Ryan Frederick's Preliminary Hearing

Yesterday was the preliminary hearing for Ryan Frederick, the 28-year-old Chesapeake, Virginia man facing murder charges for killing a police officer during a drug raid (see this wiki for more on Frederick's case). The police account of the raid as portrayed in the Virginian-Pilot yesterday differs pretty drastically from other accounts. A few items from the hearing worth noting:

• The police say sixteen officers were present for the raid, and that they were divided into two units, one at the front door to the house, and one unit that was prepared to enter the detached garage. This differs sharply from what Frederick's neighbors told me. One woman told me she came outside after she heard shots, and saw one car and two officers at Frederick's home. It was only later that other officers arrived.

• Pay close attention to this one: According to a reporter I spoke with this evening who attended the hearing, Detective Kelly Roberts testified that the police announced themselves four times, waiting four seconds between announcements. You can see part of this testimony at the Virginian-Pilot link.

After the fourth announcement (presumably, about sixteen seconds), they detected movement in the house. Roberts says a light "changed." It was at this point that they announced "Eight ball! Eight Ball!" a code signaling that the raid had been compromised. At that cue (pardon the billiards pun), they took down the door with the battering ram.Think about the implication, here. The police come to Frederick's home to serve a knock and announce search warrant. He's asleep in his bed. Sixteen seconds after the first knock, it isn't the fact that he hasn't yet come to the door that triggers the violent, forced entry. It's that there is a "change" in the light. It's the light that makes them conclude the raid had been compromised. Not the flush of a toilet, or the cock of a shotgun. A light. How do they know that light isn't someone coming to answer the door, possibly to allow the police to come in for a peaceful search?

What this means is that, as I've written before, there's no real difference between a no-knock and a knock and announce warrant. Once the warrant has been issued your door is coming down, and there's not much you can do about it.

This then raises the question of what exactly you're supposed to do when someone knocks on your door, and announces that they're the police and that they have a search warrant. Don't come to the door, and they're going to break it down and come after you. Come to the door to verify it's really the police (by no means a given)—and to let them in if it is—and your very movement toward the door can, also, be a trigger to break the door down and storm your home. Arm yourself and wait for them to come in? You're practically begging them to shoot you.

Seems your only option is stand somewhere in your own house with your hands in the air, wait for the door to come down, and hope the raiding officers don't mistake your t-shirt for a gun, or possibly trip or mistakenly fire and accidentally kill you. Be prepared to be thrown to the ground, stepped on, handcuffed, and have the barrel of a gun pointed at the back of your head.

This is just one of many conundrums posed by the proliferation of paramilitary-style police raids. The people on the receiving end of the raids are put in positions where it's nearly impossible to even know what the right response is, much less be in a position to make it. Not to mention that, at the same time, they're being subjected to trauma that makes any sort of clear-headedness or careful consideration of their options pretty much impossible.  Make the wrong decision and you're either dead or facing a felony charge.

• Roberts also testified that none of the police officers fired a shot. What, then, are we to make of the .223 casing police recovered from Frederick's home? The police recovered only a .380 pistol from Frederick's home. I haven't been able to get the Chesapeake Police Department to tell me what type of gun the SWAT and narcotics teams carry, but many carry the sort of a gun that would fire a .223. So far, neither the police nor Paul Ebert have offered an explanation for the casing

• Frederick's attorney James Broccoletti made a good point, too. According to Roberts' own testimony, Frederick fired only after the battering ram breached the lower panel of Frederick's door. This is a pretty good indication that Frederick's mindset was one of self defense (never mind his clean record, and praise from neighbors, friends, and prior employers). If this were a premeditated attempt to kill a cop (which no one who knows Frederick says he's capable of ), and if Frederick knew these were police officers due to their alleged repeated announcements, why would he wait until they had broken down his door to begin firing? And why would he give up after firing just two rounds? Those seem like the acts of someone who's scared and uncertain, not someone hellbent on killing himself a cop.

• The prosecution says Det. Shivers was in the front yard when he was shot. Gun experts I've queried say it's doubtful that a bullet from a .380 pistol could go through a door and then, according to the autopsy, also go through Shivers' arm, and then penetrate Shivers' chest.

Frederick has told friends and family that he fired when he saw the bottom part of his door had been breached, and that someone was reaching up through the hole to grasp at the door knob. This seems more plausible, and more consistent with the autopsy. If Shivers was reaching through a hole in the door when Frederick fired at him, it's not difficult to see how a bullet would have first struck Shivers' arm, then his chest. It seems less likely that the bullet would have traveled through Shivers living room, through his front door, into his yard, then through both Shivers' arm and chest.

• Prosecutor Ebert has said that he may file felony drug charges against Frederick at a later date. I find this dubious, given that it's been four months since the raid, and the only illicit substance thus far recovered was the misdemeanor amount of marijuana.I see a few possibilities, here. Ebert could try to tie the gun to the pot possession and get Frederick for using a gun in commission of drug crime. I'm not sure how that sticks, given that Frederick wasn't smoking or selling the drug when the raid went down.

Ebert could also try to say the gardening equipment was evidence of a grow operation, even though the police found no actual marijuana plants. Given that Frederick's neighbors have said he was an avid amateur gardener, I would think it would be pretty easy for him to show the equipment had a legitimate purpose. The third possibility is that Ebert's sitting on some new evidence that he hasn't yet released. If you'll remember, Chesapeake police announced several weeks ago that they had seized Frederick's phone records. Perhaps they're preparing to trot out a few people who will claim to have bought drugs from Frederick. Maybe Frederick did sell some marijuana here and there, though everyone I've talked to insists he was a no more than a recreational, small-time pot smoker. Remember too that it's pretty easy to get an informant to say whatever you want him to, particularly if you're willing to help him wriggle out of other charges. I

In all, today's hearing offered up a bit more of the information that the police department has been sitting on for four months, but it raised quite a few more questions than answers. The case now goes to the grand jury, which is almost certain to indict Frederick on whatever charges Ebert asks from them.

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  • Episiarch||

    Gun experts I've queried say it's doubtful that a bullet from a .380 pistol could go through a door and then, according to the autopsy, also go through Shivers' arm, and then penetrate Shivers' chest.

    It is doubtful, but it could happen. Bullets go through sheet metal (car doors, for instance) and light wood/sheetrock (such as cheap doors) like they're made of paper. However, the .380 is not a powerful round and if Frederick's door was made of more substantial materials then yes, it is highly unlikely that it happened the way the police say.

    But we know they lie. The question is whether the defense attorney can get the jury to realize that.

    Perhaps they're preparing to trot out a few people who will claim to have bought drugs from Frederick.

    They have decided to go to the mat to convict a guy who pretty clearly is harmless and was merely acting in what he thought was self-defense. If they are willing to do this, they will be willing to trot out whoever it takes. This conviction will presumably be substantially harder to get than that of some two-bit criminal, yet they are doing it anyway, showing that they want to fuck him. They'll do whatever is necessary.

  • Other Matt||

    However, the .380 is not a powerful round and if Frederick's door was made of more substantial materials then yes, it is highly unlikely that it happened the way the police say.

    True, it's the little brother of the 9mm, which a lot of police depts have gone away from in favor of the 40SW or the 357Sig. FBI says the 9mm is too weak (hence the 40SW was born) to penetrate much, and the .380 is a 9mm "short" cartridge.

    yet they are doing it anyway, showing that they want to fuck him. They'll do whatever is necessary.

    I hate like hell to agree with this, but I do.

  • ||

    That poor man is so fucked.

    You're doing God's work here, Radley.

  • Ironic||

    Here is a tip for thieves. Get some fake police badges and print out a fake warrant claim you are police. Then take all of the "evidence" you want. Jewelry might have been stolen from a robbery. The money in someone's wallet might have been earned by selling drugs. The computer might have evidence that needs to be discovered in a lab.

  • ||

    Four months to a preliminary hearing?
    They haven't even taken this to the grand jury yet?

    It sounds to me as if the cops have been desperately (but not too successfully) trying to dig up some mud to throw at Frederick.

  • T||

    That poor man is so fucked.

    You're doing God's work here, Radley.


    Amen to that.

    The people on the receiving end of the raids are put in positions where it's nearly impossible to even know what the right response is, much less be in a position to make it.

    My personal opinion still leans heavily towards come up firing and claim temporary insanity due to PTSD if I live through it. My well-known paranoid tendencies should help me out a lot in this situation. If that doesn't pan out, Mexico is pretty close.

  • ||

    So...
    Let me get this straight.
    1) Cops knock and announce themselves.
    2) Nothing happens
    3) Repeat 1&2 3x
    4) The raid is compromised by a changing light
    5) Break the door down.

    So the, what was it, sixteen cops, out on the front lawn, knocking and announcing themselves didn't compromise the raid. But a changing light in the house meant "go time".

    If he hadn't shot the cops, I think I can guess the alternate ending.

    6) ???
    7) Profit

  • Episiarch||

    It sounds to me as if the cops have been desperately (but not too successfully) trying to dig up some mud to throw at Frederick.

    Of course. This is so obvious that I wonder if the defense attorney can use it against the prosecution.

  • Bradley||

    That's 12 seconds, not 16 seconds.

    When they say "police" the first time, that's when the clock starts. When they say "police" the second time, 4 seconds have passed. When they say "police" the third time, 8 seconds have passed. When they say "police" the fourth time, 12 seconds have passed.

  • Episiarch||

    Roberts says a light "changed."

    What this really means is a light came on. But by stating it this way, they can then say that it meant a light was turned off, which would indicate that Frederick was trying to use darkness as cover.

    The depravity of these people is astounding. They are no different than a gang. Someone killed one of theirs, even though it was by accident? That person must pay.

  • ||

    That's 12 seconds, not 16 seconds.

    In that case, Fredricks really is a murderer.

  • ||

    That was sarcasm, btw.

  • ||

    they detected movement in the house. Roberts says a light "changed." It was at this point that they announced "Eight ball! Eight Ball!" a code signaling that the raid had been compromised.

    This is so utterly nonsensical it's harde to believe a "highly educated member of the bar" could be induced to bring it into court.

    "Well, Your Honor, the officers knocked on the door, and announced themselves. When it became evident that the occupant had become aware of their presence, and responded to the knock, the oficers had no other recourse than to break down the door and enter in force."

  • Dave W.||

    They so much need to require that these entries be recorded.

  • Dave W.||

    with 16 cops you would think one could bring a camera.

  • Jozef||

    It seems less likely that the bullet would have traveled through Shivers Frederick's living room, through his front door, into his yard, then through both Shivers' arm and chest.

    Fixed it for you.

  • ||

    What the police should do, in situations such as this, is recruit a group of children from the neighborhood to knock on the door, and say, "Trick or treat!" when the occupant perp comes to the door.

    A police sniper can then take out the subject, from secure concealment, as another officer reads him his rights (via bullhorn) from an armored vehicle. This will reduce the risk to police officers to virtually zero, which is what we are most concerned about.

  • ||

    with 16 cops you would think one could bring a camera.

    Maybe if we pitched it to the police union as a new and distinct job classification....

  • ||

    Dang. Brooks beat me too it. Since when is trying to answer the door "compromising" a knock and announce raid?

  • ||

    Oh, and kudos for the auto-ad for Front Sight firearms training.

  • Other Matt||

    with 16 cops you would think one could bring a camera.

    One did, but the others threatened to arrest him and harrassed the shit out of him so he put it away.

    Oh, and kudos for the auto-ad for Front Sight firearms training.

    Too bad you don't have a screen shot of that, my 'bots aren't quite so good.

  • ||

    Boy I sure would love to be on that Jury. He would WALK. Seems to me that he was 100% in the right and should have taken out ALL the cops that busted their way into his house! Stupid cops got what they deserved.

    JJ
    http://www.fireme.to/udi

  • Other Matt||

    Just because I feel slightly abrasive today, since Balko done ruined another perfectly good morning with shoving the truth of this into my face, anyone want to respond to this ad?

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    We are looking for men and women who thrive on challenges and pride themselves in helping others, and are willing to work hard to learn the necessary skills for this challenging but critical role. Becoming a police officer can be a tough, demanding and unpredictable job, but it is also one of the most rewarding positions you will ever have. Every day that you wear your uniform and badge, you will be making the City of Chesapeake a safer and better place to live for you, your family, your friends and your neighbors. Nothing is more valuable than that.

  • ||

    Since when is trying to answer the door "compromising" a knock and announce raid?

    Apparently, anything but lying prone on the floor and whimpering when the police are within 1,000 yards is "compromising".

  • neednewbed.com||

    When you deal drugs, this thing happens, thats the real message, please alert America when someone who actually is innocent gets in this mess

  • ||

    • Roberts also testified that none of the police officers fired a shot. What, then, are we to make of the .223 casing police recovered from Frederick's home? The police recovered only a .380 pistol from Frederick's home. I haven't been able to get the Chesapeake Police Department to tell me what type of gun the SWAT and narcotics teams carry, but many carry the sort of a gun that would fire a .223. So far, neither the police nor Paul Ebert have offered an explanation for the casing.


    Radley,
    From a previous Agitator post comes this article. In that photo, the SWAT team member in front of the garage looks to be carrying an AR-15 which fires a .223 round. I understand that it's not the same as an inventory from the night of the raid (though Ryan's Lawyer will hopefully obtain that) but it's an interesting piece of photographic history.

  • ktc2||

    This poor guy is royally screwed.

    In the incredibly unlikely event he doesnt spend life in prison (at least) he better get the hell out of the state. They wont leave it alone if he wins (ie. real justice is served) they'll come after him one way or another.

  • ||

    Apparently, anything but lying prone on the floor and whimpering when the police are within 1,000 yards is "compromising".

    That won't work either. Read Balko again Pro Lib. ANY action or INCACTION you take when the cops come to your door means a full on paramilitary invasion. Lying prone on the floor gives you the best odds that no one gets killed. But you're still getting the boot on your neck, arms tie-wrapped in back, and 'what flavor is my gun muzzle' treatment.

  • ||

    neednewbed.com, you must wet yours constantly.

    The best advice to responding to police @ your door came from Barry Cooper's video series - he says the following:
    If the police come to your door and announce themselves, chances are that they're trying to do a "knock and talk" or "tap and rap" search where once you open the door for them they'll wedge in, since by opening your house to them they can legally search it without a warrant. So, if there's ever a group of police at your door, go to a window in sight of the door and put your hands on the window, and shout "I'm standing here, and I'm unarmed - I don't open the door for people I don't know without a warrant, and if you're going to break the door down anyways, I'll be right here."

  • ||

    The people on the receiving end of the raids are put in positions where it's nearly impossible to even know what the right response is, much less be in a position to make it.

    That the courts would consider these kinds of choices "reasonable" (Well, assuming the courts even have the intelligence to acknowledge or appreciate the limited choices such as they are) under the fourth amendment only leads me to believe that Court's authority should be ignored for they have abdicated any indicia of reason.

    And how come I never hear of 16 cop raids on child molesters, rapists, and violent folk? What a bunch of pussies.

  • Bob||

    Occam's Razor. The police are clearly lying in multiple instances of the statements they have made and the testimony they have provided. This only adds perjury and obstruction of justice offenses to their already conspiring to harm Ryan Frederick, threaten his life, invade his home, and destroy his property.

    Finally and most importantly of all, any and every citizen is lawfully entitled to open fire on police and ultimately cause their death in the execution of no-knock warrants. The police in this case chose to behave in a manner indistinguishable from murderers, rapists, violent burglars and other criminal types, and have placed themselves in a position where they can be lawfully executed by citizens.

    For this reason, no crime has been committed by Ryan Frederick. The conduct of the police prior to the raid, during the raid, and following the raid seems to be criminal in nature however, and this should be investigated and acted on appropriately.

  • ||

    Thank goodness they chose to do a SWAT-style raid. Imagine the violence that could have taken place if they'd simply aprehended him outside his home or waited for him to come to the door!

  • ||

    And how come I never hear of 16 cop raids on child molesters, rapists, and violent folk? What a bunch of pussies.

    Oh come on troy. You're being rediculous. Ordinary criminals aren't like the Super-Friends Fortress of Evil Bad Guys that drug dealers are. As soon as a cop sets foot on a street where drug dealers operate, a small army of gang members can be armed with automatic weapons and deployed, hundreds of pounds of narcotics can be flushed down the toilet, and the king pins can load up their escape pods with cash, bling and hos, all by the time they reach the front door.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    That the courts would consider these kinds of choices "reasonable"

    That's because judges homes, like most of middle class American homes, never suffer home invasion by the Gestapo.

  • ||

    I smell perjury. I smell a criminal conspiracy to obstuct justice. Those are felonies. How many cops will lie on the stand in order to cover up another of their "Brothers in Blue" fuckups? Appaerntly the D.A. has lined up sixteen.

    I didn't believe the cops when Kathryn Johnston was muredered (surprise, surprise, no one was ever charged with murder) and I don't believe these cops for a nanosecond.

    I grieve for Officer Shivers. If the law enforcement community really want to honor him, stop this paramilitary insanity. It is long past time. Sadly they would prefer to railroad an innocent young man than admit they fucked the pooch on this one.

    Do any LEO lickspittles supporters wish to disagree with my assessment of the situation in Chesapeake?

  • ||

    "anyone want to respond to this ad?"

    Hopefully they are looking to replace the officers involved in the Ryan raid...

  • ||

    And seriously, I don't think it can be repeated enough that there aren't any cops from the Chesapeake PD taking a stand against their lying fellow LEOs. There is a major structural problem here.

  • ||

    Lying unmoving on the floor, sobbing, and quietly offering $10,000 to the police to not kill anyone, damage anything, or shoot any pets?

  • ||

    Occam's Razor. The police are clearly lying in multiple instances of the statements they have made and the testimony they have provided. This only adds perjury and obstruction of justice offenses to their already conspiring to harm Ryan Frederick, threaten his life, invade his home, and destroy his property.

    So? You're talking as if these were crimes that were committed. These are the acts of law enforcement officers. Now how can a law enforcement officer commit a crime. Use your logic Bob.

    Finally and most importantly of all, any and every citizen is lawfully entitled to open fire on police and ultimately cause their death in the execution of no-knock warrants. The police in this case chose to behave in a manner indistinguishable from murderers, rapists, violent burglars and other criminal types, and have placed themselves in a position where they can be lawfully executed by citizens.

    Now that is one quaint legal theory. I don't know where you live Bob, but here in the 'Merika the law is "Kill a cop - go to prison". And thats if we don't just shoot you on the spot.

    For this reason, no crime has been committed by Ryan Frederick. The conduct of the police prior to the raid, during the raid, and following the raid seems to be criminal in nature however, and this should be investigated and acted on appropriately.

    Now you're just spouting jibber jabber. Settle down Bob. Take a few deep breaths. Remember, these are the police. They were just doing they're duty. They thought this guy was a drug dealer, (and if he wasn't why was he afraid of the police? hmmm?).

  • ||

    How many cops will lie on the stand in order to cover up another of their "Brothers in Blue" fuckups? Appaerntly the D.A. has lined up sixteen.

    Many profess that most cops are good honest cops. Let's do the math, shall we? If half of the cops are honest enough to adamantly abstain from perjury, the odds of randomly getting 16 to lie on the stand are 1 in 65,000. If 90% of cops are that honest, the odds of 16 commiting perjury are 1 in ten quintillion (10^16).

    As you can see, I'd never be allowed on a jury in a case like this.

  • ||

    But Jsub
    Since more than 90% of cops are honest (as is assumed by most Americans), then your probability calculations only stand to PROVE that the cops must be telling the truth.

  • ||

    And seriously, I don't think it can be repeated enough that there aren't any cops from the Chesapeake PD taking a stand against their lying fellow LEOs. There is a major structural problem here.

    Shhh. The first LEO rule is nobody talks about the blue wall of silence. Your average American is not smart enough to see the travesty that law enforecement is. Face it, your fellow citizens are too stupid or too lazy to see the writing on the wall.

    My opinion of LEOs has fallen so far, if a cop and a crack whore testified differently about an event, I'd give them equal credence.

    Don't blame me for that state of affairs.

  • Anon||

    So...paramilitary raid...and the man assigned to breach the door doesn't even have bullet proof armor on? I thought that was a given with SWAT-like units...

  • T||

    Many profess that most cops are good honest cops. Let's do the math, shall we? If half of the cops are honest enough to adamantly abstain from perjury, the odds of randomly getting 16 to lie on the stand are 1 in 65,000. If 90% of cops are that honest, the odds of 16 commiting perjury are 1 in ten quintillion (10^16).

    Your flaw here is assuming a random selection. You can bet your ass all 16 cops were hand picked and coached. There may be honest cops in the Chesapeake PD, but none of the honest ones are going to testify in this case.

  • ||

    But Jsub
    Since more than 90% of cops are honest (as is assumed by most Americans), then your probability calculations only stand to PROVE that the cops must be telling the truth.


    Well, the math is correct. Maybe the 90% assumptions is wrong. Or maybe Kathryn Johnston really was a depraved drug dealing kingpin, with a surveillance system outside her home. Hmmm.

  • ||

    But like you said, most people can't make those kinds of connections J sub. I'm just saying that if you show people your math, they'll immediately jump to the conclusion that the cops are telling the truth. T's right - it's important to stress that it isn't a random selection who are testifying and that those who are not perjuring themselves by testifying are going to hell for staying quiet.

  • ||

    As far as the round going through the guys arm, it is not the size of the round, it is the size of the load. Maybe the guy was shooting some kind of really hot .38 round. I don't shoot .38 so I don't know but it is possible.

    I am realistic. These things are not going to end anytime soon. But, one thing that could be done is for states to pass laws requireing every SWAT raid to be videotaped. Then we would know exactly who was there and what happened. Anytime there is a shootout it is going to be impossible to tell what happened unless you have a tape of it. If the cops had a tape, we would know how many times they identified themselves. Further, if the tape were rolling, they would behave better knowing that they couldn't lie about it later.

  • ||

    Your flaw here is assuming a random selection. You can bet your ass all 16 cops were hand picked and coached. There may be honest cops in the Chesapeake PD, but none of the honest ones are going to testify in this case.

    I used the random qualifier for a reason. You can also bet your ass that numerous "honest cops" are aware of routine perjury committed by their fellow officers brothers in blue and remain silent about it in violation of their oaths.

    You can't have it both ways. The system is fundamentally, perhaps irreparably, broken.

  • ||

    All of this, over a bit of weed? The police and citizens of this country should be ashamed of themselves. Can the advocates of such nonsense, or the police, or the prosecutor, name one person that had his/her rights violated by Mr. Fredricks prior to the raid?

  • ||

    John -
    Clearly helmet-cams are the answer

  • Tsu Dho Nihm||


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    Shot down on the pavement
    Or waiting on death row?

  • Other Matt||

    All of this, over a bit of weed?

    The problem is that this is not over weed any more. I'm sure the prosecutor, which is why Frederick will be fucked with a baseball bat dipped in glass shards, thinks that if they let this go then it will be open season on cops serving warrants. There really is no way to discern if the individuals outside your door, in uniform or not, who are claiming to be police are, in fact, police. At least not within the timeframes they apparantly use here.

    As a result, someone undoubtably feels that if this guy isn't hung high, then others will open fire, claim self defense, and use this case as precedent. So it's not about weed any more, and this guy's only hope is a jury which will be screened to prevent anyone with a libertarian mindset from participating if the DA can help it.

  • ||

    Maybe the guy was shooting some kind of really hot .38 round.

    The .38 is a pretty small round, with pretty low pressures. It doesn't get "really hot" - "pretty warm" is probably the best you can do.

    I think what happened here is that the round slipped in the armhole of his vest, as he was reaching in unlock the door.

  • ||

    "I think what happened here is that the round slipped in the armhole of his vest, as he was reaching in unlock the door."

    Maybe or who knows. There are such things a luck shots. Bullets do wierd things sometimes.

  • ||

    Airstrikes are the answer. We cannot risk our precious law enforcers' lives over a bunch of maniacal, bloodthirsty, drug-crazed hippies.

    Every police department should have Apache gunships with 20mm gatling guns.

  • Orenthal Kennedy-McMellon||

    This conviction will presumably be substantially harder to get than that of some two-bit criminal

    An odd presumption. No conviction is hard to get.

    Some, against politicians and their friends, cops, and celebrities, prosecutors, consciously or not, don't really try to get. The courts' meager acquittal rate is substantially dependant on half-assed trying of a pool of favored defendants.

    The rate could easily be near-zero. For average citizens, it is.

  • Episiarch||

    The .38 is a pretty small round, with pretty low pressures. It doesn't get "really hot" - "pretty warm" is probably the best you can do.

    It was a .380, not a .38 Special. You can't "hot load" semi-auto rounds as they will fuck up the slide action of the semi-auto unless you change the springs, and then regular rounds won't work.

    I seriously doubt Frederick was unusually customizing his handgun and hand-loading unusual hot loads for it.

  • John P||

    keep up the good work, Radley. I'll be back as the story continues to unfold. - J

  • ||

    I have a law enforcement background. I tend to understand and fall on the side of the officer in many cases because a lot of times you just don't know because there aren't enough facts and evidence to corroborate one way or another. Would it be the first time a reporter or neighbor lied their butt off? Doubtful. I tend to believe that most men and women in blue have good intentions and don't run around violating peoples civil liberties for funsies. There's really no incentive to do so.

    That said, I call bullshit on this raid and think this guy should be set free. They have these same kind of no knocks in Houston, only its (actual) criminals dressed in t-shirts and jackets that say "POLICE" on them that are doing them (I believe witness accounts have the crooks yelling "Police" before they knock the door in as well). Haven't heard of one criminal in police gear getting shot yet, though maybe Houston residents could take a lesson from this guy.

    So, in reality, you never know. This guy couldn't have known, and if he didn't have anything to hide (i.e. meth lab, million dollar marijuana field in his backyard, stockpile of stolen guns) he had every obligation and moral right to defend himself. Yelling "Police" is no more a magical command to let someone know you're a cop than yelling "You're under arrest" means someone fleeing from the cop is actually under arrest (Crook stops, catches breath, waits for cop to catch up; "Aww crap you got me, I thought I was gonna make it until I heard you yelling").

    The burden falls on the police and in this case, since this guy obviously had nothing in his home that warranted a no knock in the middle of the night, and one of their own died, whomever planned the raid failed miserably. Bad info. Police can't know what was in the house exactly before they started, but it sounds to me like they didn't even do their job. Mistaking 10 lbs. of weed for 100 lbs. could be a forgiveable mistake (given no lives were lost). Mistaking personal use for felony possession is. Somebody fscked up and deserves a good old fashioned demotion (or termination). Good luck getting someone to own up.

  • ||

    Airstrikes are the answer. We cannot risk our precious law enforcers' lives over a bunch of maniacal, bloodthirsty, drug-crazed hippies.

    It's been done.

  • ||

    Wait a minute.. Four months later, he gets his preliminary hearing?

    His right to a speedy public trial has already been violated. Let the man go.

    -jcr

  • Christ on a Cracker||

    Jan,

    I generally agree with what you are saying. However, you are implying that *if* the guy is in possession of felony amounts of drugs, the officers would have been justified. That doesn't change anything. There is a guy in bed, the cops knock for a few seconds, a light "changes" and the door comes down, shots are fired. This is a tragedy for everyone concerned.

    I don't know how classifying the target of the raid as a "good guy" or "bad guy" changes anything.

    (I know it does. I'm on a philosophical rant today.)

    CoC

  • ||

    Defendants routinely wave their right to a speedy trial so that they can prepare their defense.

  • LarryA||

    As far as the round going through the guys arm, it is not the size of the round, it is the size of the load. Maybe the guy was shooting some kind of really hot .38 round. I don't shoot .38 so I don't know but it is possible.

    I reload .380 ACP. Given the tiny case and the power limits to make a semiauto function properly no load is going to be more than lukewarm.

    Just guessing: If Shivers was reaching through the bottom of the door and the bullet hit high on his arm it could have entered his chest through the vest's armhole.

    But, one thing that could be done is for states to pass laws requiring every SWAT raid to be videotaped.

    It strikes me that many police cruisers are equipped with cameras that go on whenever the light bar is on. Were the cars in this raid so equipped? I know they may not show what happened at the house, but if there were cars for 16 cops out front and back with their lights on, they should have recorded something that would at least show they were in the neighborhood.

  • robc||

    Jay,

    Instead of demotion or termination, how about charging the detectives or whoever who "investigated" and asked for the warrant with negligent homicide.

    I dont think it is too much of a stretch.

    Charging the judge who signed the warrant may be too much.

  • ||

    A reasonably competent defense lawyer would love it if the DA tried to put 16 cops on the stand to say were there from the beginning. Simply more opportunities to poke holes in the story. Once the defense is able to show that a single aspect of the DA's case is bogus, then the whole thing comes crashing down.

    I know, I know, it's all in the jury composition. But I'm somewhat more hopeful in this case, simply because I think the Commonwealth is overreaching badly here.

  • ||

    It depends on what the judge will (or won't) allow the defense to do. The State is undoubtedly seeking ways to stack the deck.

  • ||

    There are some legal implications with getting a warrant, so I don't want to mislead anyone. Just because drugs were found, or because they weren't, doesn't make the warrant valid or invalid. Finding something after the fact doesn't make a warrant valid, you have to meet a burden of proof in order to get one in the first place.

    What I was trying to imply more was that I'd be embarrassed if I served a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night and there wasn't anything there. What did they act on, an informant? They just sent an informant to jail in another case (I think the one where the 91 year old grandma was shot). The cops should have been more diligent in following up on whatever they thought they needed to follow up on.

    @Robc - That's a good idea as well.

  • ||

    The real problem with this has only been mentioned by 1 or 2 posters. After the police fucked the pooch on this one, its no longer about justice or reality.
    Its become about railroading an essentially innocent person to cover up the fact that one of them fucked up.
    I will STILL greet knocking police with a shotgun when they knock @ 3am and I guess we'll just have that shootout they seem so keen on.

  • Highway||

    Pro Libertate | May 28, 2008, 11:04am | #
    Lying unmoving on the floor, sobbing, and quietly offering $10,000 to the police to not kill anyone, damage anything, or shoot any pets?


    $10,000 bucks huh? Where'd you get the cash? You must be some scumbag drug dealer!

  • robc||

    Jay,

    I was thinking after my post that the informant should probably be charged too. Especially if he knew the difference between miniature japanese maples and pot.

  • ||

    Highway,

    That is a flaw in my suggested tactics. Furthermore, the cops can more easily keep my money if they just execute me, gangland style. Perhaps a check would be better.

  • ||

    I don't get it. Why can't the police just wait until whoever lives in the house they are after, comes out of the house to take out the trash, or go to the grocery store, and arrest them then? With occupants in custody, search the house freely, no one dies, police or innocent.

    I know, ripping down doors and shooting private citizens 75 times is so much more fun. Especially if you're a wannabee serial killer with a badge.

  • T||

    you have to meet a burden of proof in order to get one in the first place.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Oh, stop, please, you're killing me. Look, they got testimony from a burglar that the guy was growing plants. PLANTS! No other corroborating evidence at all. So obviously, this justifies a no-knock raid in the middle of the night. Hell of a burden of proof these guys are meeting.

    What do "incompetent" mean?

  • ||

    The law in VA is that if you are in jail on a felony charge you have to be indicted before the end of the second term of court after the charge is filed. Terms of court are usually one quarter (3 months) long, and preliminary hearings are held before indictment, so it be as long as 5-6 months from arrest to preliminary hearing. An incarcerated defendant has to be tried within 5 months of indictment under speedy trial law. But defendants often waive speedy trial for a variety of tactical reasons.

    Paul Ebert is a retired Commonwealth's Attorney from Northern VA. He often comes in to try cases that are politically hot or where the local Commonwealth's Attorney has a conflict.

  • Jay D.||

    @T - What I should have said was "In a perfect world you have to meet a burden of proof in order to get a warrant". The good old boys club shines through all the time. And while I've followed this case in the news somewhat, I wasn't aware their informant was a burglar, nor have I had an opportunity to see whether they realistically met a burden of proof. Generally, the word of a common criminal off the street isn't proof enough to issue a search warrant.

  • Sean||

    Virginia is (or at least was) the number 2 state for Death penalty/executions in the country and Prince William County is the number one county in Virginia for death penality verdicts. Justace dosn't matter, only winning the case does. A campaign was waged against Ebert to write in "Ham Sandwich" for commonwealth's attorney. http://virginiavirtucon.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/corey-stewart-cleared-of-any-wrongdoing-paul-ebert-guilty-of-fudging-facts/

  • Rage||

    The Gestapo will get away with the continued violations of human rights until the people unite as a whole a crush the empire.

  • Seattle Liberal||

    Come up firing. If I wake up in the middle of the night and hear/see my front door being kicked in, I'll put all 8 slugs (slugs, not shot) through the front door in less than 5 seconds flat. That should calm things down a hell of a lot. If any cops are still standing, we'll clear away some of the bodies, find the "papers" that sent them to their demise, and have a look see.

    If killing a pile of cops puts an end to the paramilitary raids this country is suffering from, they will wake right up and rethink their strategy. There's NOTHING cops hate more than having to drag 8 or 10 of their own into vans at 7 am on Main Street USA. It just makes them look completely ineffectual and incompetent.

  • ||

    Eight ball is not a pool reference. It is actually a coke reference. It is 3.5 grams, ie 1/8th of an ounce. Which is where the term eight ball comes from.

  • ||

    It is simple. Cops should have zero right to bust down your door, ever. As a citizen, you have no idea if it is the cops or some thugs and have every right to shoot. There is nothing so important that the cops have to bust down your door for as they have your house surrounded.

  • Radley Balko||

    The comment from "j-sub" has been deleted, and he has been banned.

    Do not advocate or endorse the assassination of public officials, or you'll get the same treatment.

  • ||

    Why didn't the invader wear a bullet proof vest? Why was he "standing" in the yard instead of backing up his fellow invaders.

  • ||

    Heres a surprise - that cops have started their massive redaction of the truth to suit them, not reality. This report makes most of us want to throw up as its very insideous implications will hi-light what low levels some of our PDs' have sunk to.

    They screwed up and they will railroad this guy into oblivion and throw away the key, all because they lost one of their own and cannot face the truth - the blame is theirs. The dead cop's family needs his pension but with no legal strings pending, and an innocent life will be trashed for it. He will not get a fair trial there.

    The guy needs every last bit of help he can get.
    Next time it will likely be one of us...

    Please write to the local newspapers !!
    Make donations to his legal fund !!

    Lets all just do as much we can!

  • ||

    Cops train and practice and actually do this stuff day after day. Seems to me they would EXPECT a light to go on when they rouse a sleeping citizen. I imagine it takes more than 12 seconds for a sleeping person to even become aware of knocking. this is the most depressing story I've read in months.

  • ||

    Radley Balko | May 28, 2008, 7:43pm | #
    The comment from "j-sub" has been deleted, and he has been banned.

    Do not advocate or endorse the assassination of public officials, or you'll get the same treatment.



    I did not see the specific comment. I do not advocate the assassination of public officials.

    This is a topic which gets the blood up, and at the same time inspires a feeling of helplessness. One gets carried away, and one's rhetoric becomes overheated. Overheated rhetoric has an adverse effect on Radley's work, and does not help solve the problem.


    I believe an individual has the right and responsibility to protect himself, his family, and his home. And it would be better for everyone if the "good guys" and the "bad guys" were clearly distinguishable.
    I am baffled by the persistent use of tactics which raise the level of risk to both police and citizens.

  • ||

    I may be wrong, but didn't the initial reports say that Frederick fell asleep with the TV on? Perhaps the "change in light" was simply a change on the TV (picture a show like CSI (dark) switching to a McDonalds commercial (light)). Not that it matters, but, just a thought...

    It scares me. I live in a nice neighborhood, but before my husband and married, he had a roommate - the roommate and my husband both drive white Toyota MR2s. One night 2 years after the roommate left (and we have had no further contact) we got a knock on our door at 4-5 in the morning. We were both asleep. The officer asked for the roommate, we said he didn't live there any more, he asked a few questions, checked my husbands ID and left. We realized later how lucky we were that the (identical) car was in the garage. And that the cop believed us. And that the roommate was charged w/ some sort of traffic violation/failure to appear not a drug charge. Because then what? Well, for one thing, my dogs would be dead, b/c if someone came in the house my very,very sweet large dogs would run at them barking until they had a chance to get a few pets and butt rubs.

    I don't know if there was a point to this post at all.

  • Don Tabor||

    Don't assume the dropping of the Marijuana possession charge is in any way benign. I believe it is a strategy to keep some of the irregularities from the eventual jury.

    Beware of Prosecutors bearing gifts.

    http://tinyurl.com/5luxby

    Anyway, thanks for helping to keep this in the public eye.

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