San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott defended a police raid of journalist Bryan Carmody at a Police Commission meeting at City Hall on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Police union calls on chief to resign for not standing by raid on journalist’s home

Chief Scott faces pressure to step down after acknowledging searches may have flouted state law

San Francisco’s police union demanded the resignation of Police Chief Bill Scott on Saturday after he publically apologized for raiding the home and office of a freelance journalist.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association called Scott’s admission that the raid may have violated freelancer Bryan Carmody’s First Amendment rights a “shameful display of self-preservation.”

“His apology to the media was clearly meant for him to save face as opposed to accept responsibility for his own actions,” the union said in a statement.

San Francisco Police Department executed search warrants on Carmody earlier this month while investigating the source of a leaked police report on the death of the late Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

Carmody, a longtime stringer in the region, obtained the report and sold it to several news outlets in February.

Scott at first defended the police raids but switched positions on Friday after facing criticism not only in San Francisco but across the nation. The raid was first denounced by First Amendment advocates and later by Mayor London Breed and District Attorney George Gascon.

In a statement, Scott acknowledged that the raids may have violated state law protecting journalists from having search warrants issued against them.

He also pointed to a “lack of due diligence” by the department investigators who sought the warrants.

But in its statement, the police union said Scott had directed the investigation all along.

SFPOA President Tony Montoya and the union’s executive board called for Scott to step down, citing “his complete lack of leadership regarding the investigation into leaked police department documents related to the Adachi investigation,” and calling the investigation “a righteous one.”

“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,” the POA said in the statement. “We all deserve better. “

The union insisted that whoever leaked the report “should be held accountable.” The SFPOA also said that Scott had ordered the investigation and accused him of being dishonest about his involvement.

“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,” the POA said in the statement.

A central question for critics seeking to determine the legality of the raids is whether police told the judges who signed the search warrants that Carmody was a journalist. The search warrant applications, which contain the information police showed to the judges, were filed under seal.

The SFPOA said Scott knew of Carmody’s status as a journalist and accused him of not disclosing this status to the sergeant who authored the search warrants.

“Had he done so, the Sergeant who wrote the search warrant would have followed protocols,” the SFPOA said in the statement. “The Sergeant was deceived by the Chief.”

In response to the POA’s statement, SFPD spokesperson David Stevenson said that Scott “has made it abundantly clear that transparency and accountability are paramount in this criminal investigation.”

To that end, Stevenson said that the department is at Breed’s direction seeking an “independent, impartial third party” to take over the criminal investigation. He added that the Department of Police Accountability will examine “how this case has been handled on all levels,” from the command staff “through to the Chief of Police,” in an effort to provide answers.

A request seeking comment from Breed’s office was not returned by press time.

San Francisco Superior Court judges Victor Hwang and Gail Dekreon signed the search warrants. On May 10, officers showed up with a sledgehammer to force entry into Carmody’s home.

Two weeks prior to the raid, Carmody said that he was interviewed by police about the leak, but refused to give up his source.

Carmody has maintained that he was acting in his role as a journalist when he sold the Adachi report to three television stations in February.

Last week, Carmody’s lawyer and a First Amendment group filed motions in court to invalidate the warrants and unseal the search warrant applications.

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

Correction: This story has been revised to remove a reference to the FBI participanting in executing search warrants on Carmody. According to the FBI, agents interviewed Carmody, but did not help execute the warrants.

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