Marion, Kansas, Police Chief Gideon Cody, who led a raid on a small Kansas newspaper in August, has resigned.
City Council Member Ruth Herbel confirmed to The Associated Press that the mayor of Marion announced Cody’s resignation on Monday, just days after he was suspended from his post. Mayor David Mayfield had previously defended Cody and said he would not take any action until the Kansas Bureau of Investigation finished looking into the raids, The Wichita Eagle reports. For reasons not made public, the mayor suspended the chief indefinitely last Thursday.
In mid-August, in a town of fewer than 2,000 people, Cody and his team descended on the Marion County Record newspaper office and took cellphones, computers, hard drives — even utility records. They also went to the home of Eric Meyer, the owner and publisher of the paper, made copies of bank statements and took a personal computer, allegedly looking for information linking a local business owner and her DUI arrest.
The day after the raid, the founder of the paper, Eric Meyer’s 98-year old mother, collapsed and died, something Eric blames on the raid.
The raid produced an immediate outcry. More than 30 news organizations and press freedom advocates, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, signed a letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press condemning the raid, calling it “overbroad, improperly intrusive and possibly in violation of federal law.”
At the time, Seth Stern, director of advocacy for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told the AP that “the raid appeared to have violated federal law, the First Amendment ‘and basic human decency.’
“The anti-press rhetoric that’s become so pervasive in this country has become more than just talk and is creating a dangerous environment for journalists trying to do their jobs,” Stern said.
Within days, Joel Ensey, the Marion County attorney, said there was insufficient evidence to link the alleged crime and the items seized. The items taken were then returned, and the FBI began an investigation.
Not about a DUI?
Meyer. the newspaper’s editorr, said he believes the raid was carried out because the police chief left the Kansas City police department in April and the Marion County Record had begun an investigation as to why. The Kansas City Star reported that Cody “faced discipline for allegedly making insulting and sexist comments to a female officer, who recorded a following conversation in which he acknowledged his behavior was unprofessional.” She filed a hostile work environment complaint against him in the months before he left Kansas City. Following an internal investigation, writes the Star, he was told he would be demoted to sergeant. Instead, he resigned and went to work in Marion County.
The Associated Press reports that Cody’s departure came after the AP obtained body camera footage of the raid through an open records request. The body camera video came through on Monday, the same day Cody resigned.
City Councilwoman Herbel said after Monday’s city council meeting that she was glad he resigned. “Now we can start to move forward as a community.”
Holly Richardson is the editor of Utah Policy