As the police attempt to apologize for leaking salacious details of Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s final hours, even more explosive charges emerge that the police report of his death was being offered around for cash.
In the two months since Adachi's sudden death, the discussion around him has not been so much about his legacy as a tenacious firebrand fighting for the rights of the accused, but instead about police enthusiastically leaking the unflattering details surrounding his passing. SFPD commander Greg McEachern tried to tamper that criticism Thursday with a pro forma apology at a Thursday Board of Supervisors hearing. But that plan went sideways when, as Mission Local reports, the Public Defender’s Office alleged that the police report of Adachi’s death was being offered to local media outlets for $2,500.
Local news publications shelling out $2,500 cash? In this media economy?
“We appreciate the apology, but there are a number of unanswered questions, some of which I think can be answered today,” head of investigations at the public defender’s office Hadi Razzaq said at the meeting. “Who released the report? Is there any evidence it was sold to the media? Were police involved?”
Razzaq alleges that a “stringer,” a freelance reporter for an unnamed publication, was in possession of the report and was asking $2,500 for any publication that wanted these confidential details.
KPIX/CBS SF says that “The leaked report was offered to KPIX 5 but the station did not purchase it,” which certainly seems to validate Razzaq’s claims. The San Francisco Examiner also adds that they “obtained the police report after Adachi’s death but did not pay for it.”
Those initial reports, you may recall, leaked details that “alcohol, cannabis-infused gummies and syringes believed to have been used by the paramedics” were found at the scene of Adachi’s heart attack. (The final medical examiner's report mentioned cocaine and alcohol in Adachi’s system.)
All of these police department leaks seemed curiously designed to tarnish Adachi’s legacy, and they’ve certainly made the grieving process far more difficult for his family.
Adachi’s wife Mutsuko broke down crying at the meeting, describing this anguish. “It was despicable what the police department did to myself and my daughter by releasing the police report,” she said.
Needless to say, the new parlor game in town is to determine who this “stringer” freelance reporter is that somehow obtained the early report and was selling copies for $2,500 apiece. Mission Local acquired a copy of the memo in which the Public Defender’s Office made the allegation, and apparently an unnamed KRON 4 reporter detailed the $2,500 offer (while complaining her station could not afford the payment).
SFPD captain Bill Braconi told the supervisors that police investigators were “working tirelessly on this case” to determine the source of the leaks. Considering how resolving this mystery would just bring another scandal onto the department, we’ll see how tirelessly they work.
Related: Manohar Raju Named New SF Public Defender As Adachi's Tenure Gets New Scrutiny [SFist]