Report from Chesapeake

The crowd for yesterday's Ryan Frederick rally was modest in size. I arrived at around 10:45am, and at the time there were about as many members of the media as there were supporters. A glum, cold rain might have had something to do with the turnout. I hung around until about 2, and I'd say that over that span, a total of 100 to 120 people showed up at one point or another.

The crowd was a mix of Frederick's family, friends, and former co-workers, along with a smattering of people from the community who'd seen his jailhouse interview on television or read about him in the paper. About a half dozen local libertarian activists also showed up.

There were no dissenters while I was there. In fact, I've yet to see a negative word about Frederick in any of the coverage of the raid from local media, at least from anyone who knows him. The worst thing I've yet to read about the guy came from special prosecutor Paul Ebert—who's never met Frederick and came to the case from the other side of the state—when at the bond hearing, Ebert called Frederick, "A potential danger to society."

Susan Milne, a woman in her 50s who worked with Frederick at the Virginia Beach Resort & Conference Center (where Frederick was a banquet manager) described him as "very passive, loving, giving, honest—I wish I had more adjectives. He's such a sweet kid. I feel so bad for him."

Michelle Berard, a hairdresser in Virginia Beach, doesn't know Frederick, but decided to come after seeing his jailhouse interview on the local news. "I could tell he was honest and scared," she said. "This raiding people's houses is a failed policy, and they know it. They should admit it and let him go. What happened to that cop is sad, but two wrongs don't make a right."

Retired naval inspector W.O. Jones showed up with his wife around noon to give $50 to Frederick's defense fund. "New stories like this arise every day in this area," he said. "I'm tired of this. I'm here because if I was in that kid's shoes, I'd have done the same thing."

Frederick was also recently engaged. Family friend Amy Jones, who also worked with Frederick in Virginia Beach, says Frederick's been emotionally devastated since the raid. Others close to Frederick I spoke with say he repeteadly smacked his head against the patrol car window, and vomitted on the way to the police station. "We were afraid they were going to put him on suicide watch," Jones said. "He's doing better now. But he doesn't know why this happened to him."

Frederick's neighborhood is working class. Several people described it as "rough," though, one local resident clarified, noting that I drove down from Washington, "Rough by Chesapeake standards, not by D.C. standards." Supporters who know Frederick personally also mentioned his recently deceased mother, who once worked for the sheriff's department, explaining that he wasn't someone with any animus toward law enforcement.

I spoke with one of Frederick's neighbors and several farmily members, though not for attribution. Both Chesapeake police detectives and Frederick's attorney James Broccoletti have asked neighbors not to talk to the media. In fact, both sides have told everyone close to Frederick not to talk to reporters. I found, though, that Frederick's supporters are fairly eager to tell what they know anyway, and tend to open up with little prodding. The Chesapeake police department and Broccoletti aren't commenting right now.

Here are a few other items that came out yesterday:

• Three separate people close to Frederick told me that Frederick and Broccoletti are now aware of the informant's identity. All three said it's an acquaintance of Frederick's, that the informant has a criminal record, and that it was the informant who broke into Frederick' house three days before the raid. Again, this hasn't been confirmed by Broccoletti, Chesapeake PD, or Paul Ebert. But it certainly meshes with Frederick's jailhouse interview, in which he told Virginian-Pilot reporter John Hopkins that police told him as they arrested him they knew about the prior break-in, and that they knew who had done it.

• One neighbor I spoke with said Frederick is "not—not—a drug dealer." "He's a good kid," the neighbor said, "He's worked hard from the time he was young. And let me tell you something. I'm not supposed to talk about the case, but all the truth isn't out in this. You're going to hear much, much more before this is over." This neighbor also confirmed that Frederick is an early riser, which would explain why he was sleeping at 8:30pm that night. "My husband goes to work at 4:30 in the morning. Ryan would usually be gone by the time he left. I can tell you, my husband goes to bed at 8 or 8:30, too. You have to when you get up at a quarter to four."

• Friends, neighbors, and two of Frederick's former roommates confirmed to me that Frederick is an avid gardener. The yard behind his home includes an elaborate pond with fish, and a variety of tropical plants. Several people also confirmed that he did in fact raise Japanese Maples.

• The neighbor I spoke with says Frederick has near unanimous support from his neighborhood. I say "near" because, oddly enough, I was told Chesapeake's police chief apparently lives one street over. But the people I spoke with say they know of no neighbors who heard any police announcement the night of the raid. The houses in Frederick's neighborhood are spaced fairly close together. And the raid was early enough—8:30pm—that they say if the police had announced loud enough for a sleeping Frederick to hear, several people nearby should have heard something, too. Thus far, it seems that no one did.

• The same neighbor said she and Frederick's other neighbors don't believe Shivers was in the yard when he was shot, as Ebert asserted at last week's bond hearing. This neighbor also says that only Shivers and his partner served the warrant, not the 13 police officers Ebert also claimed at the hearing. "When my dog started barking, I went outside," the neighbor told me. "I only saw two cops. The others only started showing up after Detective Shivers was already down."

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. Ebert's assertion that more than a dozen officers served the warrant was clearly an effort to make it seem implausible that Frederick could have mistaken the raiding police for criminals.

It's significant that Frederick has support from the people who live around him. One woman I spoke with says there's little tolerance in the neighborhood for drug dealing. She said she's called the police herself on a house nearby that was known to be slinging dope. If Frederick were dealing, she says, his neighbors would be glad to have him out of the area. Instead, they're coming to his defense.

Just judging from similar cases I've looked over the last few years, I'd say Frederick still has an uphill battle. But it's notable that the community seems to be growing increasingly skeptical of the way the investigation and warrant service were handled. Comments at the Virginian-Pilot website have gone from mostly calling for Frederick's head shortly after the raid, to a fairly healthy majority now expressing doubt about Frederick's guilt. It helps that the Pilot's coverage has been pretty fair—much more balanced and less deferential to the police than I've seen in the past after a botched drug raid leads to an officer's death.

Prior coverage of the Frederick case here.

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  • ||

    A glum, cold raid might have had something to do with the turnout.

    Is that supposed to be "a glum, cold rain..."? Not that this isn't appropriate anyway.

  • Radley Balko||

    Fixed, thanks.

  • ||

    Japanese maples = code word for something, WTF?

  • ||

    As the link points out, the leaves of the Japanese maple bear a certain resemblance to those of the cannabis plant, the logical inference being that the informant made precisely that mistake when told the police that Frederick was growing marijuana.

    To employ a phrase commonly used around here - please, RTFA.

  • Jennifer||

    When this travesty is over, I hope Frederick sues for a sum of money that leaves him set for life.

  • ||

    Thanks for another extremely informative update to this case.

    It will be interesting to see how it turns, but the fact that he had that tiny bit of marijuana at his house does give the prosecution a great hand to play. It's good to hear that despite this, and the obvious police attempt to exaggerate its extent, the neighbors and friends of Fredrick have rallied to his side. Hopefully he'll find his way out from behind bars soon, so he can return to his legitimate gardening hobby and his legitimate job.

    Any word from gov. kaine on the case? Is there any chance he'd grant a pardon/clemency if Frederick is convicted?

  • ||

    Good update. One more typo though - second to last paragraph - "people"

  • Episiarch||

    This poor, poor, kid. I still cannot understand the pig mentality: let's railroad him. Shoot a cop, even under the most understandable circumstances--death penalty.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    Jeez oh man Radley, I don't know how to express my gratitude for your diligence and my admiration for the work you do. I don't want to hyperbolize, but you are a hero in every sense of the word. You do the heavy lifting for a journalistic community that forgot what their purpose was long ago.

    The attention you bring to situations like these means so much for the subjects of your tireless reporting, but it means even more to long-term rights for everyone in this country. You change attitudes with your passion and eloquence, and you move people with your direct and humble style.

    Please don't ever stop doing this. Please.

  • zig zag man||

    We have a young man here in Colorado, Tim Masters, who spent 9 years of his life in prison for being the "wrong kind of kid". The cops and prosecuters railroaded his ass into prison. They focused in on him, while the victim's boyfriend, a real piece of work, was never even considered.

    The victim's boyfriend was a dentist or doctor and he committed suicide after he was found to be a pervert and videoing women and girls in his office bathrooom.

    Now that Tim has been exonorated of the crime, all we hear are crickets chirping.

    Everything regarding the case is sealed, yup, gotta cover their asses, while a "good, kind, caring kid got railroaded into the slammer.

  • .||

    O god - enough of the Balko hero worship. This is a good-enough piece, but no better than has been appearing in the local paper, which as Radley says, is doing an excellent job...

  • Winter Soldier||

    Maybe so, but I'll bet there aren't many people outside Chesapeake, let alone Virginia, reading the Pilot. I'll say the same thing I did when Radley first posted this story. The lawsuit should come from Det. Shivers family, and it should be HUGE. That will be the only way this sort of shit might stop.

  • Thomas Paine\'s Goiter||

    http://digg.com/politics/Hit_Run_Report_from_Chesapeake

    ALso:

    DUGG

  • ||

    Outside of the The Virginian-Pilot, Radley is about the only source of original reports on the issue.

  • ||

    "This is a good-enough piece, but no better than has been appearing in the local paper, which as Radley says, is doing an excellent job..."

    If it wasn't for Radley, no one would be reading about this travesty. Let's see, who else is reporting on this, other than the local fish wrap.


    CNN? No
    NBC? No
    CBS? No
    ABC? No
    FOX? No
    MSNBC? No

    Considering the amount of mainstream press Mr. Frederick is receiving, if it wasn't for Radley, who else would be exposing this?

  • ||

    It's as if the media and government want us to believe this is an "isolated incidence" of negative outcome in our noble war on drugs.

    Meanwhile back on the farm, the Texas republicans are backing a religious ultra-conservative in the primary for Ron Paul's seat in congress. On his website, this ole boy says the war on drugs can be won.

    I think he should have his meds checked.

  • ||

    O god - enough of the Balko hero worship.

    You seem to have conflated and confused appreciation, respect and gratitude for sychophantic brown nosing.

    Hang around and you may learn the difference. Radley is doing, other than what he receives here, a thankless job. One, as pointed out, few are doing and I for one would have never heard of this case otherwise, since all it has is very local coverage.

  • ||

    CNN? No
    NBC? No
    CBS? No
    ABC? No
    FOX? No
    MSNBC? No


    Reason Magazine? Yes. I have neither the time nor inclination to read every middle sized newspaper in the country. I'd would certainly have missed the Virginian Pilot, and local Chesapeake TV news reports on the events.

    Ryan Frederick is a poor, 23 year old male, struggling through his early adulthood, who, along with Officer Shivers, is a victim of the the War on Drugs Youth. If he were a dead 18 year old wealthy white female, we'd be unable to avoid the coverage if we wore blinders and earplugs. His life is being ruined, by the government, a police officer is dead, the government is stonewalling, and the national MSM doesn't see fit to report on it.

    Thanks again to Radley Balko and his employer, The Reason Foundation.

  • ||

    "Thanks again to Radley Balko and his employer, The Reason Foundation."

    Well played sir!

  • jj||

    I want to join the chorus of appreciation Radley, by thanking you for your tremendous reporting. You're doing a great job.

  • ||

    I have posted about this situation at Koiphen, the major koi pond blog.

    I'm interested in seeing what that community has to say about the issue.

  • ||

    I have posted about this situation at Koiphen, the major koi pond blog.

    Goddam, but I love the intertubez.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    When this travesty is over, I hope Frederick sues for a sum of money that leaves him set for life.

    Where do people get this crazy idea that you can successfully sue a city or the police?
    Unless it is something they expressly permit like employment discrimination/harassment.

  • Jennifer||

    Where do people get this crazy idea that you can successfully sue a city or the police?

    Civil rights violations.

    And I echo all the previous praise for Radley Balko here. If the country had a dozen more like him, I wouldn't be so gloomy about its future.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    Where do people get this crazy idea that you can successfully sue a city or the police?

    Civil rights violations.


    Good luck with that!

  • NP||

    Radley, you the man. Keep giving 'em hell.

  • ||

    Actually, this would appear to be a difficult case for a civil rights suit, based on what has been reported on this blog. The police did have a search warrant authorizing entry into the home. Assuming that the informant gave false information to police, that is not a Fourth Amendment violation unless police knew the information to be false, or at least recklessly disregarded truth or falsity.

    From what Radley has reported, it would appear that police failed to comply with the "knock and announce" rule. This rule, however, is subject to exceptions: it is not necessary when circumstances present a threat of physical violence, or if there is reason to believe that evidence would likely be destroyed if advance notice were given, or if knocking and announcing would be futile (whatever that means). The Supreme Court has opined that "We require only that police have a reasonable suspicion under the particular circumstances that one of these grounds for failing to knock and announce exists, and we have acknowledged that this showing is not high." Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586, ___, 126 S.Ct. 2159, 2163 (2006) (internal quotation marks and ellipsis omitted).

    To the extent that Mr. Frederick has been charged with homicide without probable cause--an issue which has yet to be determined--the prosecuting attorney is immune from suit for damages. Witnesses are generally immune from suit for testimony given in court.

    The city is not suable under federal civil rights law merely because employs an officer who violates the plaintiff's federal rights. A municipality is suable only where the infringement of civil rights occurs pursuant to a municipal policy (which may include a one-time decision made by the city official(s) with final policymaking authority) or a custom--a well-established, though informal, practice of violating federal rights. It is unlikely that the City of Chesapeake has a policy of ignoring Fourth Amendment requirements in the execution of search warrants.

    Of course, if evidence (other than in court testimony) is being fabricated, that may present a different set of circumstances. I haven't seen that based upon what I have read at this point.

  • ktc2||

    Well, I'm too cool to join any kind of chorus but I will go buy one of his T-shirts.

  • ||

    Well, I'm too cool to join any kind of chorus but I will go buy one of his T-shirts.

    ktc2, you might want to rethink that. There are always a lot of babeliscious girls in the chorus.

  • dingfelder||

    Perhaps you are assuming too much if you assume he likes girls.

    O:-)

  • some dude||

    This is a really interesting story from the same area comparing ryans situation with one like it from 1972.

    http://www.wtkr.com/Global/story.asp?S=7805833

  • Dave W.||

    From what Radley has reported, it would appear that police failed to comply with the "knock and announce" rule.

    There are plenty of grounds, and will be even more when we see how they have tampered with that "broken wooden door."

    My favorite:

    You can't get a warrant to go into someone's dwelling when the alleged grow operation is in an attached garage.

  • Dave W.||

    My next favorite:

    A "confidential informant" who broke into somebody's house is manifestly not "reliable." This ground is nice in that it implicates the warrant issuing judge a bit less.

  • ||

    """"When my dog started barking, I went outside," the neighbor told me. "I only saw two cops."""

    She could hear the dogs barking but not the 2 shots fired. If shots were fired outside, they would have been heard by the neighbors.

  • ||

    Can anyone clear up a bit of confusion for me?

    I can understand the need for "no-knock" if the suspect represents a danger to himself, the public or the police. But why is the risk that he will flush his dope down the toilet worthy of a guns-drawn military style raid?

    Couldn't they just send a municipal worker into the sewers and close off the house's waste line? Going through sewage looking for drugs is disgusting and far from glamorous, but on the other hand, no one is going to get shot.

    Is there some reason that such an approach is unworkable? Or do the police simply prefer blood on their hands to shit on their boots?

  • ||

    Couldn't they just send a municipal worker into the sewers and close off the house's waste line?



    No.

    Sanitary sewer lines on residential streets are around eight inches in diameter.

    By the time sewage reaches lines that are anywhere near accessable the effluent from hundreds or even thousands of homes has built up.

    Now, there have been suggestions of analysing sewage to determine if certain neighborhoods are wothy of attention but I think saner heads have generally prevailed.

  • ||

    I can understand the need for "no-knock" if the suspect represents a danger to himself, the public or the police. But why is the risk that he will flush his dope down the toilet worthy of a guns-drawn military style raid?

    The answer is simple, some years back the authorities decided that getting their hands on the evidence (controlled substances) was more important than the lives of both the citizens subject to the search and the LEO's executing the search.

    The reality was, under the search rules in force up until the late 1970's/early 1980's, it was very difficult for the police to get the evidence on casual users and petty dealers as they could dispose of a small stash rather quickly. This frustrated LEO's, so they unilaterally changed the rules so they could nail these people. Thus the "no-knock" or "knock/announce/crash the door" search warrants were born. The USSC let them get away with it, as they seem to always find exceptions to the 4th amendment if it deals with drugs.

  • ||

    Don't feel sorry for this guy, he got what was comming to him. He was caught with a bag of the pot, and, in case you didn't know, it is currently illegal in the America. He broke the law, they had no choice but to raid his house and arrest him, and since dangerous drugs were present, for the safety of the officers they needed to do a know knock raid because they didn't know if he was going to be violent from being on the pot.

  • Daniel||

    That's the worst troll attempt I've ever seen. Away with you.

  • beetlejuice||

    "violent for being on the pot"?!

    The most I've ever seen a pothead attack was a bag of Doritos. Moron.

  • ||

    http://www.wvec.com/news/chesapeake/stories/wvec_local_022708_frederick_warrant_.16954f5.html

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