September 22, 2019

San Francisco Police Call Freelancer Possible ‘Co-Conspirator’ in Report Leak

The police have not taken a similarly aggressive stance toward Evan Sernoffsky, a crime reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle who relied on unnamed sources familiar with the same report for an article he wrote about Mr. Adachi’s death.

Law enforcement authorities have not taken any apparent action against Mr. Sernoffsky, the newspaper that employs him or others in the same newsroom who have covered the story, according to Audrey Cooper, The Chronicle’s editor in chief.

The raid of Mr. Carmody’s apartment took place in the wake of President Trump’s frequent anti-press remarks and the federal government’s prosecutions of the whistle-blowers Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner. The Police Department’s statement on Tuesday sought to characterize Mr. Carmody as someone hoping to profit from ill-gotten official materials in his possession, rather than as a journalist.

“Investigators learned that Mr. Carmody was offering to sell the stolen report to various Bay Area news organizations,” the statement said. “Mr. Carmody’s LinkedIn profile shows that he is a ‘Freelance Videographer/Communications Manager, USO Bay Area’ and that he was not employed by any of the news organizations who received the stolen report.”

It is common for self-employed journalists to sell their work to news outlets that do not employ them. Those engaged in the kind of quick-hit journalism practiced by Mr. Carmody are commonly known as stringers.

Investigators believe that whoever leaked the police records to Mr. Carmody is employed by the Police Department, the statement said. As a public defender, Mr. Adachi often challenged the department over allegations of abuse.

The raid of Mr. Carmody’s apartment prompted criticism of what free-press advocates have characterized as a trampling of First Amendment rights and a California shield law that protects journalists. Several dozen news organizations, including The New York Times Company and Dow Jones Company, have filed a friend-of-the-court letter in support of Mr. Carmody.

Mayor London Breed, after initially supporting the police, shifted her position over the weekend. “The more we learn,” she said of the raid, “the less appropriate it looks to me.” George Gascón, the city’s district attorney, has been less equivocal is his public criticism of the search.

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