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Surveillance video shows police seizing items from Kansas newspaper office

Posted at 3:35 PM, Aug 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 09:41:41-04

MARION, Kan. — Surveillance video obtained Monday by the KSHB 41 I-Team shows members of the Marion, Kansas, Police Department seizing computer equipment from the offices of the Marion County Record.

The video shows at least four law enforcement officials, including Marion Chief of Police Gideon Cody examining, photographing and ultimately taking several computer devices and carrying them to another location outside the field of view.

After performing the search warrant at the newspaper's offices, authorities searched the residence of the paper's owner, Eric Meyer.

LINK | Court documents: Police seized 5 computers, 2 cell phones in raid on Kansas newspaper

The seizure has drawn criticism from first amendment and press freedom groups. On Sunday, a consortium of news organizations, including The E.W. Scripps Company on behalf of KSHB-TV and KMCI-TV, co-signed a letter to Cody condemning the Friday raid and calling on authorities to return seized equipment to the newspaper and its owner, Eric Meyer.

Also on Monday, Bernie Rhodes, the attorney representing the newspaper and its owner, Eric Meyer, provided the KSHB 41 I-Team a copy of the search warrant that was served to Meyer at the beginning of Friday’s raid.

LINK | Read the search warrant

Rhodes also provided a copy of a letter he wrote to Cody on behalf of the newspaper.

“I can assure you that the Record will take every step to obtain relief for the damages your heavy-handed actions have already caused my client,” Rhodes wrote in the letter. “As I stated at the beginning, this letter offers you an opportunity to mitigate those damages moving forward.”

Rhodes continued, “If I were you, I would jump at this opportunity.”

RELATED | Marion Chief of Police retired after length career with Kansas City, Missouri PD

Over the weekend, a KBI spokesperson said the agency assigned an agent to the case on Tuesday, Aug. 8.

The spokesperson said the KBI did not request a search warrant to seize equipment from the newspaper’s offices, nor were its agents present during the raid. It was not clear if the KBI or the agent were aware the warrant was served.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement Monday to KSHB 41 News that her office is waiting for additional information before offering additional comment.

"What we've seen so far about the search and seizure of the Marion County Record newsroom is concerning," Kelly said in the statement. "Protecting local newspapers is essential to protecting small towns - and protecting a free and fair press is essential to protecting our democracy."