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Police commissioners, union take opposing sides in Bryan Carmody investigation

The president and vice president of the San Francisco Police Commission praised police Chief William Scott Sunday, saying his apology for the May 10 police raid of a freelance journalist’s home and office was the “mark of a leader.”

Police Commission president Robert Hirsch and vice president Damali Taylor issued the joint statement, speaking for themselves and not the entire commission, weighing in on how Scott has handled the aftermath of the raid of freelance journalist Bryan Carmody’s home and office.

The raid was part of an investigation into a leaked police report that contained details of the Feb. 22 death of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. Police want to know how Carmody received the report, which he then sold to three local television stations.

Among other things, that report said Adachi died in the company of a woman who wasn’t his wife.

In Sunday’s joint statement, Hirsch and Taylor said Scott’s apology Friday for the May 10 raid — which Scott had initially defended — was a rare step for any police chief, and that he took that step “completely and unequivocally.” The statement said:

“That is the mark of a leader.”

While Hirsch and Taylor would not comment on the Adachi investigation itself, their statement Sunday offered praise for Scott, whom they described as a “person of high integrity” under whose leadership police use of force has gone down and who has started meaningful reforms.

Sunday’s police commission statement comes after the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association on Saturday called for Scott to resign, calling Scott’s apology a “pathetic, deceitful and shameful display of self-preservation.”

Tony Montoya, head of the police officers’ association, said 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.”

Also on Saturday, Kat Anderson, the interim executive officer of the Pacific Media Workers Guild journalists’ union, said Carmody is indeed entitled to the same Shield Law protections as is any other journalist.

Freelancers, she said, have the same protections as do employees of a newspaper or a television news station.

As for Scott’s apology, Anderson said the chief seems sincere, and that he both supports the investigation and wants to respect journalists’ rights in doing so:

“He’s admitted fault, and he says the police will learn from this. … I believe Chief Scott is highly motivated to do the right thing.”

On May 15, Scott said he was confident that a search warrant obtained to search Carmody’s home and office was legal and in compliance with the Shield Law, which prohibits law enforcement from forcing journalists to reveal their sources.

Later Saturday, a SFPD spokesman defended Scott’s actions, and said a second investigation of how police handled the raid has been requested.

SFPD Officer Robert Rueca said in a statement Saturday:

“Chief Scott has made it abundantly clear that transparency and accountability are paramount in this criminal investigation.”

Scott had said on Friday that an outside agency will take over the police department’s criminal investigation into the case.

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