Was it Kamala saying she was concerned? Was it pressure from the mayor and District Attorney to take responsibility? Was it finally realizing his department exchanged one political drama for another and dug itself into a deeper a hole?
Whatever the reason, SFPD Chief Bill Scott took to a podium late Friday afternoon and said "I'm sorry" for the May 10 raid on the home of journalist Byran Carmody. Acknowledging "we should have done a better job," Scott went on to say, "I’m sorry to the people of San Francisco. I’m sorry to the mayor. We have to fix it. We know there were some concerns in that investigation and we know we have to fix it."
As everyone has taken note, including Mission Local, the Chronicle, and ABC 7, this is a complete reversal from Scott's statements shortly after the raid, as outrage began bubbling up on the national level. On May 13, Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer relayed, albeit second-hand, that Scott had confirmed to her that the judges who approved the SFPD's search warrant the week before were aware of Carmody's "journalistic background." Under further scrutiny, however, Scott now says in a statement, "I am specifically concerned by a lack of due diligence by department investigators in seeking search warrants and appropriately addressing Mr. Carmody’s status as a member of the news media." He says he's especially concerned about one warrant to search Carmody's cell phone.
This is also a reversal from earlier this week when the SFPD responded in court to a suit brought by Carmody by saying it was looking into criminal conspiracy charges against him.
Scott is acknowledging that the SFPD's searches, and the raid itself, was likely illegal, and now as ABC 7 reports, the mayor has called for an independent investigation into the raid. Mayor Breed has also reversed herself from some initial support for the SFPD's efforts, calling the raid "unacceptable and we have to do better."
The SFPD was already under pressure from the mayor and Board of Supervisors to answer for the leak of a death report that embarrassed the widow of late public defender Jeff Adachi, the day after Adachi's death. It remains unclear whether anyone in the SFPD purposely sought to leak the report to disgrace the memory of a man seen as a foe of the department, or whether it was simply a case of a stringer, Carmody, hustling to get details about a breaking story and seeking out a leak from a familiar source in the department. As the Chronicle noted last week, it received a copy of the same report, the same day, through possibly the same source — though Carmody reportedly sold his copy to three news outlets for $2,500. Carmody claims he did not pay for the report or receive it through conspiratorial means, but solely obtained through his work as a journalist.
As Supervisor Hilary Ronen tells the Chronicle today, Chief Scott should at least be commended for owning the scandal now. "I understand that it took him a couple weeks, but the fact that he is unequivocally apologizing and laying out clear actions that he’s taking in response is what you would want from a leader," Ronen said.