TOPEKA, Kan. – The police chief who led an August raid on a small weekly newspaper in central Kansas has resigned, just days after being suspended from his position, a City Council member confirmed Monday.
Councilwoman Ruth Herbel confirmed to The Associated Press that the mayor announced Chief Gideon Cody’s resignation at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The announcement comes days after Cody was suspended for reasons that were not made public, and weeks after a local prosecutor said there was not enough evidence to justify searching the Marion County Registry.
Cody did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on his resignation.
The mayor also did not respond to a text message or phone call about the matter.
The public announcement of Cody’s resignation was first reported by the Marion County Record and the Wichita Eagle.
Cody’s departure comes after body camera video recently obtained during the newspaper search shows an officer going through a desk drawer of a reporter who was investigating his boss.
The video then shows the officer motioning for Cody to look at the documents he had found.
The AP obtained the body camera video Monday through an open records request.
Cody then says, “Keep a personal file on me. “I don’t care,” the video shows.
He is briefly seen leaning over, apparently to look at the drawer, before the other officer’s clipboard blocks the chief’s view of what he is doing.
Cody obtained search warrants for the newspaper’s offices, his editor’s home and Herbel’s home by telling a judge he had evidence of possible identity theft and other potential crimes related to the circulation of information about the newspaper’s driving record. owner of a local restaurant.
A stack of the Marion County Record sits in the back of the newspaper building, waiting to be disaggregated, sorted and distributed, on August 16, 2023, in Marion, Kansas. AP
But the newspaper and his lawyer have suggested that he may have been trying to find out what he had learned about his past as a police captain in Kansas City, Missouri.
“It was about finding out who our sources were,” Bernie Rhodes, the newspaper’s lawyer, said Monday.
The raids put Marion, a city of 1,900 residents about 150 miles (240 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City, at the center of a fierce national debate over press freedom and shone international attention on Cody and his tactics.
Last week, the mayor indefinitely suspended Cody from the chief position; He faces a federal lawsuit and others are expected.
Marion Police Chief Gideon CodyFacebook
The local prosecutor later said there was insufficient evidence to justify the search warrants.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation later took over the investigation and has not said what its status is.
Eric Meyer, editor and publisher of the Record, blames the stress of the raids for the death the next day of his 98-year-old mother, Joan Meyer, a co-owner of the paper.
Cody did not respond early Monday to an email and phone message seeking comment on the raids and the newspaper’s opinion on his motives.
But body camera video shows him repeatedly telling newspaper staff that he is investigating how he and Herbel obtained information about the owner of two local restaurants, Kari Newell.
This image taken from surveillance video provided by the Marion County Record shows Marion. Police Department confiscating computers and cell phones from Marion County Record editor and staff.AP
“He became a monster and he has your name,” Cody told Record reporter Phyllis Zorn, who had verified information about Newell online, after reading Zorn his rights, as video shows.
The Associated Press obtained copies of the police department’s body camera video through an open records request from a Wichita law firm representing Cody in the federal lawsuit.
It was introduced by Deb Gruver, the Record reporter who had been investigating Cody’s past and who recently left the paper.
The video of Cody on Gruver’s desk is from Marion Police Officer Zach Hudlin’s body camera.
There didn’t appear to be any corresponding video of the same moment taken by Cody’s own camera.
The Marion County Record weekly newspaper offices are located across from the Marion County, Kansas, courthouse on Aug. 21, 2023, in Marion. AP
The video shows that officers, led by Cody, searched the Record newsroom after interviewing Zorn, Gruver and the newspaper’s business manager, and escorting them out of the building.
Hudlin then goes through a drawer in Gruver’s desk, after Gruver told the boss that it had nothing to do with the report on Newell.
Hudlin asks Cody, “Do you want to look through this desk?”
Cody responds that Hudlin has the right to look into it and Hudlin responds, “I know. I ask you: Do you want to look through this desk?
After Cody approaches the desk, Hudlin tells him, “You’ll understand shortly.”
It’s not clear from the video how closely Cody examined what was on the desk and the item Hudlin found, described by Rhodes as a file on Cody’s time at the Kansas City, Missouri, police department.
Cody retired from Kansas City police at the end of April, when he was interviewed by the Marion City Council.
He took a big pay cut: The Kansas City police paid him nearly $116,000 a year, while the job in Marion paid him $60,000 a year.
Meyer has said Cody knew weeks before the raids that the newspaper was investigating anonymous tips about why Cody retired from the Kansas City police force.
Meyer said that when he asked Cody a question about it, Cody threatened to sue.