Bryan Carmody, a veteran news videographer in San Francisco, was jolted awake by police trying to bust his door down with a sledge hammer Friday morning.
“I heard this gnarly sound, which sounded like somebody was trying to break into my house,” Carmody said early Sunday morning in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
“Well, it was. It was the San Francisco Police Department with a couple of FBI agents.”
The cops were trying to identity the person who leaked the death report of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who died in February under mysterious circumstances in an apartment that did not belong to him with a woman who was not his wife.
Adachi, 59, was a frequent critic of abusive cops and an advocate for criminal justice reform. It was no secret the cops did not like him.
And they are apparently upset that they were not called to the scene where Adachi died until three hours after the paramedics had arrived.
Initial reports stated Acachi died of a heart attack but an autopsy released a month later stated the heart attack was caused by cocaine and alcohol that he willingly consumed so maybe the cops are upset they were not given the chance to make arrests.
For reasons that are not yet clear, the San Francisco Police Department really did not want that report leaked because they detained Carmody for seven hours, keeping him handcuffed while going through all his personal belongings and confiscating cameras, computers, tablets, hard drives and phones in the hopes of finding anything that would identify his source.
And when they did not find what they were looking for, they searched his office, which is about five miles away.
His surveillance camera apparently captured it all. The cops did not confiscate it. Carmody is not posting the video at this time but has posted a few screenshots, including one of him in handcuffs, the other of them trying to enter with sledgehammers.
”I asked several times if I was under arrest and they said no, so I asked if I was free to go and they said no,” he said.
Two weeks earlier, San Francisco police tried the “nice cop” approach where they tried to charm him into violating all journalistic principles and reveal his source, which he did not.
But even when they returned with their “bad cop” approach and tried to intimidate him into doing so, he still did not give up his source and says he never will.
It’s not clear if police have found what they were looking for in the items they seized.
Carmody is a freelancer who spends the hours between midnight and dawn videotaping anything newsworthy around the Bay Area, a stringer who sells footage to local television stations.
So he normally does not receive leaked documents from police departments but when he did, he sold it as news content to the stations, who then ran it.
The leaked report said that he died of a heart attack while spending time with a Colombian woman named “Caterina,” who was the one who called 911 the night of his death and whom police already interviewed and determined her name is Catalina. This was before the cocaine revelation from the autopsy.
Police say there were no signs of foul play but are only concerned because a document was leaked.
Many see the leaking of the documents as a way for police to destroy Adachi’s reputation.
According to Rafu Shimpo:
“The department is concerned with the unauthorized release of the police report and is investigating allegations of improper conduct and release of the report,” said Sgt. Michael Andraychak, an SFPD spokesman. “The department understands and respects the sensitivity and privacy of investigations of this nature.”
Some TV stations broadcast photos taken by police at the apartment, showing an unmade bed, bottles of alcohol, cannabis-infused gummies, and syringes, the latter of which may have been left by paramedics.
Adachi frequently crusaded against police misconduct. In one case, he posted surveillance video showing officers entering a suspect’s hotel room without a warrant and stealing valuables. He also exposed racist and homophobic comments in text messages among officers.
His efforts to address the city’s budget crisis by reducing pensions raised the ire of city employees, particularly the police and fire departments.
Tim Redmond of the news site 48 Hills wrote on Sunday, “Some of the TV news coverage of Jeff Adachi’s death has been utterly repugnant. Channel 4 and Channel 7 seem to be trying to outdo each other with ‘scoops’ based on reports that I am almost certain were leaked by the cops, many of whom hated Adachi.
All the cops are doing now is proving Adachi right; that they are completely out of control and in dire need of oversight.
”They made it impossible for me to do my job,” Carmody said, explaining how they only left him with one camera, which is an older model only compatible with the older laptop and software they confiscated.
“I’m pretty much shit out of luck,” he said. “My business has cease to exist until I get my equipment back from police.”
It’s not going to be easy surviving in San Francisco with no income, so he set up a Go Fund Me account and is asking for $10,000 in donations to help him get back to work. As of now, he has raised $1,214.