Video shows Kansas newspaper owner, 98, giving police hell over ‘trespassing’ raid hours before death from stress

The co-owner of a local newspaper was captured on surveillance video calling out police officers for raiding her home, just hours before the 98-year-old collapsed and died, partly from the stress induced by the raid.

Joan Meyer co-owned the Marion County Record in Kansas. When police arrived at her home with a search warrant in connection to an identity theft investigation, she gave them a piece of her mind.

“Don’t you touch any of that stuff,” she said during the raid on 11 August. “This is my house. You a**hole!”

The surveillance video from inside the journalist’s home, which she shared with son and paper co-owner Eric Meyer, was released by the Record on Monday.

Ms Meyer can be seen in the footage using her walker to get into the face of one of the officers, telling him to wait outside during the raid.

“Did your mother ever love you,” she says. “Get out of my house. You’re trespassing.”

Two of the officers can be seen trying to calm her down while four others search the home. But Ms Meyer moves around the couch, telling one of the officers to “get out of my way” so that she can see what is happening during a search of her “personal papers”.

“I want to see what they’re doing,” she said.

Within a day of the raid, Ms Meyer collapsed in the middle of speaking and died, with a coroner’s report stating that she suffered “sudden cardiac arrest” after not eating or sleeping following the raid, The Daily Beast reported.

“This was extremely upsetting to Joan and caused her to remain angry and upset throughout the day and night,” the report says.

She “fell back on the bed unresponsive” after 1pm on 12 August, it says.

The raids against the local paper have prompted national criticism and concern about the Record’s First Amendment rights being violated.

The raid at the home of the paper owners was just one of three that took place on 11 August, in addition to the paper’s offices and Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel’s home.

Footage of the raid at the offices of the paper shows officers joking as they removed computer towers and documented passwords, The Daily Beast noted.

Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey withdrew the search warrant on Wednesday after finding that “insufficient evidence exists to establish a legally sufficient nexus between the alleged crime and the places searched and the items seized”.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has taken charge of the case, and the seized items have been returned and won’t be reviewed.

At least five computer towers, two cell phones, and an external hard drive were seized in the raids, according to court documents.

Affidavits also showed that the raids were in connection to a probe into allegations of identity theft after a confidential source leaked sensitive documents to a reporter at the paper regarding Kari Newell, a restaurant owner in the area, The Daily Beast reported.

Mr Meyer told The Daily Beast that his paper received information regarding Ms Newell’s DUI, but that The Record didn’t write a story on it. He instead told the local police.

In an affidavit to get the warrant, Police Chief Gideon Cody claimed that “downloading the document involved either impersonating the victim or lying about the reasons why the record was being sought”.

A lawyer for The Record, Bernie Rhodes, pushed back on the claims made in the affidavit, saying that the reporter confirmed the tip using publically available information.

The attorney said the court documents “confirm that the only ‘crime’ being investigated was the crime of reporting”.

“The affidavits show that Chief Cody knew that a source provided Kari Newell’s driver’s record to both the paper and the vice-mayor—so neither the reporter nor the vice-mayor illegally obtained anything, yet they were the subject of the search,” Mr Rhodes told The Daily Beast. “All the paper did was attempt to verify the authenticity of the record, using a public website operated by the Kansas Department of Revenue.”

“No laws were broken,” he added.