City Suspends Police Chief Who Raided Newspaper Offices

Official calls move 'the best thing that can happen to Marion right now'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2023 5:40 PM CDT
Updated Sep 30, 2023 4:30 PM CDT
Raided Kansas Newspaper Has Its Belongings Back
Editor and Publisher Eric Meyer goes through the latest edition of his newspaper, the "Marion County Record," during a news conference about the raid of the paper's office on Wednesday in Marion, Kansas.   (AP Photo/John Hanna)
UPDATE Sep 30, 2023 4:30 PM CDT

The police chief who led a raid on the offices of a Kansas newspaper has been suspended, the town's mayor said Saturday. Dave Mayfield confirmed the suspension to the AP but would not say whether Chief Gideon Cody, whose lawyers did not immediately comment, is still receiving his salary. The vice-mayor said that with the city dealing with national attention over the raid, the suspension of the police chief is "the best thing that can happen to Marion right now." Ruth Herbel added, "We can't duck our heads until it goes away, because it's not going to go away until we do something about it."

Aug 16, 2023 5:40 PM CDT

The Kansas newspaper whose offices were raided by police last week has had its seized belongings returned, after the county attorney decided there was "insufficient evidence" to justify the search. Joel Ensey said he has withdrawn the search warrant under which officers raided the Marion County Record, touching off a national reaction, NBC News reports. Police had said that an "employee of the newspaper may have committed" a computer-based crime, Ensey wrote in a statement. But he added that his review, conducted on Monday, did not find that a connection had been established between that suspicion and the newspaper office and the items taken.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is looking into the case and said Wednesday that its work will continue independently, without an examination of the items. The findings of that investigation will be presented to Ensey, the agency said. Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody did not immediately comment on Ensey's announcement. Bernie Rhodes, a lawyer for the weekly paper, said a forensics expert will examine the items that were taken, per KSHB. A "forensic copy" will be made, Rhodes said, and the two versions will be compared to see whether any information was accessed or altered.

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Organizations that champion press freedom expressed outrage at the raid, and one of them welcomed the county attorney's decision on Wednesday. "But we still need answers as to how this happened," said Clayton Weimers of Reporters Without Borders, per CNN. "Law enforcement cannot simply raid media organizations at will." (The paper's co-owner watched the raid in tears, then died the next day.)

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