The police chief, who a heavily criticized The raid on a small newspaper in Kansas has been called off, the mayor confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday.
Marion Mayor Dave Mayfield said in a text message that he suspended Chief Gideon Cody on Thursday. He declined to discuss his decision further and did not say whether Cody was still being paid.
Voice messages and emails from the AP seeking comment from Cody’s lawyers were not immediately returned Saturday.
On August 11, searches were conducted at the Marion County Recorder’s office and at the homes of his publisher and a city council member sharply criticized, Put Marion at the center of a debate about it Press protection offered by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Cody’s suspension represents an about-face for the mayor, who previously said he would await the results of a State Police investigation before taking action.
Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel, whose home was also searched on Aug. 11, praised Cody’s suspension as “the best thing to happen to Marion right now” as the central Kansas city of about 1,900 residents struggles to move forward in the national spotlight.
“We can’t keep our heads down until it goes away, because it won’t go away until we do something about it,” Herbel said.
Cody has said little publicly since the raids, other than posting a defense of his views on the police Facebook page. In Court documents When he applied for a search warrant, he argued that he had probable cause to believe that the newspaper and Herbel, whose home was also searched, had violated state laws against identity theft and 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 keeps those records said a reporter’s online search of the newspaper was likely legal, although the reporter needed personal information about the restaurant owner provided by a tipster to look up her driving record.
The paper’s editor, Eric Meyer, said the identity theft allegations were simply a convenient excuse for the search after his reporters sought background information on Cody, who was appointed this summer.
Legal experts believe so The raid on the newspaper violated a federal privacy law or a state law that bars journalists from identifying sources or turning over unpublished material to law enforcement.
Video of the raid at the home of publisher Eric Meyer shows how distraught his 98-year-old mother was when officers searched her belongings. Meyer said he believes stress contributed to the death of his mother, Joan Meyer, a day later.
Another reporter last month filed a federal lawsuit against the police chief because of the raid.