A California police chief reportedly ordered a sergeant to a reporter's home insisting on changes to a news story he perceived to be inaccurate.
The Oakland Tribune reports that Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan ordered the sergeant to the reporter's home minutes after reading the report online, a move First Amendments said reeked of intimidation and attempted censorship.
Jim Ewert, general counsel of the California Newspaper Publisher's Association, characterized Meehan's alleged actions as "totally despicable," he told the newspaper.
"It's the most intimidating type of (censorship) possible because the person trying to exercise it carries a gun," Ewert said.
Bay Area News Group reporter Doug Oakley said he was shaken by the 12:45 a.m. Friday knock on the door of his Berkeley home. Oakley said he and his wife initially thought something was terribly wrong, perhaps that a relative had died.
Meehan apologized Friday.
"I would say it was an overzealous attempt to make sure that accurate information is put out," Meehan said. "I could have done better."
Meehan said he didn't think Oakley would be upset or intimidated because the police sergeant, Mary Kusmiss, regularly deals with the media.
"I did not mean to upset [Oakley] or his family last night; it was late, (I was) tired, too," he said. "I don't dispute that it could be perceived badly."