Militarization of Police

More From Chesapeake

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Today, officials in Chesapeake announced that a special prosecutor will be handling the murder case against Ryan Frederick, they say because the local prosecutor worked too closely with the deceased Det. Shivers on prior drug cases. I find that reasoning odd, unless the DA's office itself was complicit in the series of bad decisions that led to this raid.

The bad news is that the new prosecutor is Paul Ebert, the Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney for Prince William County. If you read my personal blog regularly, you'll know Ebert as the prosecutor who has steadfastly refused to investigate the allegations of rampant corruption by public officials and police officers in Manassas Park, Virginia in the Rack 'n' Roll Billiards case. He's also the guy whose constituents were so upset he didn't have an opponent last election, they started a write-in campaign for a ham sandwich.

NEXT: Meanwhile, Back in Lima...

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  1. But what was the sandwich’s position on mustard?

  2. Radley,

    DA’s work very closely with cops. If this is a small town, my guess is that every DA knew every cop in the town on a personal level. You cannot prosecute a case where you are personally aquanted with the victim. I would imagine the entire DA’s office was disqualified from prosecuting this case by virtue of knowing the victim. I don’t think it is odd at all that they brought in a special prosecutor in this case. Not that the case isn’t baseless bullshit, but the presence of a special prosecutor is not surprising given the circumstances.

  3. He’s also the guy whose constituents were so upset he didn’t have an opponent last election, they started a write-in campaign for a ham sandwich.

    Didn’t they like baloney?

  4. Chesapeake isn’t a small town. Its a pretty big suburban county outside Norfolk.

  5. Chesapeake is on the verge of passing Norfolk as the second largest city in VA per the news last night.

  6. Ham Sandwich for President. Go Ham Sandwich!

  7. John,

    I actually support the decision for an outside prosecutor. It’s just unusual, is all.

    And I obviously have problems with this particular prosecutor.

  8. Radley,

    I am sure the DA’s office was very disapointed they were disqualified and wanted to bring in a real hang them high DA to do the case. Thus you get this guy.

  9. Well that prosecutor is probably bad news, but he may still look at this case and be inclined to offer a deal or take the death penalty off the table. Prosecutors don’t like to lose.

    If Frederick has a half-decent attorney, there are a lot of points of attack here, simply too many things that indicate sloppy police procedure and lack of culpability by Frederick. Maybe I’m engaging in wishful thinking, but I have to believe the prosecutor isn’t thrilled about this case.

  10. Thank you for your support. Sure, my mother may have been a pig, but I will not engage in the mud-slinging that more sentinent, non-sandwich candidates use against me.

    Vote Ham Sandwich for changing a better tomorrow.

  11. Any word on a defense fund for Frederick, yet?

  12. “If Frederick has a half-decent attorney, there are a lot of points of attack here, simply too many things that indicate sloppy police procedure and lack of culpability by Frederick.”

    The fact that the police kicked down the wrong door and are buffoons doesn’t really help Frederick. The issue is did they do anything to identify themselves and was Frederick in a position where a reasonable person would have beleived that his life was in danger. The case will turn on the facts and accounts of what happened during the raid and believablity of Frederick’s testimony that he didn’t know they were police and he felt that his life was in danger.

  13. John, you know that all of that other stuff is going to come into play, both in terms of playing to the jury and in terms of Frederick’s culpability.

    –If there’s no indication that he was a dealer/grower, why would he have had reason to believe that someone busting down his door was a cop.

    –The issue of the burglary. The prosecutor may try to get any evidence about the informant excluded as irrelevant, but a smart defense attorney would find a way to get it in the jury’s mind. The fact of the apparent burglary itself is *highly* relevant to determining Frederick’s state of mind.

    Frankly, the fact that the neighbors apparently didn’t hear anyone yell “police!” is damning all by itself. If I’m a prosecutor, this case scares me.

  14. If I’m a prosecutor, this case scares me.

    If I’m the prosector, I drop all charges in exchange for a promise not to sue. You have to protect the public purse.

  15. ChrisO,

    I forget the facts regarding the apparent burglary, but if it is the case that the guy’s house had been broken into before, that fact would be very relevent to his state of mind and admissible. The neighbor’s testimony that they didn’t hear anyone yell “police” is also relevent and helpful. Presumably the police are going to claim that they did everything but send Frederick a telegram telling them that they were the police.

    If I am the defense, I certainly bring up the fact that Frederick is not a drug dealer and is a law abiding citizen with everything to lose. Now the question I ask the jury is why on earth would a non-violent guy with no criminal record like Frederick want to shoot the police when they kicked down his door? It is simply not reasonable to beleive that someone without anything to hide would decide to commit capital murder because the police kicked down his door. The only reasonable explination for what happened is that Frederick didn’t know they were police and thought his life was in danger.

    Now, the prosecution can save themselves to some degree by arguing that Frederick should have known that they were the police and acted recklessly by firing his weapon. But even if that were true, that is not first degree murder. It is at most second degree. The fact that this case was charged as a capital case is in my opinion ourright prosecutorial misconduct. There is no way to reasonably conclude that Frederick had premeditaion or killed the cop while committing a felony. In a just world the DA who drafted this indictment would be up before the bar for misconduct.

  16. I started to post this over here at the other isolated incident of a cop acting excessively, but didn’t want to change the subject too much 🙂
    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/124714.html#902279

    I do have to shake my head in amusement and sort of disbelief that the police actually seem surprised and/or incredulous that an occupant would go for a gun when his 2am slumber is interrupted by late night door and window removers. What do they expect?

    If I go into a restaurant and sit down, they ask me what I want to drink, talk about specials and ask if I’m ready to order. Why? Because I look like and am acting like a customer.

    If I walk into a convenience store and brandish a weapon at the clerk he/she will probably offer money and/or shoot me. Why? Because I’m acting like a robber.

    If I pull up a bus stop and ask little kids if they want a ride or candy (they never do:( ), they will run. Why? Because I’m acting like a kidnapper.

    If I bust into someone’s house at 2am, they will grab a weapon, call 911, cower, fight, or all of the above. Why? Because I’m acting like a robber/home invader.

    If the police don’t wish to be treated like criminals, they should stop operating like them.

  17. If I’m a prosecutor, this case scares me.

    If I’m the prosector, I drop all charges in exchange for a promise not to sue.

    If I’m the prosecutor, I know that juries presume guilt, carry that presumption through the whole of every trial, and deliver a verdict to match in the ninety percent of cases where they can find any excuse whatsoever to do it.

  18. If I’m the prosecutor, I know that juries presume guilt, carry that presumption through the whole of every trial, and deliver a verdict to match in the ninety percent of cases where they can find any excuse whatsoever to do it.

    You might be right about that, but remember that prosecutors typically offer plea bargains when a case looks shaky. I expect that to be the case here, as well. I don’t gamble, but I’d wager on this case never going to trial.

  19. “If I’m the prosecutor, I know that juries presume guilt, carry that presumption through the whole of every trial, and deliver a verdict to match in the ninety percent of cases where they can find any excuse whatsoever to do it.”

    I don’t think that is true. I think juries tend to be more fair than people think they are. If it were so easy to get a conviction before a jury, prosecutors wouldn’t spend so much time trying to bully people into pleading out. Prosecutors fear the unpredictability of the jury as much as defendents do.

  20. There is a real silver lining to having this prosecutor:

    If the case goes badly for the prosecution, then the police — all Jarrod Shivers’ buddies — will want to blame the lawyers. By sending in a pro-police prosecutor, the police will not have the option to blame the lawyer.

    For a similar reason that I hope the jury is white.

    Unless police want to withdraw all charges and offer Mr. Frederick compensation, I hope this case is fully and vigorously litigated. Too many police think it is still September 12, 2001. They need a clear signal.

  21. Ham Sandwich may have gotten as many as 682 votes.

  22. Radley,
    You know I admire your work, but there’s only so many Balko posts I can take in one day.

  23. I’m hoping Ryan Frederick has a really good defense attorney. From the previous information Radley has cited on Ebert and the fact that the cops have got Ryan Frederick pegged as a “cop killer”, Ebert is going to pull out all the stops on this one.

    The defense attorney is going to have to attack every step the police took in this case and watch out for any attempt to exclude or suppress evidence in Ryan Frederick’s favor.

    This is going to be nasty. Even if Frederick wins, he is going to have to leave town for his own safety.

  24. I voted for Ham Sandwich and all I got was this lousy heartburn.

  25. “Too many police think it is still September 12, 2001. They need a clear signal.”

    This has nothing to do with 9-11. Cops have been militarizing and shirking their duty to the public for a long time. It started with the Feds in the 1990s at Ruby Ridge and Waco and spread downwards to the state and locals in the late 1990s.

  26. downwards to the state and locals in the late 1990s.

    I sort of agree, although I thought, on the whole, things were getting better in the late 90s and thru 9/11. Just like you lost your mind on terrorism, John, a lot of other people lost their minds about police. I was a real hard inflection point.

  27. Frederick’s attorney –

    James O. Broccoletti
    Mr. Broccoletti received his B.A. degree at the American University in 1975 and his J.D. degree from the College of William and Mary in 1978. He was admitted to the Virginia State Bar in 1978 and the North Carolina State Bar in 1995.
    Mr. Broccoletti began practicing law in the Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney’s Office in 1978. He began private practice with J. Gerard Zoby in 1985, specializing in the representation of citizens charged with criminal offenses.
    His legal affiliations include: Virginia and U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia; U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit; and U.S. Supreme Court.
    He is a member of the Norfolk-Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, American and Federal Bar Associations, the Virginia State Bar (Past Chairman, Criminal Law Section, 2003); current Chairman, Virginia State Bar Standing Committee on Legal Ethics, North Carolina State Bar, Virginia State Bar Council, National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, Virginia Capital Resource Center (member, Board of Directior), Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, and the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Email: james@zobybroccoletti.com

    Cracker’s Boy

  28. “””Now, the prosecution can save themselves to some degree by arguing that Frederick should have known that they were the police and acted recklessly by firing his weapon.”””

    The counter-arugment is that the raid was carried out at time of day with the intent of overwelming and confusing the subject.

  29. John

    I would also place some blame on the reality TV “cop ride along” shows, which have consistently glorified the “smack-em down” “kick-ass” tactics. I think this has encouraged imitation and a perverse competition to be more macho than the ones on TV.

  30. Everyone here has raised good points about arguments and counter-arguments that favor Frederick. Let’s hope his apparent hot shot lawyer (thanks, Cracker’s Boy) thinks of all these things. Many of them seem obvious to all of us, but lawyers fuck up, too. Now’s not the time for fuck-ups.

  31. I voted for Ham Sandwich and all I got was this lousy pine box.

  32. Dave W

    I’ve often disagreed with John myself, but your “Just like you lost your mind on terrorism, John” comment is uncalled for and, in this context, ad hominem.

  33. Ham sandwich dreaming/on such a winter’s day

  34. I’ve often disagreed with John myself, but your “Just like you lost your mind on terrorism, John” comment is uncalled for and, in this context, ad hominem.

    Probably true. In mitigation: You have to remember that I am one of those hardcore Iraq War haters, who hated the war longer and harder than anyone else. I even relocated for several years out of hating it. I am one of those people who criticized Mr. Balko not for failing to hate the Iraq War, but rather for failing to hate it ENOUGH. I mean, how crazee is that?!?!

    So, when John (of all people!) tries to downplay the role of 9/11 in the national psychosis that the US is just now getting over, well, it is like J sb D trying to avoid swear words.

  35. Radley, The Agitator appears to be down with a 403 Forbidden error.

  36. Radley, The Agitator appears to be down with a 403 Forbidden error.

    Police hackers, no doubt.

  37. Well that prosecutor is probably bad news, but he may still look at this case and be inclined to offer a deal or take the death penalty off the table. Prosecutors don’t like to lose.

    Unfortunately, what this particular prosecutor is most famous for is going for the death penalty in murder cases. (Well, actually, he’s *most* famous for prosecuting the Lorena Bobbitt cases a few years back.) Even more unfortunate is how often he’s successful. (In getting juries to award the death penalty that is; he failed to get a conviction against either Lorena or her husband.)

  38. It’s funny how the Lima and Chesapeake cases ocurred at around the same time. In the Lima case, the police raided Ms. Wilson’s house, and the cop who shot her dead walks free. In the Chesapeake case, the police raided Frederick’s house, he shoots one of them dead, and he is being held without bail on first degree murder charges.
    So when a cop kills a citizen during a surprise raid, the presumption is that the cop (who is trained to deal with such situations) merely made a mistake, due to the volatile nature of the raid. But when a citizen (who has had no such training) kills a cop during a surprise raid, the presumption is premeditated murder.

  39. Appleseed of crack wins the thread.

  40. “So, when John (of all people!) tries to downplay the role of 9/11 in the national psychosis that the US is just now getting over, well, it is like J sb D trying to avoid swear words.”

    Yeah because Ruby Ridge and Waco were all about the madness that happened after 9-11. I ingored your comment because there is no point in highjacking the thread over Iraq. It is funny that you accuse me of losing my mind, yet you take a thread we both agree on and turn it into a forum on the war even though this topic has nothing to do with the war. But it is me that has lost my mind. Yeah.

  41. It just occurred to me that VA is the same state where Sal Culosi was murdered err, the victim of an accidental discharge from an H&K handgun(or was it an MP5?)

    If the officer who shot Sal Culosi didn’t so much as get charged with anything, how can the state charge Ryan Fredrick with murder?

  42. John, the first step is admitting you have a problem. You can do it!

  43. “Ham sandwich dreaming/on such a winter’s day”

    I’m digging the mama cass reference but I thought it was a chicken sandwich?

  44. Don’t complain, Cass. It’s a huge pine box.

  45. Huge to you. Snug to me.

    And void of tasty morsels. (tear)

  46. “John, the first step is admitting you have a problem. You can do it!”

    The first step to having a problem is projecting on others.

  47. More police goodness:

    http://wjz.com/local/police.Baltimore.sodomized.2.641585.html

    The URL only tells half the story.

  48. The first step to having a problem is projecting on others.

    Moi?!?!?

  49. Frederick’s defense attorney was on Channel 10 news tonight. He sounds competent, noting that the fact that the warrant was for a large and sophisticated growing operation located in the DETACHED GARAGE, would be an important aspect of the case. He also noted that the amount of marijuana seized was sufficient to charge Frederick with a misdemeanor for possession, but not with intent to distribute.

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