Body Cameras

San Francisco Police Were Ordered To Turn Off Body Cameras in Raid on Journalist's Home

Their illegal search was not recorded.

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When San Francisco police raided journalist Bryan Carmody's home last year, in a misguided (and illegal) search attempting to track down a leaker, none of the event was captured on police body camera.

This turns out to be by design. A newly released memo reveals that a lieutenant with the investigative services detail specifically told police at the scene, following a captain's orders, that officers were not to use their body cameras for the operation. The only explanation provided in the two-paragraph memo was that the "footage could compromise the investigation."

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press acquired the memo through a public records request, but it got no explanation as to why or how recording the administration of a search warrant could compromise the probe. Instead, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) told the organization he couldn't provide any more detail because of "pending administrative investigations."

SFPD officers searched Carmody's home in May 2019 (using a sledgehammer to gain entrance) because they were trying to track down who had leaked to him a police report with embarrassing details surrounding the death of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi. Because of the contentious relationship between Adachi and the police department, it's possible that somebody within the police department might have leaked the report to posthumously make Adachi look bad.

California has shield laws protecting journalists from being forced to reveal confidential sources. The search warrant was subsequently declared illegal by a San Francisco Superior Court judge, and the city eventually agreed to pay Carmody $369,000 for its behavior.

Body cameras, when properly and carefully implemented, are helpful tools for police transparency and accountability. But they're used inconsistently. Sometimes officers individually decide to turn them off, but here we see leaders purposefully ordering police not to record an investigation. That's a problem.

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  1. This is easily another example of the Republicans undying support of police abuse.

    1. Yep, San Francisco is and has always been a hotbed of Republicanism.
      Adachi was a lifelong Democrat, but Republicans are always willing to help.

      1. Sarcasm font didnt come across.

        1. Sumbuddy needs some new specs… it came across just fine to my old eyes. Well done. Sir.

          1. My last pay check was $8750 just ecom working 12 hours for every week. My neighbor have found the estimation of $15k for a long time and she works around 20 hours for seven days. I can not trust how direct it was once I tried it information…… Click here

    2. I heard Trump say this exact same horseshit last night. Democrat this, Democrat that. You’re dealing with a systemic problem by resorting to shallow, idiotic tribalism and using the politician’s exact same words to do it. Do you feel ashamed of yourself repeating the exact words of the president like that? Do you worry that you might suffer from not having more than one thought on any issue?

      1. It’s a systematic problem in cities Democrats control. I guess I can understand you not wanting to confront that fact, but “Democrat this, Democrat that,” is in fact the right line to take when Democrats are causing the problem.

        1. Most cities are run by Democrats. The premise necessitates the accompanying claim that other cities, towns, and Bumfuck Nowheres controlled by Republicans must be a relative paradise on earth for black citizens.

          By systemic one means that both parties are involved. You’ll get no argument from me that Democrats were, if anything, more responsible for tough-on-crime policies from the 90s.

          Flapping your jaws about how it’s all the evil libruls’ fault that things haven’t gotten better both ignores the reality of which political tribe is actually, right now, trying to do something about it, while the other is flailing around like idiots whining about football players kneeling. And talking about blue lives matter. And thugs and looter. Being generally 100% unhelpful to the cause.

          Also did you know the KKK used to be Democrats?!?!?!?!

  2. Thankfully, we can all rest assured that the officers involved in this incident will be held accountable for their individual and collective actions.

    1. Let’s face it, would cam footage made any difference in accountability?

      1. Maybe if they had cam footage of the mayor telling the chief to tell the captain to tell the lieutenant. So no…

        1. These kind of violations really need to be prosecuted, by the federal government. Then the captain will testify the chief told him, who’ll testify the Democrat mayor told him, who’ll lie and claim he didn’t say that. IMHO, every person involved should be prosecuted including the cops following illegal orders. After a few prosecutions and some cops and politicians go to jail, then cops will refuse to break the law for the higher ups, and the higher ups will be less likely to violate our rights. Further, getting rid of qualified immunity would make these cops liable for violating the journalist’s rights, because the $369,000 came from taxpayers, not the people causing the problem.

          If not,

    2. You misspelled ‘taxpayer’.

  3. It’s just a few bad apples…in charge.

    1. Yup. Just a few. About the right amount to make a DEEP dish apple pie about ten feet diameter and three feet deep.
      Dem apples is so bayad dey tayste lka they’s ROAD apples…..

  4. California has shield laws protecting journalists from being forced to reveal confidential sources. The search warrant was subsequently declared illegal by a San Francisco Superior Court judge, and the city eventually agreed to pay Carmody $369,000 for its behavior.

    Thank goodness this happened to a Journalist. Had it just been a civilian…

    1. ………the story would have been ignored completely. Journalist > civilian.

      Correction, the judge ordered the tax payers to pay Carmody $369,000 (or 6 months rent in SF).

  5. The only explanation provided in the two-paragraph memo was that the “footage could compromise the investigation.”

    No investigation benefits from video evidence.

    1. The investigation report had already been written – – – – – –

  6. …a spokesperson for the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) told the organization he couldn’t provide any more detail because of “pending administrative investigations.”

    Investigations are like delicate souffles.

    1. Citizens should not pry into matters of national security

  7. Another reason not to skip jury duty. “The body cam was turned off? That’s reasonable doubt. Not guilty.”

    1. It shouldn’t have to get that far. If there’s no recording, the DA can’t prosecute.

      1. That’s unreasonable. There are lots of kinds of proof besides video. I don’t want a rapist going free merely because the crime was committed in secret.

        However, “the body cam was turned off” should be treated as spoliation of evidence and grounds for a jury instruction to presume that the video would have contained evidence harmful to the police’s case. That makes it the jury’s job to weigh the presumption against other evidence.

        1. If the state has to take deliberate actions to conceal how they acted does that not make you question any evidence they might produce? If the state doesn’t want rapists (or any type of criminal) to walk they should start by operating above the board.

        2. That works for charges like resisting arrest, not for charges when the police weren’t there in the first place. I for one think body cameras should be required to bring resisting arrest charges or assault on an officer charges unless there’s a reasonable explication as to why it couldn’t be recorded.

      2. plenty o fother evidence would still be available that could well convict. This DOES clearly expose the head copper’s corruption though.

        I am wondering when charged will be laid on that Supe. Is HE the clown what ordered the “stealth mode” for the illegal raid, AND the illegal raid itself? If so, HE needs to be taken down.

  8. The lesson that Americans today have forgotten or never learned — the lesson which our ancestors tried so hard to teach — is that the greatest threat to our lives, liberty, property, and security is not some foreign government, as our rulers so often tell us. The greatest threat to our freedom and well-being lies with our own government!. ~ Jacob G. Hornberger

    1. Our own government and angry arson mobs that are seemingly the only people our government shouldn’t be allowed to arrest.

      1. Funny how that works…

    2. Yep and that’s exactly why the Second Amendment is there in the Constitution.

  9. Well, after all, there is written, signed proof; how hard a case can it be to nail the higher-up cops?

    1. That’s a matter for the Unions… just leave it alone.

      1. Are they still getting their dues? Yes? Case closed.

  10. As the stooge — er, spokesperson — from the SFPD stated: “We don’t need no stinkin’ cameras.”

  11. A newly released memo reveals that a lieutenant with the investigative services detail specifically told police at the scene, following a captain’s orders, that officers were not to use their body cameras for the operation. The only explanation provided in the two-paragraph memo was that the “footage could compromise the investigation.”

    “As could this memo.”

  12. The search warrant was subsequently declared illegal by a San Francisco Superior Court judge, and the city taxpayers eventually agreed to pay Carmody $369,000 for its behavior.

    Most of them just weren’t paying attention when they did it.

    1. If only the taxpayers had agreed to pay $369,000 rather than been forced to do so. If only the taxpayers could fire every employee whose failures cost them this money.

  13. This is a totally flawed article as it failed to include the communications of them good apple cops that were involved. All of whom went on the record, for the purpose of accountability and professional integrity, wanting to know explicitly how body cam footage could compromise the investigation so as to justify such a blatant disregard for transparency, policy and the hard earned trust with the public.

  14. Why didn’t the police do it like they would have in the old days?

    Stage a fake burglary, shoot the troublesome journalist in the process, and blame it on some darkies.

    1. Seth Rich says, “Sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do.”

  15. Who issued the referenced “orders” above mentioned? On what basis was such orders issued, something to hide possibly? Is the issuer still in a position of authority? If so, how come? Why were such orders issued in the first place? Might the authorities have been less than proud of their actions, one wonders?

  16. There’s some missing info here; this was an investigation into misconduct by someone within the police department. Adachi was a lawyer/ politician who was not liked by some in the police. After his death someone leaked salacious information which had no real value except to humiliate his family. Whether there was any risk that the leaker could learn about the raid from the body camera footage is debatable, but it doesn’t alter the fact that the real bad guys were the leaker who was trying to get payback on a lawyer, and a sleazy reporter who just wanted money.

    1. The leaker and the reporter, however sleazy you think they were, didn’t sledgehammer anyone’s door and intentionally cover up what they did in his house.

    2. “…but it doesn’t alter the fact that the real bad guys were the leaker who was trying to get payback on a lawyer, and a sleazy reporter who just wanted money.”

      You.
      Are.
      Full.
      Of.
      Shit.
      Adachi was an elected official, as such, his activities are subject to public scrutiny. Wanna stay ‘private’? Don’t put yourself in the public eye.
      What’s really wrong here is how most of the SF media hid his coke habit and womanizing until he was caught in the whore’s bed.

    3. Stories seem to be written just providing the facts that would support the writer’s viewpoint and desired reader conclusions. That’s modern journalism for you.

  17. Still cant understand why cops, who come from the lower and middle classes, continue to abuse and humiliate those in the lower and middle classes. To serve and protect eh?

    1. Feature, not a bug is why. Do you think the Overseers LOVED the the Field Hands they ran? I mean, the Overseers could beat the shit out of them to prove to the Master they weren’t like them Field Hands, so they didn’t want to go back to being one and would be a good taskmaster. Better to hold the whip than be one of the whipped…

    2. I guess you’ve never heard of the Stanford Prison Experiment?

      Or even that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

      Give ’em and inch and they’ll take a mile?

      1. “I guess you’ve never heard of the Stanford Prison Experiment?”

        Been debunked; it was faked. Please don’t use such bullshit as ‘evidence’.

  18. Nancy Pelosi’s town is a shining example of why we can never let the Democrats of California rule our country. Our Founders knew there would be factions like the left and their answer is the Electoral College. From Jim Jones to Nancy Pelosi California is a different world then the rest of the country with New York rapidly gaining. Crazy, corrupt and dangerous seems to be the norm.

  19. That’s some third world bullshit right there.

  20. San Francisco is on all levels a honeypot.

    1. All of metropolitan California is.

      But, you’d be surprised at the stark difference when you get out into the “boonies”. Places where they have as much disdain for what happens in SF as you do.

  21. In order for badge cams to work, you have to ditch the notion that the police are the good guys, and that the purpose of the cam is to document that when they’re unjustly accused.

    You need to just come out and say that the cams are because cops can’t be trusted, and design the system accordingly: On during working hours, stream to a repository the police have read only access to, and in any way defeating them is a serious strict liability offense.

  22. Good reporting. So long as police are tools of a force-initiating kleptocracy that routinely has them murder people, I am surprised that anyone can feign surprise at their destroying evidence. When was the last time you heard “war on drugs” or “drug prohibition” mentioned in connection with televised “reporting” of police violence/murders? A forensic investigator just told me he had never seen the two topics mentioned in the same report, ever, on any channel.

  23. You expect to hear stories like this from collapsed third world countries. Welcome to the POLICE STATE.

  24. Oh no… what if the cops had been falsely accused of being bad? They’d not have had the video evidence to exonerate themselves! Lol

  25. Whenever you hear someone say “just a few bad apples,” remember this story.

  26. The world is upside down. There are strange forces out there eating away our reason and common sense.

  27. They were worried the cameras might inadvertently record some unpublished story, thereby violating the journalist’s first amendment rights.

  28. Yeah, Reason – we get it. The police are bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Yawn.

  29. Everybody surprised stand on their heads.

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