The police chief of Marion, Kans., who made global headlines by raiding the offices of the local newspaper, has been suspended by Mayor Dave Mayfield, who said the controversy made local officials "look like a bunch of hicks." Police Chief Gideon Cody led the August raid, which included several officers and sheriff's deputies, at the Marion County Record and the homes of an owner of the paper and a vice mayor. A search warrant indicated police were investigating a restaurateur's claims the paper illegally obtained information about her, said editor and publisher Eric Meyer. He believes the real reason for the search was the paper's investigation of Cody's previous police work before being hired in Marion months before the raid, reports USA Today.
The warrant was ultimately withdrawn, but the raid drew an outcry from experts on press freedoms and the First Amendment. “Anyone should have realized that sending the entire police force to search a newsroom because journalists verified information from a source is an outrageous overreaction that threatens freedom of the press,” said Caitlin Vogus of the Press Foundation. This raid never should have happened." The case has drawn unwanted attention to the town of 2,000 people 60 miles northeast of Wichita. Cody, who could not be reached for comment, defended the raid in an August Facebook post, saying that "when the rest of the story is available to the public, the judicial system that is being questioned will be vindicated." Footage released by the Record shows Meyer's mother, Joan Meyer, shouting at officers as they searched the home they shared. She died a day later, and Eric Meyer believes the stress contributed to her death. He expects to file a lawsuit.