SFPD Chief Scott turns Carmody investigation over to outside agency

In a statement released on Friday, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott Scott announced the criminal investigation of freelance journalist Bryan Carmody over the release of the Jeff Adachi police report would be turned over to an outside agency. 

The handling of the case, where Carmody's home was raided and he was later named a "co-conspirator" in the theft of the police report, is now subject to independent review outside the police department. 

  • You can read the chief's full statement here

Scott said in his statement that it was at the urging of Mayor London Breed and due to his own "top-to-bottom review" of his own department, that a impartial investigation is necessary. 

"I am specifically concerned by a lack of due diligence by department investigators in seeking search warrants and appropriately addressing Mr. Carmody’s status as a member of the news media," Scott wrote. 

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Scott told the paper he is "sorry" this happened and acknowledged the raid was likely illegal. 

Scott initially defended the raid, telling the city Police Commission his department went through the appropriate legal process. 

The handling of the case has been widely criticized by First Amendment rights advocates and fellow journalists. Mayor Breed herself had re-considered her original defense of the tactics used by SFPD in the raid and backtracked her original statements. The case has brought into question whether or not California's shield law was violated, something Scott addresses in his statement.  

"In addition to an outside agency, the Department of Police Accountability will investigate the execution of the search warrant on Mr. Carmody’s home and continue their own investigation into the unauthorized release of the police report. SFPD, under the oversight of the Police Commission, will also review its protocols involving members of the news media," Scott wrote. 

California's shield law protects journalists from search warrants and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that journalists are free to report on newsworthy information contained in stolen documents.

Because the warrants are under seal, it's not known what information police provided to support the searches or to what extent they disclosed that Carmody, a freelance stringer,  is a journalist. 

Scott said the department will not use any evidence seized in the raids.

The chief concluded that he was committed to running a transparent department after his newfound conclusions from over the last 48 hours. 

"We're encouraged by the chief's apology but we think there needs to be real reform here," Carmody's attorney, Ben Berkowitz, said. "The city needs to take steps to make sure nothing like this happens again to journalists."

Associated Press contributed to this report.