Just days after he was suspended from duty, the former Kansas police chief who was behind the raid on a local newspaper resigned on Monday. The move comes after a weeks-long national controversy over law enforcement’s decision to conduct the raid on the Marion County Record over tenuous allegations of identity theft.
The mayor announced the resignation on Tuesday:
Gideon Cody, the small-town Kansas police chief who spearheaded a raid on the Marion County Record, resigned Monday, Marion Mayor David Mayfield said.
Mayfield hired Cody in the spring and suspended him last week without explanation.
At Monday’s Marion City Council meeting, Mayfield announced Cody handed in his resignation before the meeting, “effective immediately.” Mayfield declined to talk to reporters after the meeting and offered no explanation for Cody’s departure.
Mayfield appointed Marion Officer Zach Hudlin as acting chief, with the council’s approval.
The mayor had previously defended Cody and said he would not take any action until the Kansas Bureau of Investigation finished its probe into the raids. Last week, he reversed that decision and suspended Cody. He would not say why.
Cody had left the Kansas City Police Department to work in Marion under suspicious circumstances. His raid of The Record newsroom followed questions from a reporter about his background.
The raid on the newspaper prompted a national conversation on the First Amendment right to freedom of the press. The raid targeted the newsroom and home of the newspaper’s owners, Joan Meyer and her son Eric. Law enforcement targeted the news outlet after one of its reporters looked up information on a local businesswoman’s driving records. She was confirming a confidential source’s statements that Kari Newell, who owns a restaurant in the area, had a DUI on her record. However, the decision to conduct the raid came shortly after the reporter began looking into Cody’s background in law enforcement.
Law enforcement obtained a warrant for the search claiming that the reporter had committed identity theft when she looked up Newell’s record on a public state directory. Footage showed officers searching 98-year-old Joan Meyer’s home. The next day, she passed away. Her son indicated that the stress of the encounter was too much for her to bear.
Later, the prosecutor rescinded the warrant, noting that the police lacked sufficient evidence to justify issuing it in the first place. Interestingly enough, the judge who signed off on the warrant also had at least one DUI on her record. She is now facing a misconduct complaint.
The news of Cody’s suspension was welcomed by those who were on the receiving end of his raid.
Cody’s suspension is a reversal for the mayor, who previously said he would wait for results from a state police investigation before taking action.
Vice-Mayor Ruth Herbel, whose home was also raided Aug. 11, praised Cody’s suspension as “the best thing that can happen to Marion right now” as the central Kansas town of about 1,900 people struggles to move forward under the national spotlight.
The fallout from the raid continues as new developments surface as investigators continue digging into the matter. The question is: Will anyone involved in this controversy face actual justice?