI follow its own guidelines involving an investigation into a member of the media?

  • Did the FBI gain access to Carmody’s equipment following its seizure and if so, did they search it, too?

As slowly as this is developing, it's likely the answer to these questions are many, many months away. This has made headlines around the nation over the past couple of weeks and the SFPD has yet to release the search warrant affidavit publicly. It has only recently gotten around to admitting the raid was likely unlawful.

The PD won't be able to keep everyone in the dark forever. The affidavit will be published eventually and then everyone else can see the stuff the police chief called "concerning" and "unclear." It will probably be both, but the public's unlikely to use these vague euphemisms. Until then, we can all enjoy the small amount of pleasure from watching the San Francisco law enforcement community attack itself, rather than members of the public.

Filed Under: bill scott, bryan carmody, journalism, police, sf poa, sfpd, warrants


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 31 May 2019 @ 3:16pm

    Ok I will concede the point, it wasn't a slow slide into it... it was a rocket ride into the totalitarian state.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      AnonyOps, 31 May 2019 @ 4:11pm

      Re:

      It's an unlawful use of commerce and it's tax and fraud against the government:

      "Under the Commerce Clause which was designed to allow Congress to regulate interstate economic matters, and not as a front for Congress to promote a particular moral vision under the guise of economic regulation. ... Ultimately, supporters prevailed, and Congress passed Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Commerce Clause has been hi-jacked to serve the fraud of criminal abductors and violate the law with official oppression. An unlawful use of revenue is transparent." The collection of fines and fees and remuneration for crimes or civil matters (note: read the entire sections for specific catch all violations of law in regard to Tax Fraud).

      See: 18 U.S. Code § 245 - Federally protected activities a(1) (2), b 2(E)
      18 U.S. Code § 241 - Conspiracy against rights
      18 U.S. Code § 242 - Deprivation of rights under color of law
      26 U.S. Code § 7214 - Offenses by officers and employees of the United States a (4 thru 9)

      Violations are to be notifiable to the TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau) of the applicable jurisdiction of the United States Federal Government or to the state to which the violation(s) occurred. They are hoping that you do not know these facts.

      See:

      27 CFR 70.333 - Offenses by officers and employees of the United States.

      See: 2 U.S. Code § 192 - Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers

      In the legal criminal framework, one must have mens rea, actus reus and corpus de licti. The guilty mind, guilty action and an accuser who was harmed in violation of the penal code on a charging document within jurisdiction that appears in violation the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th, 13th, 14th Amendment to the constitution.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 31 May 2019 @ 3:48pm

    At least the union has gone on record that the officer who leaked the report should be punished. This will come in handy when the PD does decide to punish that person and the union inevitably starts protesting whatever punishment is handed down.

    Uh, the union is absolutely not going to protest any disciplinary action taken against the leaker.

    They will, of course, spend a lot of political capital to protect those who ran the raid, set up the raid, and authorized the raid. The leaker will be left to hang.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      wshuff (profile), 1 Jun 2019 @ 5:53am

      Re:

      Are you certain about that? Because the comment says that the leaker should be held accountable, not punished. That could mean the union thinks the leaker should be given a commendation. Maybe even a promotion. Hey, they're advocating for the chief to go. Maybe they already have the perfect person to fill those shoes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Agammamon, 31 May 2019 @ 3:51pm

    It certainly seems the warrant wouldn't have been approved if judges knew it targeted a journalist, so there's a good chance this warrant contains crucial omissions or flat-out lies.

    Which is incredibly fucked up as the warrant should not have been approved even if the target was not a journalist and was just some scumbag out to make a buck shopping gossip around. But I repeat myself;)

    Seriously though - people need to stop thinking or even talking like there's a legal distinction between 'journalist' and 'everyone else'. There isn't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 May 2019 @ 4:06pm

      Re:

      who specifically signed the warrant for the Carmody raid ?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 31 May 2019 @ 4:50pm

      Re:

      Then, I ask, where do the Journalist Shield laws come from? I am not saying your wrong, but there is legislation in several states that protect the act of Journalism differently than other acts.

      Now I do not know if those legislation's define who a journalist is or isn't, and I agree that any citizen could be defined as a Journalist merely on their conduct, but how do we tell that to the cop on the street who doesn't know nor is required to know the law?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Agammamon, 2 Jun 2019 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re:

        If the shield laws don't specify - then the cop on the street should know that anyone who is gathering news is protected. Yes, even the dude in pajamas reblogging.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 31 May 2019 @ 6:21pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LAHeat, 31 May 2019 @ 8:23pm

    So SFPD Officers violate the Shield Law, con two judges with false affidavits conveniently neglecting to identify the location being searched as belonging to a journalist and you expect the chief to “cover” for the officers? I think not. That’s not the chiefs job. The involved officers knew exactly what they were doing and even by passed the DAs office for approval. The officers committed misconduct and need to be charged as such and after a thorough investigation, make a determination as to culpability and render a decision as to penalty. I do not want a chief that covers his officers misconduct.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2019 @ 8:54am

      Re:

      ... and, of course, now that there is widespread condemnation, the PD union sees the police chief as a convenient scapegoat. Not a lily white one, but still someone to unload guilt onto.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 May 2019 @ 9:00pm

    out_of_the_blue is not going to like this, is he?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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