The police chief who led a highly-controversial raid against a local newspaper office was suspended by the town’s mayor.
“Marion Mayor Dave Mayfield in a text said he suspended Chief Gideon Cody on Thursday. He declined to discuss his decision further and did not say whether Cody was still being paid,” the Associated Press reports.
Gideon Cody, the small-town Kansas police chief who spearheaded a raid on the Marion County Record, resigned Monday, Marion Mayor David Mayfield said.
Cody was hired in the spring & was suspended last week
— Aarón Torres (@AaronTorres_) October 2, 2023
Legal experts called the raid reminiscent of “totalitarian regimes.”
Local law enforcement raided the Marion County Record’s office and seized computers, cellphones, and reporting materials.
“Eric Meyer, owner and publisher of the newspaper, said police were motivated by a confidential source who leaked sensitive documents to the newspaper,” the Kansas Reflector reported.
“The raid followed news stories about a restaurant owner who kicked reporters out of a meeting last week with U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, and revelations about the restaurant owner’s lack of a driver’s license and conviction for drunken driving,” the Kansas Reflector wrote.
“It’s going to have a chilling effect on us even tackling issues,” Meyer said.
The Assange Effect
Goddamn it. We tried to tell you. https://t.co/kGXbgpXvvN
— Comrade Misty is Putin’s Buddy 🍀🚂🇵🇸 (@SarcasmStardust) August 12, 2023
However, Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody stood by the raid.
Police chief stands by extensive raid of Kansas newspaper https://t.co/WZsg658LoN
— Just the News (@JustTheNews) August 14, 2023
“As much as I would like to give everyone details on a criminal investigation I cannot. I believe when the rest of the story is available to the public, the judicial system that is being questioned will be vindicated,” Cody told Just the News in a statement.
The Washington Post obtained sworn affidavits previously not disclosed to the public.
Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody told a judge that a reporter at the newspaper office “accessed a restaurant owner’s driving record from a state database and could not have done so without ‘either impersonating the victim or lying about the reasons why the record was being sought,’” The Washington Post stated.
“Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody also wrote that the Kansas Department of Revenue had confirmed to him that Marion County Record reporter Phyllis Zorn had downloaded the private record,” the outlet added.
The police chief who led the raid of a Kansas newspaper has alleged in previously unreleased court documents that a reporter either impersonated someone else or lied about her intentions when she obtained the driving records of a local business owner. https://t.co/anFRsFxrM7
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 20, 2023
A Marion County Record reporter filed a federal lawsuit against Police Chief Gideon Cody following the August raid against the newspaper.
“Chief Cody acted in unreasonable and unnecessarily violent fashion,” said the lawsuit filed by reporter Deb Gruver.
According to The Kansas City Star, Gruver’s cell phone was seized and her finger injured during the raid.
The Associated Press provided additional details regarding Cody’s suspension:
Cody’s suspension is a reversal for the mayor, who previously said he would wait for results from a state police investigation before taking action.
Vice-Mayor Ruth Herbel, whose home was also raided Aug. 11, praised Cody’s suspension as “the best thing that can happen to Marion right now” as the central Kansas town of about 1,900 people struggles to move forward under the national spotlight.
“We can’t duck our heads until it goes away, because it’s not going to go away until we do something about it,” Herbel said.
Cody has said little publicly since the raids other than posting a defense of them on the police department’s Facebook page. In court documents he filed to get the search warrants, he argued that he had probable cause to believe the newspaper and Herbel, whose home was also raided, had violated state laws against identity theft or computer crimes.
The raids came after a local restaurant owner accused the newspaper of illegally accessing information about her. A spokesman for the agency that maintains those records has said the newspaper’s online search that a reporter did was likely legal even though the reporter needed personal information about the restaurant owner that a tipster provided to look up her driving record.
The newspaper’s publisher Eric Meyer has said the identity theft allegations simply provided a convenient excuse for the search after his reporters had been digging for background information on Cody, who was appointed this summer.
According to Marion County Record, the illegal raid, resembling “Gestapo tactics,” contributed to the death of the newspaper’s co-owner.
“Stressed beyond her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief after illegal police raids on her home and the Marion County Record newspaper office Friday, 98-year-old newspaper co-owner Joan Meyer, otherwise in good health for her age, collapsed Saturday afternoon and died at her home,” Marion County Record wrote.
“She had not been able to eat after police showed up at the door of her home Friday with a search warrant in hand. Neither was she able to sleep Friday night,” the newspaper continued.
“She tearfully watched during the raid as police not only carted away her computer and a router used by an Alexa smart speaker but also dug through her son Eric’s personal bank and investments statements to photograph them.”
Watch footage from the raid below: