Drug Policy

Update in the Ryan Frederick Case

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Ryan Frederick is the 29-year-old Chesapeake, Virginia man who shot and killed Chesapeake Det. Jarrod Shivers during a drug raid on Frederick's home last January.  Police say an informant told them Frederick had an extensive marijuana-growing operation in his garage.  They found only a few joints—enough for a misdemeanor.

I'll have a more detailed look at the incredible recent developments in the case in a bit, but the short version is that the prosecution's case against Frederick is unraveling.

Last June, I reported the possible existence of a second informant in the case, and in an interview, this informant told me that he and the other informant had broken into Frederick's home three days prior to the raid.  Such a burglary would have been illegal, and the police would have been required to note in their search warrant affidavits that the probable cause for the warrant had been obtained illegally (they didn't).

Worse, last February this man told a reporter for the Virginian-Pilot (who then told me) that the police both knew about and encouraged the break-in, and in fact had encouraged informants to break into private homes in other cases for the purpose of collecting probable cause.

At a pre-trial hearing earlier this month, prosecutors in the case announced that they had testimony from two "burglars" who say they had stolen marijuana plants from Frederick and that, more dubiously, Frederick had then called them and made an explicit threat about killing a police officer.  The prosecutors did not say if these "burglars" were also the informants, or if they had been working with the police before the burglary.

That surprising revelation from prosecutors persuaded editors at the Virginian-Pilot last week to publish the details of reporter John Hopkins' interview in February with the same guy I interviewed, essentially confirming what I reported in June.  The details of Hopkins' interview leave little doubt that the "burglars" who broke into Frederick's home were also the police informants.

Today, Ryan Frederick's lawyers filed a brief asking the judge to quash all evidence seized from Frederick's home after the raid:

Police showed a "reckless disregard for the truth" and misled a magistrate to get a search warrant for the home of Ryan Frederick, the man accused of killing a detective during a drug raid on his house, according to his attorney.

Police failed to tell the magistrate that their confidential informant had burglarized Frederick's property to get evidence to support a search warrant, asserts attorney James Broccoletti. The drug raid that followed on the night of Jan. 17 was a violation of Frederick's Fourth Amendment right; therefore, all evidence collected should be thrown out, he said in a motion filed in Circuit Court.

This could become another major drug informant scandal.  More to come.