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San Francisco police chief apologizes for raid on journalist's home

San Francisco police chief Chief William Scott on Friday apologized for a raid on a freelance journalist's home which sparked national criticism, CBS San Francisco reports. The raid at the home and office of stringer journalist Bryan Carmody on May 10 was in connection to a leaked police report which detailed the death of late San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

The information was reportedly sold to local news outlets for $2,500 hours after Adachi died on Feb. 22 from a heart attack. Scott said the search warrant came after city leaders demanded that the leak be investigated during a Board of Supervisors' hearing last month.

Scott made his apology during an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

"I'm sorry that this happened. I'm sorry to the people of San Francisco. I'm sorry to the mayor," he said in the interview. "We have to fix it. We know there were some concerns in that investigation and we know we have to fix it."

The chief also released a statement saying he had conducted over the past few days a thorough review of the Adachi report criminal investigation, the leak and the police report.  

Jeff Adachi
2009 file photo of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The case alarmed journalism advocates and put pressure on elected leaders in the politically liberal city to defend the press. 

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

On Tuesday, Scott said Carmody "crossed the line" and suspected the journalist took part in a criminal conspiracy to steal an internal police report, motivated by profit or animosity toward Adachi.

Carmody said he did not pay for the report or conspire to steal it but simply acquired it as part of his work as a journalist.

Mayor London Breed had requested the independent probe into the way police handled the investigation into the leak and the internal affairs investigation, which could lead to discipline for officers.

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

"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 said in the release. "This has raised important questions about our handling of this case and whether the California shield law was violated."

Besides the investigation by an external agency, the Department of Police Accountability will investigate the execution of the search warrant on Carmody's home and continue their own investigation into the unauthorized release of the police report.

"Journalists and everyone in our City deserve a police department that will maintain the constitutional rights of all," said Scott in the release.

Breed released a statement saying he was "glad" Scott acknowledged "mistakes and apologized." 

"But I remain deeply disappointed by the actions taken in this case up to today," Breed said. "This is unacceptable and we have to do better," the statement read in part. "The actions being taken today are the right thing for the Department and for the City. We have to restore the trust among the Department, the public, and the media. An independent and free press is essential in our city and our society."

A statement from Thomas Burke, the attorney for Bryan Carmody, said that it was "encouraging that Chief Scott acknowledged the illegality of the searches."

Burke said his office was sent a copy of Chief Scott's statement, but they have not received any other communication from police.

Earlier this week, an attorney for the Police Department said that Carmody would be getting back his property that was taken in the raid.

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