Gideon Cody, the Marion, Kans., police chief who ordered a widely-condemned law enforcement raid on a local newspaper and its publisher’s home this summer, has resigned, said Mayor David Mayfield. Officer Zach Hudlin has been appointed as Marion’s acting police chief, the mayor said. Hudlin was present during the raid of the Marion County Record and seized items from the newspaper, including a reporter’s cell phone, according to a copy of the search warrant, CNN reports. The chief’s departure comes after he was suspended as an investigation into the raid continues. In August, officers searched the office of the 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. Authorities said they were investigating what they called “identity theft” in a search warrant. Cody 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. 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.”