A freelance photographer is alleged to have offered a TV news station confidential police information on the death of San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi in exchange for money, an official with the Public Defender's office said Thursday at a Board of Supervisor's committee hearing.
City Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer called for the hearing in front of the Government Audit and Oversight Committee to look into the policies the Police Department has in place for the release of private information.
Following the unexpected Feb. 22 death of Adachi, 59, at a North Beach apartment, news reports citing a police report, complete with pictures of the apartment, surfaced detailing the investigation into his death.
During Thursday's hearing, Supervisor Hillary Ronen called the leaked report "disgusting."
Hadi Razzaq, with the Public Defender's Investigation Unit, said a TV news reporter told him that the photographer offered the leaked police report to their station for $2,500. That station, however, reportedly couldn't afford the price and the photographer went on to sell it other news outlets, he said.
"The report was released prematurely at best, and far more concerning was sold to the media," he said. "And something the public should be aware of is that the police report was in the hands of media within hours of Mr. Adachi's death in a situation where the police themselves viewed the location as a possible crime scene and ongoing investigation. The fact that this happened involving the elected public defender who had a history of batting the police, exposing misconduct, is all the more troubling."
Adachi's widow, Masuko Adachi, fighting back tears, said at the hearing, "It was despicable what the police did to myself and my daughter... We had no privacy. It was an ongoing investigation and I don't believe that they should have released it.
To say that it doesn't affect the family is an understatement. It's incredibly painful to have the Police Department do this to you."
Police Cmdr. Greg McEachern offered an apology to Adachi's family and said the department was conducting an investigation, adding that anyone found responsible would be held accountable.