- In February 2019, San Francisco’s elected Public Defender Jeff Adachi died of an accidental overdose.
- When the incident report related to his death came out, police in San Francisco said it was leaked and began conducting an investigation on the “unauthorized release.”
- Freelance videographer Bryan Carmody, who sold the leaked police report to news outlets, said authorities came to his home about two weeks ago and asked for his source’s name, but he refused to tell them.
- Last Friday, police raided his home in an attempt to find out who gave him the report.
Raiding the Journalist’s Home
Bryan Carmody, a freelance videographer based in San Francisco, was handcuffed and detained for over six hours at his home on Friday when his house was raided by police and FBI officials.
The tension between Carmody and the police started in February of 2019 when the then public defender of San Franciso, Jeff Adachi, died of an accidental overdose. Officials said no foul play was involved but the cause of death was still being investigated. Within in days of him dying, two major new sites began reporting on details surrounding Adachi’s death, saying they were based off a police report, which was leaked and not authorized to be released. An anonymous source had obtained the police documents and gave them to Carmody, who then sold it other outlets. The name of his source was the cause of the raid.
Carmody says he was woken Friday morning by the sound of someone trying to break the gate surrounding his home. When he went to check out the noise, the reporter found ten police officers trying to force their way in with a sledgehammer. Carmody voluntarily opened the gate to the officers and was immediately placed in handcuffs and detained until cops left his home nearly seven hours later.
Prior to Friday’s raid, two inspectors from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau came to Carmody’s home just weeks before and politely asked for his source’s name, but he refused to tell them. Officers were later granted a search warrant in order to look for stolen or embezzled property that the freelancer may have possessed, which they believe would include the name of the source who provided the leaked police reports to Carmody.
The Leaked Documents and Jeff Adachi’s Death
When the media first began reporting on the details surrounding Adachi’s death, police immediately released a statement saying the report was leaked.
“The department is concerned with the unauthorized release of the police report and is investigating allegations of improper conduct and release,” a San Franciso Police Department spokesman said. “The department understands and respects the sensitivity and privacy of investigations of this nature.”
ABC7, one of the first new sites to obtain the leaked report, said the documents showed that while the first 911 call involving Adachi was made at 5:41 pm, the police didn’t arrive on the scene until almost three hours later at 8:37 pm. The news outlet also stated the report showed that Adachi had been dining with a woman who was not his wife, and she was left alone in what police say was a potential crime scene.
Carmody said from the beginning he felt that the reports and investigations into Adachi’s death were sketchy and wanted to confirm the details himself, especially considering the relationship the public defender had with police. Since 2003 when Adachi was first elected, he had been seen as a police watchdog, cracking down on misconduct and justice reform. There were also reports that just three weeks before his death, Adachi was in the process of firing the Medical Examiner’s Director of Operations for lying in a homicide case. Instead, he became the lead investigator in his death.
As a result of yesterday’s raid, Carmody says all of his equipment, his notebooks, computers, and phones have been confiscated, adding that even his fiancee’s iPod from college was taken.
The Society of Professional Journalists released a statement condemning the search. Carmody himself has tweeted out that he has received support and messages from all over the world, including Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.
Adachi’s successor and current San Francisco public defender, however, praised the police for their actions.
“All of our criminal justice and City Hall leaders agree that the release of police reports in this fashion is wrong,” he said in a statement. “I am pleased that Chief Scott and others (are) keeping their word and working to get to the bottom of it.”
Friends of Carmody have started a GoFundMe to help with the cost of replacing his equipment. The fundraiser started on Saturday and has already surpassed its goal of $10,000.
Medical Workers Sign Letter Urging Spotify to Combat Misinformation, Citing Joe Rogan
The letter accused Spotify of “enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research.”
Doctors and Medical Professionals Sign Letter to Spotify
A group of 270 doctors, scientists, and other medical workers signed an open letter to Spotify this week urging the audio platform to implement a misinformation policy, specifically citing false claims made on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.
Rogan has faced no shortage of backlash over the last year for promoting vaccine misinformation on his show, which airs exclusively on Spotify. Most recently, he invited Dr. Robert Malone on a Dec. 31 episode that has since been widely criticized by health experts.
Dr. Malone was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. According to the medical experts who signed the letter, he “used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”
“Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” the letter continued. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”
Joe Rogan’s History of COVID-19 Misinformation
Rogan sparked swift criticism himself in the spring of 2021 when he discouraged young people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He also falsely equated mRNA vaccines to “gene therapy” and incorrectly stated that vaccines cause super mutations of the virus. He took ivermectin after testing positive for the virus in September, despite the fact that the drug is not approved as a treatment for COVID.
“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the doctors and medical workers wrote.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” they continued. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Rolling Stone was the first outlet to report on the letter from the medical professionals. Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, was among the signees. She told the magazine that Rogan is “a menace to public health.”
“These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue,” she said. “And there are really not.”
Spotify had not responded to the letter as of Thursday.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Deadline) (Insider)
Data Shows Omicron May be Peaking in the U.S.
In some cities that were first hit by the surge, new cases are starting to flatten and decline.
New Cases Flattening
After weeks of recording-breaking cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, public health officials say that new COVID infections seem to be slowing in the parts of the country that were hit the hardest earlier on.
Following a more than twentyfold rise in December, cases in New York City have flattened out in recent days.
New infections have even begun to fall slightly in some states, like Maryland and New Jersey. In Boston, the levels of COVID in wastewater — which has been a top indicator of case trends in the past — have dropped by nearly 40% since the first of the year.
Overall, federal data has shown a steep decline in COVID-related emergency room visits in the Northeast, and the rest of the country appears to be following a similar track.
Data from other countries signals the potential for a steep decline in cases following the swift and unprecedented surge.
According to figures from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, cases rose at an incredibly shocking rate for about a month but peaked quickly in mid-December. Since then, new infections have plummeted by around 70%.
In the U.K., which has typically been a map for how U.S. cases will trend, infections are also beginning to fall after peaking around New Year’s and then flattening for about a week.
Despite these recent trends, experts say it is still too early to say if cases in the U.S. will decline as rapidly as they did in South Africa and the parts of the U.K. that were first hit.
While new infections may seem to be peaking in the cities that saw the first surges, caseloads continue to climb in most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, hospitals are overwhelmed and health resources are still strained because of the high volume of cases hitting all at once.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (The Wall Street Journal)
COVID-Driven School Closures Top Record Highs, But Many Remain Open
While some districts have implemented protective measures, many teachers say they fall short.
Schools Respond to Omicron Surge
U.S. COVID cases, driven by the omicron variant, are continuously topping new record highs, posing difficult questions for schools resuming after winter break.
According to Burbio, a data firm that tracks school closures, at least 5,409 public schools canceled classes or moved to remote learning by the end of last week due to COVID — more than triple the number at the end of December.
That is still only a fraction of the nation’s 130,000 schools, and many of the biggest school districts in the country are still insisting that students come into the classroom.
Los Angeles, which is home to the second-biggest district, is requiring that students at least test negative before they return to school this week.
In the biggest district of New York City, classes have already resumed following winter break. Although the city has said it will double random tests and send home more kits, students were not required to provide negative results.
Teachers Protest In-Person Learning
Teachers in other major districts have protested the local government’s decisions to stay open.
One of the most closely watched battles is in Chicago, where students on Monday missed their fourth consecutive day of school due to a feud between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D).
Last week, the union voted to return to remote learning in defiance of a city-wide order mandating they teach in-person, citing inadequate COVID-19 protections. Lightfoot claimed the conditions were fine and that students were safe, despite record surges, instead opting to cancel classes altogether while the fight plays out.
On Sunday, the union said it was “still far apart” from making any kind of agreement with public school officials after Lightfoot rejected their demands.
Lightfoot, for her part, has said she remains “hopeful” a deal could be reached, but she also stirred up the union by accusing teachers of staging an “illegal walkout” and claiming they “abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families.”
Meanwhile, teachers in other school districts have begun to emulate the tactics in Chicago.
On Friday, teachers in Oakland, California staged a “sick-out,” promoting 12 schools serving thousands of students to close.