The chief of the San Francisco Police Department apologized on Friday for a police raid at the home of a Bay Area freelance journalist in an effort to discover his confidential sources.
“I’m sorry that this happened,” the chief, William Scott, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “I’m sorry to the people of San Francisco. I’m sorry to the mayor. We have to fix it. We know there were some concerns in that investigation and we know we have to fix it.”
The freelance journalist, Bryan Carmody, was targeted by the police in May after his reporting on the death of Jeff Adachi, a public defender, was used by local news outlets.
Mr. Carmody reported to the local television stations that Mr. Adachi had collapsed in front of a woman who was not his wife, information that he got from a police report that had not been publicly released.
In an attempt to find out who gave Mr. Carmody the police report, the police obtained a search warrant, raided his apartment and held him in handcuffs for six hours.
“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,” Chief Scott said in a statement separate from his comments to The Chronicle. “This has raised important questions about our handling of this case and whether the California shield law was violated.”
Mr. Carmody declined to comment, but his lawyer, Ben Berkowitz, said in a statement that he hoped journalists around the country would not get used to this kind of behavior by the authorities.
“It is a troubling and alarming time for journalists in this country,” he said. “They have, unfortunately, grown all too accustomed to daily assaults on their profession. The principle at stake here is one that is fundamental to our democracy — the press must be free to investigate and report without fear of police intimidation.”
Chief Scott said the Police Department would conduct an “independent, impartial investigation by a separate investigatory body” at the request of Mayor London Breed on the unauthorized release of the police report. The department will also review its protocols involving journalists.
Read the full report here.