Police chief who led raid on small Kansas newspaper suspended – News21USA

Kansas Newspaper Raid (News21USA) : The police chief who led a widely criticized raid on a small Kansas newspaper has been suspended, the mayor confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday.

Marion Mayor Dave Mayfield said in a text message that he suspended Chief Gideon Cody on Thursday. He declined to discuss his decision further and did not say whether Cody was still being paid.

AP voicemails and emails seeking comment from Cody’s attorneys were not immediately returned Saturday.

The Aug. 11 searches at the Marion County Recorder’s office and at the homes of its editor and a City Council member have been heavily criticized, putting Marion at the center of a debate over press protections that offers the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Cody’s suspension is a change for the mayor, who previously said he would wait for the results of a state police investigation before taking action.

Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel, whose home was also raided on Aug. 11, praised Cody’s suspension as “the best thing that can happen to Marion right now” as the central Kansas city of about 1,900 residents struggles to move forward under the spotlight national.

“We can’t hang our heads until it goes away, because it won’t go away until we do something about it,” Herbel said.

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Cody has said little publicly since the raids, other than posting a defense of them on the police department’s Facebook page. In court papers he filed to obtain the search warrants, he argued that he had probable cause to believe that the newspaper and Herbel, whose home was also raided, had violated state laws against identity theft or computer crimes.

The raids came after the owner of a local restaurant accused the newspaper of illegally accessing information about her. A spokesman for the agency that maintains those records has said that a journalist’s online search of the newspaper was probably legal even though the journalist needed personal information about the restaurant’s owner that an informant provided to him to search his history driving.

The newspaper’s publisher, Eric Meyer, has said the identity theft allegations simply provided a convenient excuse for the search after his reporters had been probing for information about the background of Cody, who was named this summer.

Legal experts believe the raid on the newspaper violated a federal privacy law or a state law that protects journalists from having to identify sources or turn over unpublished material to authorities.

Video of the raid on publisher Eric Meyer’s home shows how distraught his 98-year-old mother was as officers searched her belongings. Meyer said he believes stress contributed to the death of his mother, Joan Meyer, a day later.

Last month, another journalist filed a federal lawsuit against the police chief over the raid.

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