Marion County Record/AP
A surveillance image provided by the Marion County Record shows officers confiscating the newspaper’s computers and cellphones on Aug. 11.
The Marion, Kansas, police chief who ordered a widely condemned police raid on a local newspaper and its publisher’s home this summer has resigned, the city’s mayor said.
Marion Police Department Chief Gideon Cody resigned Monday, Mayor David Mayfield told CNN, but declined further comment, calling it a “personal matter.”
Officer Zach Hudlin has been named Marion’s acting police chief, the mayor said. According to a copy of the search warrant, Hudlin was present during the search of the Marion County Record and seized items from the newspaper, including a reporter’s cellphone.
CNN has reached out to Hudlin for comment.
The Kansas Peace Officers Association did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on Cody’s resignation.
The chief’s departure comes after he was suspended last week as an investigation into the raid continues.
In August, officers searched the Marion County Recorder’s office and the home of the newspaper’s editor and a county councilwoman, seizing cellphones and computers from reporters, among other items. The move drew widespread criticism from news organizations and press freedom advocates.
The paper’s editor, Eric Meyer, said he believes the raid in Marion – about 60 miles north of Wichita – was sparked by a story about a local restaurant owner. However, authorities said they were investigating what they called “identity theft” in a search warrant.
Cody suggested at the time that the raids were based on the belief that a reporter had improperly obtained the restaurant owner’s driving records before the newspaper published a story about her, according to unredacted affidavits obtained by CNN.
But less than a week after the raids, Marion County’s top prosecutor, Joel Ensey, withdrew the search warrants and ordered authorities to return the seized materials. He said: “There is insufficient evidence to establish a legally sufficient connection between this alleged crime and the locations searched and the items seized.”
The former police chief also faces a federal lawsuit filed by Marion County Record reporter Debbie Gruver. She accuses Cody of violating her constitutional rights by obtaining an “unreasonable and unlawful” search warrant and seizing her personal property, the complaint says.
The lawsuit alleges Cody targeted Gruver because he knew she had investigated allegations of misconduct against the chief during his time with the Kansas City Police Department, although the newspaper did not publish those allegations.
In addition to confiscating her computer, Gruver said Cody also confiscated her personal cell phone, which the lawsuit says was not within the scope of the warrant. Cody did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment at the time.
It’s not just the police chief who has faced backlash over the raids.
Judge Laura Viar, who signed a warrant authorizing the searches, is facing a complaint about her decision and has been asked by a judicial branch to respond, according to records the complainant shared with CNN.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is now the lead law enforcement agency handling the police raids on Meyer’s office and home, the office previously told CNN.