There has been a tragic development in the story of the Kansas newspaper that was raided by law enforcement on Friday. Joan Meyer, the co-owner of the Marion County Record newspaper, died on Saturday after dealing with police officers raiding her home and place of business.
The co-owner’s death comes on the heels of a national controversy over law enforcement’s decision to carry out a search of the newspaper’s employees and facilities:
The co-owner of local newspaper the Marion County Record has died after being ‘traumatized’ by a police home raid that was green-lighted to seize information on a story that hadn’t even been published.
Joan Meyer, 98, collapsed and died following the intense stress and grief she felt when her home was raided by the entirety of the Marion Police Department in Kansas.
The elderly woman, who co-owned the newspaper with her son Eric, was subjected to the raid by five officers and two sheriff’s deputies on Friday – which caused her to be ‘stressed beyond her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief.’
Eric, 69, has bashed the officers for their ‘Gestapo’ tactics in an attempt to seize information that hadn’t even gone to presses yet. Police have defended their actions.
Ms Meyer could not eat or sleep after the traumatizing hours-long ordeal. She was crying while the police raided her home and took her Alexa smart speaker – and died one day later.
The newspaper plans to file a lawsuit against the City of Marion over the search. “Our first priority is to be able to publish next week,” said Eric Meyer. “But we also want to make sure no other news organization is ever exposed to the Gestapo tactics we witnessed today.”
The controversy started over a conflict between the Marion County Record and the owner of a local coffee shop. Eric Meyer, Joan’s son and co-owner of the newspaper, was kicked out of the coffee shop while it hosted a member of Congress. Kari Newell, the owner of the restaurant, said she was concerned about the reporter misquoting those attending the event.
During an interview, Eric Meyer said his mother was overwhelmed by the ordeal. “She made a point last night to say the officers were polite. But it was just annoying to have them there,” he explained.
“All the raids appeared to be simultaneous,” Meyer said, adding that police “wouldn’t complete them until the police chief himself was there. The chief went to the newspaper offices first and officers were just standing at my mother’s house for two, three hours before the chief showed up.”
“They showed up like the Gestapo.”
He added that during the raid at the Marion County Record’s office, his business manager was left standing outside for hours.
Eric also noted that the raid has hampered the paper’s ability to publish another edition because of the equipment the police seized. The incident occurred after a confidential source informed him that Newell had been convicted of driving under the influence and also driving without a license. This could spell trouble for the restaurant owner because it could cause her to lose her liquor license and harm her catering business.
Meyer decided against publishing the story and contacted law enforcement about the leak. “We thought we were being set up,” he told reporters.
The Marion County Police Department contends that the raid was related to suspicions of computer and identity theft. The warrant indicates that law enforcement could seize material “pertaining to Kari Newell.” The police chief expressed confidence in the validity of the raid:
The chief said that the federal Privacy Protection Act “does protect journalists from most searches of newsrooms”—and requires police to use a subpoena rather than a search warrant—unless the journalists “themselves are suspects in the offense that is the subject of the search.” He added that investigators must obtain a subpoena when seeking “work product materials” and “documentary materials” from the press, except in certain circumstances, including “when there is reason to believe the journalist is taking part in the underlying wrongdoing.”
“The Marion Kansas Police Department believes it is the fundamental duty of the police is to ensure the safety, security, and well-being of all members of the public,” he added. “This commitment must remain steadfast and unbiased, unaffected by political or media influences, in order to uphold the principles of justice, equal protection, and the rule of law for everyone in the community.
“The victim asks that we do all the law allows to ensure justice is served,” he added. “I believe when the rest of the story is available to the public, the judicial system that is being questioned will be vindicated.”
Meyer stated that his attorney has submitted a number of requests to view the affidavit providing probable cause to apply for the warrant. So far, the department has not complied with the request.