Marion County Record: Police chief resigns after raid of local Kansas newspaper

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The Marion, Kansas, police chief who ordered a widely-condemned law enforcement raid on a local newspaper and its publisher’s home this summer has resigned, the city’s mayor said.

Marion Police Department Chief Gideon Cody resigned on Monday, Mayor David Mayfield told CNN, but declined to comment further, calling it a “personal matter.”

Officer Zach Hudlin has been appointed as Marion’s acting police chief, the mayor said.

The Kansas Peace Officers Association did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on Cody’s resignation.

The chief’s departure comes after he was suspended last week as an investigation into the raid continues.

In August, officers searched the office of the Marion County Record, as well as the home of the paper’s publisher and a county councilwoman, seizing reporters’ cell phones and computers, among other items. The move drew widespread criticism from news organizations and press freedom advocates.

The paper’s publisher, Eric Meyer, has said he believes the raid in Marion – about 60 miles north of Wichita – was prompted by a story about a local restaurant owner. But authorities said they were investigating what they called “identity theft” in a search warrant.

Cody at the time suggested the raids were based on the belief that a reporter unlawfully obtained the driving records of the restaurant owner before the paper published a story about her, according to unredacted affidavits obtained by CNN.

But less than a week after the raids, Marion County’s top prosecutor Joel Ensey withdrew the search warrants and asked authorities to return the seized materials, saying “insufficient evidence exists to establish a legally sufficient nexus between this alleged crime and the places searched and the items seized.”

The former police chief is also facing a federal lawsuit filed by Marion County Record reporter Debbie Gruver, who accuses Cody of violating her constitutional rights by obtaining an “unreasonable and unlawful” search warrant and seizing her personal property, according to the complaint.

The suit alleges Cody targeted Gruver because he knew she had been investigating allegations of misconduct against the chief during his time working for the Kansas City Police Department, although the newspaper has not published those allegations.

In addition to having her computer seized, Gruver says Cody seized her personal cell phone, which the suit argues did not fall under the scope of the warrant. Cody at the time did not respond to requests for comment from CNN.

It’s not just the police chief who has faced backlash over the raids.

Judge Laura Viar, who signed off on a search warrant authorizing the searches, is facing a complaint about her decision and has been asked by a judicial body to respond, records shared with CNN by the complainant show.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is now the lead law enforcement agency looking into the police raids of Meyer’s office and the home, the bureau previously told CNN.


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