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KBI knew about search warrants prior to raids on Marion newspaper, court docs say

Marion County Record Search Warrant.png
Posted at 9:30 PM, Oct 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-04 22:41:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gideon Cody, the former police chief of Marion, Kansas, fired back at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and others Wednesday in response to a lawsuit filed by a Deb Gruver, a reporter from the Marion County Record newspaper.

Cody claims in the response the search warrant served Aug. 11 at the newspaper had been "drafted in part by Marion County Sheriff's deputies, reviewed in whole or in part by Kansas Bureau of Investigation Agent Todd Leeds and his KBI supervisor, Bethany Popejoy," the response to the lawsuit states.

On Aug. 13, Kansas Bureau of Investigation sent KSHB I-Team reporter Jessica McMaster a statement after the raid began to draw criticism.

The Marion Police Department and the Marion County Attorney asked the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) to join an investigation into allegations of illegal access and dissemination of confidential criminal justice information. The KBI assigned an agent to this case last Tuesday, and has been assisting since that time. The KBI agent did not apply for the search warrants in question, and he was not present when the warrants were served.
Kansas Bureau of Investigation

In addition, Cody claims he discussed the warrant with County Attorney Joel Ensey, and despite participating in emails and meetings, Ensey has since advised Chief Cody that he did not actually read the documents that Cody sent to him including the draft search warrant affidavits and search warrants which were sent to him.

Ensey withdrew Cody's warrants just days after the raid, citing a lack of evidence.

The I-Team has repeatedly asked Ensey if he reviewed the warrants prior to the raids. Ensey has refused to answer the question.

Cody also claims in his response to the reporter's lawsuit that at no time did any other law enforcement agency, or Ensley, advise Cody that they should not proceed forward with a search warrant, or instead merely send subpoenas to obtain on evidence of the crimes committed.

The warrants were for three locations, including the newspaper's offices.

The search warrant and the searches set off a firestorm of publicity after a reporter from the newspaper downloaded the driving record of the owner of a restaurant in Marion.

Gruver also claims one of her fingers was injured during the search.

Cody denies that claim in his response.

"Defendant specifically denies that he acted in an unnecessarily violent fashion, noting that shortly after taking her cell phone, Plaintiff Gruver is visible on body cam footage using the alleged injured finger to hold a cigarette," the response states. "Further, Plaintiff Gruver advised Officer Hudlin at the scene that she had injured (dislocated) her finger at another time so she was “worried about anyone touching it.” Plaintiff Gruver refused to complete an injury report.

Cody, who worked for the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department for 24 years, resigned as Marion's police chief on Tuesday.

Senior I-Team reporter Jessica McMaster reached out to both KBI and Ensey about Cody's allegations but neither the agency nor Ensey were immediately available.