Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody has been suspended after leading a highly criticized raid on a small Kansas newspaper, according to Marion mayor Dave Mayfield. The suspension comes in the wake of the 11 August searches of the Marion County Record’s office and the homes of its publisher, Eric Meyer, and a city council member, Ruth Herbel. The raids have sparked a debate over press protections and the First Amendment rights of the free press.
Mayor Mayfield confirmed the suspension but declined to provide further details or comment on whether Cody is still being paid. Attempts to reach Cody’s lawyers for comment were unsuccessful. The suspension marks a reversal for Mayor Mayfield, who had previously stated that he would wait for the results of a state police investigation before taking action.
Vice-mayor Ruth Herbel, whose home was also raided, praised Cody’s suspension as a positive step for the town of Marion, which has been under national scrutiny since the controversial raids took place. Herbel emphasized the need for the town to address the situation rather than ignore it.
Cody has remained largely silent since the raids, except for a defense posted on the police department’s Facebook page. In court documents, Cody argued that he had probable cause to believe the newspaper and Herbel had violated state laws related to identity theft or computer crimes. However, legal experts believe the raid may have violated federal privacy laws or state laws protecting journalists.
Video footage of the raid on Eric Meyer’s home showed the distress of his 98-year-old mother, Joan Meyer, who passed away the following day. Eric Meyer believes the stress from the raid contributed to his mother’s death. Another reporter has filed a federal lawsuit against Chief Cody over the raid.
The suspension of Chief Gideon Cody has brought some relief to Marion as the town grapples with the aftermath of the controversial raid. The incident has raised important questions about press freedom and the limits of law enforcement’s authority in relation to journalists.