Police chief Gideon Cody of Marion, Kansas was suspended this week after conducting a raid on a local newspaper.
The family-owned Marion County Record newsroom was invaded in August after a complaint from a local business owner, Kari Newell, who accused two city council members of illegally sharing confidential information about her criminal record with the paper, which included a drunk driving conviction from 2008.
Previously unreleased court documents revealed that Cody suspected a reporter committed identity theft to obtain the information. The paper's publisher, Eric Meyer, said that the station received a tip about the woman's driving record, but never published or distributed the information.
Kansas newspaper raid
The Marion County Record reports that Cody was suspended last week by Mayor David Mayfield. The suspension went into effect Thursday, and was announced to city council members on Friday. The city council will now decide whether or not to terminate Cody from his position.
The local police faced national scrutiny for how the raid was conducted. Alongside seizing computers and cellphones, the home of Meyer's mother, Joan Meyer, was also invaded. She died just days after the raid, which Eric Meyer said had rendered her too stressed to eat or sleep.
Joan Meyer passed less than two years before her one-hundredth birthday. She had been in the newspaper business since the 1950s, and was still writing a weekly column featuring her memories.
"How dare they take the last day of her life and make her filled with fear and anger," Eric Meyer told ABC News at the time. "It's everything you've ever heard of in the third world. It really is like we're living in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany or Vladimir Putin's Russia."
The newspaper's attorney, Bernie Rhodes, said in a letter to Cody sent after the raid that the publication intends to “take every step to obtain relief." He said that the police chief “plainly violated the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as Sections 11, 15, and 18 of the Kansas Bill of Rights."
"Your personal decision to treat the local newspaper as a drug cartel or a street gang offends the constitutional protections the founding fathers gave the free press," Rhodes added.