Former Reporter Settles for $235,000 After Controversial Police Raid on Kansas Newspaper

By Trish Svoboda

A former reporter at The Marion County Record, a weekly newspaper in Kansas, has settled for $235,000 in a lawsuit she filed regarding a police search.

On June 25, Deb Gruver, a former reporter, reached a $235,000 settlement in her lawsuit against former Marion police chief Gideon Cody. Gruver alleged that Cody injured her hand while forcibly taking her personal phone during a raid on the newspaper.

On August 11, 2023, local police and county sheriff’s deputies raided The Record offices, as well as the homes of a councilwoman and the newspaper’s publisher. This raid was linked to allegations involving a local restaurateur in an unpublished story that police had discovered.

The incident ignited a national debate over First Amendment rights and the responsibilities of a free press. In addition, it caused outrage after the newspaper’s 98-year-old co-publisher died of a heart attack during the raid on her home.

The raid by the Marion Police Department was initiated by a complaint from local restaurant owner Kari Newell, who accused The Record of illegally obtaining information about her.

Five officers, representing the entire Marion Police Department, along with two sheriff’s deputies, arrived at The Record offices and seized “everything we have,” according to Eric Meyer, the newspaper’s publisher and co-owner, as told to the Kansas Reflector, a nonprofit news site.

The Record reported that computers, including the newspaper’s file servers, and staff members’ personal cell phones were confiscated.

In an article for The Record, Eric Meyer wrote that Kari Newell, who was seeking a liquor license, had previous convictions for drunk driving and driving without a license.

Meyer decided not to publish the story. Instead, he informed the police, who then launched an investigation and obtained a search warrant for evidence of identity theft and criminal use of a computer.

A search warrant, posted online by the Kansas Reflector, was approved by a judge who cited probable cause that crimes had been committed. Lawsuits filed by four other newspaper employees against the police are still pending.

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