Drug Policy

Update From Chesapeake

|

Ryan Frederick tells the Virginian-Pilot that he had at most a small bag of marijuana in his house, that he wasn't a dealer, and that he didn't grow marijuana. He says he'd been doing some landscaping in his backyard, including growing a banana tree and some Japanese maple trees. Seems like that would be easy enough to prove. And it would explain the lights.

Meanwhile, support from people who know Frederick is showing up in comments threads and in newspaper articles. In another interview with the Virginian-Pilot, Ryan Frederick's aunt says he wasn't dealing drugs (but was a recreational pot smoker), had nothing more than a traffic ticket on his record, and would never have knowingly shot a police officer. Yes, it's his aunt. So take it for what it's worth. More interesting, though, are the comments from neighbors who not only also vouch for Frederick's credibility, they also say they never heard the announcement the Chesapeake Police Department insists was given before officers forced entry. One was outside at the time of the raid. That's not to say there was no announcement. It is to say that if someone standing outside didn't hear it, how could we expect Frederick, who was inside and in bed, to hear it?

Also interesting, about 20 miles away, police in Suffolk County, Virginia stumbled onto a major marijuana grow while investigating a burglary. The guy in charge was arrested without incident. No breaking into his home. No SWAT team. He gave in peacefully. The media were also invited to take pictures of that operation. It was immediately apparent what was going on. There were lots of plants, irrigation equipment, and such.

That's not the case with Frederick. It took five days just to reveal that the police found drugs. We've yet to be told what quantity of drugs police found in his home. We do know that they didn't find the major grow operation described in the warrant. It's also probably time to start inquiring about the informant whose tip led to the raid. Who is he? Did he have a grudge against Frederick? What exactly did he see that made him think this was a major operation? Does he know enough about marijuana to know what a major grow operation would look like?

Here's another scary thought: Frederick says one reason he was frightened was that three days prior to the shooting, someone had broken into his house, rummaged through his belongings, but didn't take anything. The search warrant says that the confidential informant was in Frederick's home within 72 hours of the raid. Could it be that the informant was the one who broke into Frederick's house? Might be worth asking Frederick who was in his home in the previous week.

It's becoming increasingly hard to believe that this guy is a hardened cop killer. It's become increasingly easier to believe that these tactics were way out of line. It's far more plausible that Frederick was a slight (120 pounds), scared man faced with the unimaginable decision of what to do as armed men are breaking into his home. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

If there's any good news to come of this, it's that judging by the comments to the Virginian-Pilot's articles about the case, public opinion seems to be turning a bit. Commenters are no longer uniformly calling for Frederick's head. Some are raising serious questions about the tactics, the informant, and Frederick's right to defend his home.

Advertisement

NEXT: 50-50 Support for the First Amendment at the FEC

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Keep ’em coming, Balko.

  2. Thanks for the update.

    I’m hoping for Frederick to get some justice, but I’m afraid it is going to depend a lot on the prosecutor’s political ambitions.

  3. Good for the Virginian Pilot, but I worry what happens if/when Landmark Communications sell the paper–see: http://hamptonroads.com/2008/01/pat-robertson-says-his-attorneys-are-looking-bid-virginianpilot

    Somehow I don’t see the Rev as a protector of evil drug dealers.

  4. That’s not to say there was no announcement.

    There was no announcement. I said this before, and predicted it in this case. In every case like this where there are neighbors around, they all say “no announcement”. Every time. Why would the cops announce and give up the element of surprise? That’s why they’re doing it this way in the first place. I’m sure in their minds it is the equivalent of saying “hey crazy drug dealer we’re coming in so get your AK out”. If I were involved in a raid like this, I sure as hell wouldn’t announce.

    Besides, you can always lie about it later, unless somebody films it, which is highly unlikely. But cops would never lie, right?

  5. Episiarch –
    Don’t you know it’s a violation of something or whatever to film the cops?

  6. Your third and fifth paragreaphs fit together in a way you seem hesitant to point out. So I’ll do it:

    Sending informants to break into places, or letting them get away with it, then “stumbling” upon evidence during the “investigation” for the reported burglaries seems like an obvious trap tactic for a lawless organization like a police department.

    Conveniently, if they don’t report the burglary, you can just barge the place anyway, using your pet burglar’s information as pretext. Bonus: you might get to cap some dude.

    Or not.

  7. Thanks for the update. More excellent work from the Agitator.

  8. Although I busted my resolution this week, I’m still trying to refrain from using obscenities. So here it goes.

    Drug warriors, it is you, YES YOU, who are responsible for Jarrod Shivers’ death. Not Ryan Frederick, not the person who sold him an ounce of reefer. You, drug warriors, bear the moral responsibility for Officer Jarrod Shivers’ death. Suck it up, you sanctimonious, intolerant, witch hunting buffoons. It’s YOUR fault, and if you have an ounce of integrity, which I sincerely doubt, you’ll admit it. You would get down on your knees and beg forgiveness from the multitudes who have been killed, or had their lives ruined, by your ignorant and futile attempts to create a “drug free society”.

  9. J sub D,

    AMEN.

  10. Sadly, none of this matters. The guy killed a cop in uniform, and he’s going to rape-land for the remainder of his life (which, if he’s lucky, will be shortened by the ol’ potassium chloride IV).

  11. Ryan now has a lawyer – James O. Broccoletti.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2008/01/im-not-murderer-they-make-me-out-be

  12. Radley Balko needs to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
    What do you figure the chances of that happening are?

  13. He’s white. He’s got a chance, unlike Maye.

  14. JK — I think it’s a pretty easy process to nominate someone. I’ll look into it later in the year if I remember.

  15. Now, let’s post J sub D’s 1:08 comments on LGF, get some popcorn and watch the rants.

    (Should we give J sub some time to change his name and move to another country first?)

    😉

    Seriously, however, I have tried making the same point to pro-drug war people I have met. Easier to take out Cheyenne Mountain with a bean shooter than to get them to understand it.

  16. I keep thinking there should be some way to compare these no-knock raids with car chases. Eventually, (most) police departments realized how dangerous car chases are and how much collateral damage they cause, and toned down on the Buford T. Justice act. Is there a possibility they will ever subject these raids to the same sort of analysis and change their policies about when to indulge in them? Has anybody tried pointing out to the police that they actually did change the way they did things with car chases (which present similar risks), and maybe they could consider taking the same approach with no-knock raids?

  17. JK & DR–

    Yes, it is easy to get nominated for a Nobel Prize. I looked into this a few years ago because we had a job applicant who actually listed “Nobel Prize nominee” on his CV, which was otherwise, uh, not very impressive. I don’t remember the exact details, but basically anyone can write a letter to the Prize committee nominating anyone (including self) for a prize.

  18. Let me rephrase:
    Radley Balko needs to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
    What do you think the chances of that happening are?

  19. As soon as Radley writes a book showing that no-knock raids are a consequence of global warming, he will be a contender.

  20. I’m flattered, but to win a Nobel Peace Prize, I’d actually have to have participated in these raids and killed a few people, then stopped, and come out against them.

    See Jesse Walker’s primer:

    https://www.reason.com/news/show/122958.html

  21. The guy killed a cop in uniform

    I hope that Broccoli fellow has requested the photo and physical evidence on this. I’ll believe when I see it. Kinda fishy that this was initially reported as undercover.

    Another factual wrinkle in this case is where was Officer Shivers and where was the door when he was shot. Initial reports had him shooting through the door. Later reports seem to indicate that the door was already open/broken and perhaps that the Officer was in the house. Personally, I think it was valid self-defense either way, but it is info that the media should be more clear about (or clear about the fact that police have not made it clear).

  22. Well, you’re still young, Mr. Balko. There’s still time to fulfill some of those obligations.

  23. Now, let’s post J sub D’s 1:08 comments on LGF, get some popcorn and watch the rants.

    Actually i’m considering a visit to policelink.com, with appropriate links. Ask them how they feel about Ryan Frederick’s execution now. Think I’d initiate some soul searching dialogue?

  24. Radley’s right. And besides, they’d look at his nomination and be like “Oh, they nominated a guy who’s trying to make drugs more available to teh children!?”

  25. Dave, I read that Officer Shivers was shooting at a can of Boylan’s Black Cherry, made with real cane sugar. He just couldn’t stand to see a real soda compete with HFCS.

  26. He just couldn’t stand to see a real soda compete with HFCS.

    He should have tried shopping at the markets in my area then. Any and all of them.

  27. For those of you not into Japanese gardens & koi, some cultivars of Japanese maples look a helluva lot like pot plants. At least they do to thugs with guns, or the amateur burglarsbotanists they associate with.

    Also, some of the chemicals use by koi folk to neutralize chlorine & ammonia and treat diseases are also, I am warned, useful in meth production. And of course you are going to need a digital scale to properly measure doses and feed. And koi ponds need lots of pumps and plumbing, and the occasional UV light. And they use lots of electricity.

    Not that I’ve ever spent any time thinking about this, at least since my Bloodgood died. But not before turning green because I put it in too shady a spot. And I didn’t buy that cultivar mainly because I wanted something that clearly was red, unlike some other species.

    I’m probably next.

    It is beyond stupid that we have to live like this.

  28. Actually i’m considering a visit to policelink.com

    If you do go over there, I have a question for the Ask A Cop section:

    if the police had broken the door down and seen Ryan standing there with a gun, then would they have shot him or asked him to put down the weapon?

  29. From one of the articles Radley linked too:

    Detectives had gone to the house looking for marijuana, packaging materials and scales, according to an affidavit for a search warrant issued Jan. 15. Police verified that Frederick lived at the address through phone and DMV records, according to the affidavit.

    Here is a small bit of advice for the cops you might be reading these threads. If you think a guy is growing pot, check his utility records. Unless he is stealing the energy his bills will be very, very large–assuming a large growing operation. And if you might also want to ask and see if the utility could help determine if the guy is stealing electricity. Often times they’ll do dumb things like turn off their meters (energy usage way too low), or they might rig the meter to run backwards. Often time pot growers are caught because they are stealing energy, and that in turn leads to a tip off to the police.

    Shivers was supposedly a detective…apparently he didn’t do all that much detecting on his last raid.

  30. Agreed, Steve Verdon. If you’ve got a snitch willing to lie for you on a search warrant affidavit, staple a subpoena request for utility records to the back.

  31. “Frederick says one reason he was frightened was that three days prior to the shooting, someone had broken into his house, rummaged through his belongings, but didn’t take anything. The search warrant says that the confidential informant was in Frederick’s home within 72 hours of the raid. Could it be that the informant was the one who broke into Frederick’s house?”
    This reminded me of “The Diary of Anne Frank”. The Franks were sent to the concentration camps because a burglar was able to turn them over to the Gestapo in exchange for his freedom.

  32. excellent work as usual, balko. solid comments, too. this place is a webby oasis for reason (yukyuk) on this issue.

  33. It’s all been said before, but all this surprise raid stuff is insane. Couldn’t any intruder yell the word “POLICE” before breaking into a home? Isn’t the whole purpose of badges, uniforms, and marked cars to provide assurance that an officer is actually an officer by providing evidence that could not be easily reproduced on the spot by any old schmuck?

  34. rummaged through his belongings, but didn’t take anything. The search warrant says that the confidential informant was in Frederick’s home within 72 hours of the raid. Could it be that the informant was the one who broke into Frederick’s house? Might be worth asking Frederick who was in his home in the previous week.

    Rule #1, when your house is broken into, the first question asked is, which neighbor did it?

  35. I’m flattered, but to win a Nobel Peace Prize, I’d actually have to have participated in these raids and killed a few people, then stopped, and come out against them.

    Ouch, Radley. Snarky, but painfully true.

    And Radley, you wouldn’t have to come out against them, all you’d need do is promise to work towards an end to the cycle of violence.

    Oh, make sure you add the dead cop to the death toll, too. You know, to show how tragic this is for both sides.

  36. J sub D:

    Your moral outrage, while noted is way out of touch. We are moving towards a drug free/smoke free/transfat free/intolerance free/hate free society.

    While we fight for a tiny, miserable piece of turf: one tiny localized, ever-so-slight relaxing of marijuana decreminalization (NOT legalization) the number of “bans” of all products, far and wide, expand exponentially with little or no opposition.

  37. Your moral outrage, while noted is way out of touch. We are moving towards a drug free/smoke free/transfat free/intolerance free/hate free society.

    JOHN:”Can you really fly?”
    PETER:”I’ll teach you.”
    MICHAEL: “How do you do it?”
    PETER: “Oh, you Just think lovely, wonderful, happy thoughts. And up you go!”

    Yep.

  38. I don’t know if the law has changed, but when I lived in Virgina 20 years ago if someone was breaking into your occupied home (as in causing visible damage to it) you could presume that the breaker was there to threaten your life and the life of your family. Deadly force could then be used.

    Seems to me this was a good example, and a good reason why no-knock raids in the dead of night are never a good idea.

  39. Ventifact: This has in fact happened a number of times, crooks have kicked in doors pretending to be police.

    Gall’s doesn’t check credentials before selling their stuff. Anyone with a credit card can buy police raid gear.

  40. http://www.myspace.com/ryan_frederick

    Is the page that is currently being setup for his defense fund and to get the word out about this case. You can also leave your comments and thoughts on there as well.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.