2 Investigates has obtained the release of San Francisco city emails regarding the search of a videographer’s home to find out who might have leaked him an unflattering police report about the death of the city’s public defender.
The California Public Request sought all electronic communications sent to and from the Office of Mayor London Breed and to and from Police Chief Bill Scott from May 10 – the day the home and office of news videographer Bryan Carmody – was searched in an attempt to find out who gave him a police report the day after Jeff Adachi died in February. First Amendment advocates say that the search violated the California shield law, which protects journalists from revealing their sources. The police chief, Bill Scott, later apologized for the searches and conceded in writing that the search may have violated the law.
Carmody still refuses to say who he got the police report from and he insists he never paid the source for information. He did sell the report though to three TV stations. KTVU bought a copy and regularly pays Carmody for his work, tips and video. The report indicated Adachi was with a woman who wasn’t his wife when he died, and showed a messy bed and alcohol bottles in the room where he died. The Medical Examiner ultimately ruled Adachi - a critic of the police department – died of heart problems and had cocaine and alcohol in his system.
What the release of emails shows:
* Mayor London Breed did not email or text anyone about the issue, according to the documents provided to 2 Investigates. If she did send any electronic communications, they were not provided under a California Public Records Request.
* Seven citizens wrote the mayor between May 10 and June 6, all to condemn the raid. However, on May 17, her staff said the mayor’s office was getting about five emails a day about the subject. As one examples of an email Breed received, Sandra Sticker, a citizen, wrote: “The raid was a complete miscarriage of justice. This is not Russia or North Korea.”
Many, including media outlets, called on Breed to speak out more forcibly against the search. On May 19, Breed issued a statement saying that as much as she wants a thorough investigation into the Adachi leak, a "free and independent press plays a critical role in our society and we have to work harder to honor not only the letter of California's shield law, but also the spirit of it."
* Scott, the chief, emailed California Chief Deputy Attorney General Sean McCluskie to investigate the theft of Adachi’s police report, acknowledging that California shield law “may have been violated in serving search warrants associated with Mr. Carmody due to his status as a news reporter.” On May 27, McCluskie responded, “We will take a look.”
As of Tuesday, the Attorney General’s Office did not respond as to whether anyone is actually leading an investigation. This information about the Department of Justice was obtained through a separate Public Records Request sent by the First Amendment Coalition, which 2 Investigates reviewed.
According to the documents released to KTVU, Scott also did not email or text any colleagues or anyone at City Hall about the search. His staff sent emails, mostly news statements, to reporters asking questions about the case, emails show.
As for the status of Carmody’s cas, -- whether or not the search on his home, office and cell phone were legal -- is still being litigated on several fronts.
Attorney Thomas Burke is trying to get the search warrants quashed in civil court.
And First Amendment Coalition attorney David Snyder is trying to unseal the affidavits, or statements of probable cause, explaining the reason for the search. It is not known if the judges who signed the warrants knew Carmody was a journalist.
The case was recently reassigned to San Francisco Superior Court Judge Samuel K. Feng, who ordered Snyder to send individual motions to each of the five judges who signed the warrants. Individual hearings will have to be held on each search.
“It's really frustrating,” Snyder said. “The problem here is that these records should have been made public already. And the public right of access continues to be denied. We’re running into a wall on this.”
KTVU's Simone Aponte contributed to this report.