SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco Police Commission issued a strong statement of support Sunday for Chief William Scott, who is immersed in controversy surrounding his investigation of leaks tied to the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi and the raid on a journalist’s home.
A day after the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association called on Scott to resign, the commission was equally strong calling for the chief to remain on the job.
“Chief Scott did what is rare for police chiefs: he apologized to the citizens of San Francisco,” the statement read. “He did so completely and unequivocally. That is the mark of a leader. Mayor Breed made the right decision in calling for an independent investigation. The Adachi matter raises serious issues for San Francisco. We will not comment further, and we eagerly await the results of that investigation.”
The commission called Scott “a person of high integrity.”
“The Chief has shown himself to be committed to reform and has done a lot to lead SFPD in the right direction,” the statement read. “We would like to see him continue the great reform work he has started.”
Accusing Scott of a “pathetic, deceitful and shameful display of self-preservation,” Tony Montoya, head of the Police Officers’ Association, said the chief ordered the May 10 raid on the home of journalist Bryan Carmody.
“(Chief Scott) defended the search warrant in a trial balloon press release just days ago and when that balloon exploded he flip-flopped to being opposed to the search warrant,” Montoya said.
Carmody, a freelance journalist, was targeted by San Francisco police in May after his reporting on the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi was used by several local news outlets.
The journalist got his information from a police report that hadn’t been publicly released. The report said Adachi had collapsed in the company of a woman who was not his wife.
During the police raid, Carmody was handcuffed for nearly six hours while officers seized laptops and cameras, among several other items, while allegedly trying to get him to reveal who leaked a report to him.
Breed has requested an independent probe into the way police executed the search warrant, which could lead to charges, and the ongoing investigation into who leaked the report, which could lead to discipline for officers.
Montoya called for a separate investigation into Scott, adding the chief should be placed on administrative leave during the probe.
Reporters and other First Amendment organizations want a judge to revoke search warrants that authorized the raid and to unseal the materials submitted in support of them.
Hadar Aviram is a UC Hastings law professor.
“The threshold for a search warrant is probable cause that a crime has been committed, but First Amendment materials are special, which is why for First Amendment materials a warrant is not sufficient and typically what you need is a subpoena,” said Aviram. “The question here is was the police aware of the fact – were the cops that were executing the warrant aware of the fact that they were searching the premises of a journalist, and was the judge who issued the warrant also aware of this fact.”
The chief said at the time of the raid, Carmody was identified as a freelance videographer and communications director, not a journalist.
The union said the chief knew of Carmody’s press status, and did not let the sergeant who wrote the search warrant know about it. Saturday night the SFPD said in a response to the union that transparency and accountability are important in this criminal investigation. which is why it’s seeking a third-party agency to take over the original criminal case.
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