San Francisco Police Union Calls Chief Scott ‘Deceitful' in Apology Over Journalist Raid

Police commission leaders commend chief for admitting and taking responsibility for the mistake

The president of the San Francisco Police Officer's Association on Saturday called Chief Bill Scott's apology over the raid of a freelance journalist's home and office a "deceitful and shameful" display of self-preservation, and said it's time for him to go.

The leaders of the San Francisco Police Commission meanwhile are standing behind the chief and even commending him for admitting the mistake.

Chief Scott admitted Friday that there was a "lack of due diligence" in the police department's attempt to obtain information on a confidential source who leaked a police report on late public defender Jeff Adachi to reporter Bryan Carmody. SFPOA president Tony Montoya claimed in a scathing statement to union members Saturday that the raid was initiated by Scott.

"Chief Scott not only followed every twist and turn of the investigation but he knew every element of the investigation, directed the investigation and has clearly either come down with the most debilitating case of amnesia or is flat out not telling the truth about his direct involvement and the horribly flawed direction he gave to find the leak of the police report," Montoya said.

In his promise for a thorough investigation into the raid, Scott said he had "serious concerns that we may have violated the shield law," which specifically protects journalists from search warrants.

He added, "There were concerns with language in, particularly one of the warrants ... we made some mistakes."

In a statement to NBC Bay Area, SFPD's spokesperson David Stevenson said that Scott "made it abundantly clear" that transparency is important and that's why the department is seeking a third-party investigator.

Scott on Friday didn't provide details of the investigation other than to say that Carmody was an active participant in acquiring a police record, which the reporter then sold to three television news outlets as part of a news package that included information obtained from interviews and video footage from the scene of Adachi's death.

In the letter to SFPOA members, Montoya said that the chief knew of Carmody's press status and did not disclose it to the author of the search warrant.

"This investigation was initiated at the top, meaning the chief’s office," he said. "The chief was very well briefed extensively on every step of the investigation, including giving direction to the Sergeants themselves."

Montoya also called for an investigation into Chief Scott and said that he should be placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation. "During that time, he should muster up the personal fortitude to do the right thing and resign," Montoya wrote.

The Department of Police Accountability will be investigating the execution of the search warrant on Carmody’s home as well as continuing their own investigation into the unauthorized release of the police report, according to the police department.

SFPD, under the oversight of the Police Commission, will also review it, Scott said.

A letter from police commission President Robert Hirsch and Vice President Damali Taylor, says in part: "Chief Scott did what is rare for police chiefs; he apologized to the citizens of San Francisco. He did so completely and unequivocally. That is the mark of a leader." 

Carmody's attorneys, Ben Berkowitz of Keker Van Nest and Peters LLP, and Tom Burke of Davis Wright & Tremaine LLP, made a statement on Twitter:

"There needs to be real reform in the department to ensure that the SFPD respects the First Amendment and the independence of a free press.”

Scott said Friday that he had completed an in-depth investigation of the circumstances surrounding the raid in the last 48 hours.

"SFPD’s Statement of Values specifies that 'policing strategies must preserve and advance democratic values.' In this area, we must do a better job. Journalists and everyone in our City deserve a police department that will maintain the constitutional rights of all." Scott said.

In response to the union president’s call for Chief Scott to resign over this scandal – the chief’s office issued a statement saying everyone’s role will be examined, including command staff and the chief himself.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Disclaimer: NBC Bay Area has a long-time relationship with Bryan Carmody. We bought video from him that included the police report.

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