SFPD “Shakedown” of 4th Estate in arrest of credentialed reporter

The unfolding story of the San Francisco Police Department vicious smear of the late Public Defender immediately following his death in February 2019 is gradually coming to light. First, the SFPD leaked a copy of its own report to a local journalist. Then the SFPD arrested and tried to have prosecuted the person to whom the report was leaked to cover their proverbial asses following a public uproar.

Breaking News 4.15.2019

San Francisco Examiner 7.23.2019

Newly unsealed records confirmed Tuesday that police stopped short of telling a judge that the subject of an investigation into a leaked incident report on the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi was a journalist.

Sgt. Joseph Obidi only provided Judge Rochelle East with a brief job description lifted from Carmody’s LinkedIn page that did not explicitly refer to him as a journalist. Obidi then stated that Carmody was not employed by “any of the news organizations that obtained the death investigation report.”

David Snyder, director of the First Amendment Coalition, which sought to unseal the warrant, said the language Obidi used in the application could be read as police trying to explain Carmody is not a journalist.

Snyder said the documents showed the investigation “started and ended with journalists.”

“They (SFPD) were shaking down the fourth estate to get the information they thought they needed,” Snyder said.

SFPD Journalist Bust II 7.23.2019

In an application to review the phone records of freelance journalist Bryan Carmody, a police sergeant did not disclose to San Francisco Superior Court Judge Rochelle East that Carmody had a police-issued press credential.

East struck down the warrant last Thursday and ordered the unsealing of the application. The judge found that the warrant violated the California Shield Law, which protects the unpublished material of journalists from being obtained through a search warrant.

Thomas Burke, an attorney for Carmody, said he does not blame the judge for issuing the search warrant. Burke blames the San Francisco Police Department for not telling East that Carmody was a journalist.

“She did not understand that he was a journalist,” said Burke, who asked East to invalidate the search warrant. “I don’t think you can fault a judge for knowing one thing or another if they are not told that by law enforcement.”

The warrant was the first of five that police obtained against Carmody. In May, police raids on Carmody’s home and office raised press freedom concerns.


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