Newspaper Owner Yelled at Cops: 'Get Out of My House!'

Security video shows 98-year-old Joan Meyer, who died a day later, ordering raiding police out
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 23, 2023 5:02 PM CDT
Newspaper Owner Yelled at Cops: 'Get Out of My House!'
Security camera footage shows Joan Meyer ordering police to get out of her house as they search it on Aug. 11, 2023, in Marion, Kansas. Meyer, who was 98, died the next day. Her son, Marion County Record Editor and Publisher Eric Meyer, blames his mother's death on the stress caused by the search.   (Eric Meyer via AP)

Newly released video shows the 98-year-old mother of a Kansas newspaper publisher confronting police officers as they searched her home in a raid that has drawn national scrutiny, at one point demanding: "Get out of my house!" Video released by the newspaper shows Joan Meyer shouting at the six officers inside the home in Marion, Kansas, she shared with her son, Marion County Record Editor and Publisher Eric Meyer. Standing with the aid of a walker and dressed in a robe and slippers, she seems visibly upset. "Get out of my house ... I don't want you in my house!" she says at one point, per the AP. "Don't touch any of that stuff! This is my house!" Joan Meyer died a day later. Her son says he believes that the stress contributed to her death.

The raids of the newspaper and the homes of the Meyers and a City Council member happened on Aug. 11, after a local restaurant owner accused the newspaper of illegally accessing information about her. A prosecutor said later that there was insufficient evidence to justify the raids, and some of the seized computers and cellphones have been returned. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation continues to examine the newspaper's actions. Legal experts believe the police raid on the newspaper violated a federal privacy law or a state law shielding journalists from having to identify sources or to turn over unpublished material to law enforcement.

The raid on the Record put it and its town of around 1,900 residents in the center of a debate about press freedoms and put an intense spotlight on Police Chief Gideon Cody, who led the raids after the newspaper had asked questions about his background. "As far as Chief Cody goes, he can take his high horse he brought into this community and giddy-up on out of town," resident Darvin Markley said during a City Council meeting. "He needs to be fired." Cody didn't respond to messages seeking comment. He said in affidavits used to obtain the warrants that he had probable cause to believe that the Record and City Council member Ruth Herbel, whose home was also raided, had violated state laws against identity theft or computer crimes.

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Meyer says the paper plans to file a lawsuit over the raids. He noted that among items seized were a computer and personal cellphone of a reporter who was uninvolved in the dispute with the restaurant owner—but who had been investigating why Cody left a Missouri police job in April before becoming Marion police chief. Security video overlooking the newsroom showed an officer reading the reporter her rights during the raid. Bernie Rhodes, the newspaper's attorney, said that meant she wasn't free to leave and could have been jailed. "People keep asking me, 'Why haven't you already sued?'" Rhodes says. "I don't want to be rash like the police were. I'm doing a thorough investigation."

(More Kansas stories.)

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