Drug Policy

The Ryan Frederick Trial, Days Four and Five

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Ryan Frederick is 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). Prior coverage of his trial here.

(Note: My analysis of the trial is based on coverage by the Virginian-Pilot and by local blogger Don Tabor.)

On Friday, the jury heard more testimony police officers who were on the raid. It's notable that the testimony from the various officers varied about which and how many announcements individual officers heard. One officer who was with the second raid team that hit Frederick's garage, for example, says he only heard one announcement, from a female officer. This, even though he was outside with the other raid team, only a short distance away. Frederick, meanwhile, was sleeping, separated from the officers by walls, and distracted by barking dogs and likely his own paranoia from having just been burglarized.

The second raid team was also slowed down by a fence, and entered the garage after the other team began taking down Frederick's door.  That means the garage raid team's announcements wouldn't have been a factor in determining whether or no Frederick should have known the people invading his home were police.

One thing I neglected to mention from Thursday's proceedings that's worth rehashing: Just as they did at a preliminary hearing last March, the police again said they moved to break into Frederick's home after one officer peered through a window and saw a moving human figure. If the purpose of the knock-and-announce requirement is to give the home's occupant time to answer the door and avoid a violent confrontation, a figure moving toward the door shouldn't be a reason to commence with the battering ram. Doing so renders moot the whole point of knock-and-announce. If the cops see you move to answer the door, they invade because you've blown their cover.  Of course if you don't answer the door, they'll also be taking down your door.

The other two notable items from Friday involved more shenanigans from the prosecution. During opening statements, prosecutor James Willett told the jury Frederick was "stoned out of his mind," and "in a blind rage" when he shot Det. Jarrod Shivers the night of the raid.

During his own opening, Frederick attorney James Broccoletti showed video of an interview with CPD Det. Edward Winkelspecht, who said Frederick didn't appear high after his arrest. Despite the fact that his name was on the prosecution's witness list, when Broccoletti said in court Friday that he'd like to hear from Det. Winkelspecht, the Virginian-Pilot reports,

"…prosecutors told Judge Marjorie T. Arrington that the officer was unavailable to testify because he was in Georgia for training and was expected to be there for weeks, if not months."

Seems odd that the prosecution wouldn't have ensured that such an important witness would be around for questioning—or, if you're sufficiently cynical, it isn't odd at all.

At Broccoletti's request, the judge compelled the officer to come back. Det. Winkelspecht then testified today that Frederick was coherent and responsive the night of the raid, that his eyes weren't bloodshot, and that he had no concerns about Frederick not understanding or comprehending his rights. The police also apparently either didn't give Frederick a drug test, or they did and the results either weren't positive or weren't conclusive.

All of which means Willett had zero evidence for the "stoned out of his mind" and "blind rage" description of Frederick he made to jurors in his opening statement. I'm not sure what Broccoletti can do about that, other than to remind the jury during his closing, and to take note of it all for the appeal should Frederick be convicted

The other major detail from Friday involves a videotaped reenactment of the raid conducted by police and prosecutors that the state has fought vigorously to keep the defense from seeing. From Tabor's report:

Though the video was the product of a search warrant, the prosecution has maintained it was an internal 'work product' of the prosecution crafted to help them develop their theory of the case and not subject to discovery by the defense. They admitted that the defense was entitled to any measurements, drawings, photos or graphs resulting from the search, but not the video. But they also claimed they made no measurements, photos or drawings, only the video.

The problem is that the prosecution then entered a still from the video into evidence, which one of Frederick's attorneys noticed included a string used to measure the trajectory of the fatal bullet. That's pretty clearly a measurement, which means the prosecution wasn't telling the truth about what's in the video, and hasn't given the defense all of the evidence it's required to turn over. The judge ruled that the defense be allowed to view the video, and ordered the prosecution to look again to be sure it wasn't holding any evidence that could be relevant to Frederick's lawyers.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, the police also revealed today what they found in Frederick's home—lights, tubing, and some books about growing marijuana. None of those things are illegal, though they do indicate—as Broccoletti conceded in his opening statement—that Frederick was likely growing marijuana. Broccoletti told the jury Frederick grew solely for his own use, and so far the prosecution has provided no evidence of selling or distribution. The police found no plants in the house or garage on the night of the raid, but did find misdemeanor amount of dried marijuana. Still, it looks like this will all boil down to whether this jury can look at the holes in the state's case long enough to get beyond "growing pot + shot a cop." 

The jury was supposed to view Frederick's home this afternoon (over the objections of the prosecution), but that visit was cancelled. The reports I've seen don't say why.

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  1. Thanks for the update, Radley.

  2. the officer was unavailable to testify because he was in Georgia for training and was expected to be there for weeks, if not months.”

    Wait, they don’t know exactly for how long is the TAD of one of their officers? Heck of department their running there.

  3. At least it looks like the defense is winning a few legal battles on the evidence and things, so there is some reason to be hopeful.

    I just hope there’s at least a few people on that jury with enough common sense to see that Fredrick is getting railroaded…

  4. My faith in humanity is too high to believe the jury will allow this dude to get fucked over.

    The prosecutor deserves to have his scrotum nailed to a loose plank of wood which is constantly getting tugged in different directions. What a fucking douche sack. This prick can sleep easily at night?

  5. What a slime this prosecutor seems with his egregious opening statements. This is outrageous. It infuriates me. Lord I wish the people there would have some sense of their duty as citizens and vote whoever the elected prosecutor there is out of office next election…

  6. I just know he will be found guilty. That’s how government “justice” works.

    Even so, I was happy to donate to his defense and still hope it will turn out better for him.

  7. Could the trip to the house have been canceled to accommodate hearing the testimony of the returning officer in one day, so he could “get back to class?”

  8. If this jury is hung, does that mean Frederick wins, or does that mean a retrial? Anyone know?

    Based on the reports so far, I don’t want to imagine a world where at least one of 12 people can’t see through this bullshit.

  9. Anyone know?

    They’ll try him until he’s convicted (which will be at this trial).

    But if he stumbles into a “not guilty” somehow, they’ll change the charge and go again.

  10. This whole situation is so infuriating.

  11. It’s sad to see lives torn apart by unjust marijuana laws and unnecessary, violent police raids. That’s one life wasted and one life possibly ruined over the pursuit of trying to keep people from getting high in private. Add them to the pile of collateral casualties.

    As for how the prosecutor can sleep at night, well…believe it or not, there are actually people who see life in black and white.

  12. “there are actually people who see life in black and white”.

    I see life in black and white.

    This is black.

    CB

  13. The detective was “unavailable” to testify because he no longer works for the CPD. He is in “boot camp” with the BATF. The judge was quick to point out, when the prosecution tried this stunt, that the BATF would be happy to allow thier new agent to comply with a summons.

    The judge was right, and the BATF did grant the former detctive leave from training to testify.

    Can’t wait to see what the “informant” has to say on the stand. This will make or break Ryan’s future. Wright is supposed to testify today.

  14. Wait a second! First the prosecution calls as one of its first witnesses the dead cop’s widow as if her testimony could possibly have any bearing on the facts of the case and then they try to say they can’t produce a witness, who is alive and well, but whose testimony is central to the the case.

    I say, what the fuck? No, what the fucking fuckity fuck?

    Jesus Christ, it’s bad enough that this prosecutor thinks he can win a case by predjudicing the jury with an outlandish speculative opening statement and irelevant emotion laden testimony from soeone who was nowhere near the scene and has no expert standing, now he’s trying to suppress evidence which could be crucial to the case.

    At least the judge didn’t get away with the last one.

  15. I think the prosecutor lost the case with the “stoned out of his mind” comment. Even stupid fools who wind up on juries don’t like to be lied to. With the bond of trust broken, any piece of evidence the prosecutor offers will be viewed with skepticism. And with all the other of bullshit in this case, justice might miraculuosly have its day.

  16. I see life in black and white.

    This is black.

    This.

    And unlike joe, Cracker’s Boy deserves his thread win.

  17. The prosecuting attorney or the DA should be the first in on all no-knock raids. They should also be required to wear an orange jump suit with the words attorney clearly visible from the front and back at all no-knock raids.

    Problem solved.

  18. “…prosecutors told Judge Marjorie T. Arrington that the officer was unavailable to testify because he was in Georgia for training and was expected to be there for weeks, if not months.”
    _____________________________________________-
    REALLY REALLY REALLY…. Out of town, aw too bad. he is a witness, he must testify, he can be compelled by law to, and the judge gives him an out. This trail is very leery and a CYA postion from the cops is obvious to a blind man. THIS IS A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. And unlike joe,

    I don’t know. Pseudo joe troll is actually doing a pretty good job of being ‘joe’, except he’s not quite got down the whining “I didn’t actually say that! I only strongly inferred it to cause you to object, so I could deny that I said it!”

    But if he stumbles into a “not guilty” somehow, they’ll change the charge and go again.

    I fear this is true. I read this early am, pissed me off so much ruined the start of my day.

  20. OOps the judge did compel the detective to testify, got all worked up before finishing the article (mea culpa). but from all the reading i have done and the links. i do not see how any person of reasonable mind, aka a jurour, can find this man guilty.

  21. It’s hard to see how some people are found guilty until you see the jury instructions. Then it often becomes obvious.

  22. The prosecution seems to be counting on no one on the jury knowing anything about marijuana.

  23. Speaking of trolls, is the “MNG” post at 8:25 p.m. the work of a spoofer? It is so precisely over the top that I really can’t tell. It’s good work if it is.
    But really, the spoofing is getting old.

  24. So, is Frederick a druggie / drug dealer or not? Because if he is that makes a difference.

  25. This is probably a good time to remind ourselves that a jury is necessarily composed of people unable to get out of jury duty. Anything can happen.

  26. Oh Paul that is so true!

  27. It’s hard to see how some people are found guilty until you see the jury instructions.

    I got booted out of a jury pool because I declined to check the box on the questionnaire which basically said, “Do you promise to convict anybody the DA wants you to convict?”

    As for this case, it’s so mind-boggling I don’t even know what to say. The defense attorney had better be an oratorical virtuoso; his closing argument is probably going to make or break the case.

    I have an ugly vision of this prosecutor, with Frederick’s bloody scalp hanging from his belt, conducting federally funded seminars for other prosecutors on “How to protect our valiant boys in blue from the drug-addled street scum of America.”

    I hope bad things happen to him.

  28. Does it make a difference if a suspect is actually a drug dealer or not? Let’s, for the sake of argument, stipulate that he was.
    Wouldn’t surveillence determine that so-and-so leaves the house at reasonable hours to go to work, the movies, the local bar, the grocery store, etc. and that he can easily be picked up outside the home by detectives? He’d hardly be able to destroy the evidence if nabbed coming out of the Winn Dixie three blocks away from his drug operation. So just how do cops justify these midnight raids where the possibilities of foul-ups, injuries or worse to cops, suspects, and innocents are greatly increased?

  29. “””So, is Frederick a druggie / drug dealer or not? Because if he is that makes a difference.”””

    Why should it? Someone using drugs does not have a lesser right to defend his home or self. However the arugment could be made that he was on drugs at the time therefore could not reasonably understand the situation as it unfolded. That’s why the prosecutor made the inflammatory statement of Frederick state of mind. If a reasonable person made a reasonable decision to protect his property from what is reasonably perceived as an home invasion then murder is NOT on the table. Since a cop testified Ryan was not high out of his mind, that’s a plus for the defense. Murder is usually an offensive action, not defensive. Lesser charges are usually for people who make a mistake while defending, unless your a cop, then pretty much every defensive mistake is not punishable by law. That’s the difference between a cop shooting a kid while confusing a candy bar with a gun, and what the BART cop did.

    Radley, do you know if lesser charges are available to the jury or is it all or nothing?

  30. CB,

    The problems start when the other guy sees white.

  31. “”””This is probably a good time to remind ourselves that a jury is necessarily composed of people unable to get out of jury duty.””””

    Necessarily? No, some people do want to serve.

    Juries are often, not necessarily, composed of people unable…

    I like jury duty. I see it as my duty to help the justice system be honest. However, it may be fitting for those who do not what to serve jury duty to be judged by the lower denominator.

  32. This is probably a good time to remind ourselves that a jury is necessarily composed of people unable to get out of jury duty.

    Um, no. I actually go anytime I am summoned and NEVER try to get out of jury duty. The absolute least I can do for my fellow man is hear the evidence against him without a TV news fear driven heart and head. Once there of course, I’ve never been selected for duty.

  33. Agree with TrickyVic; some of us do welcome jury duty if only for a chance to do our bit as citizens. I have served one time-it was a railroad of a patsy in a check-kiting scheme. It came out that the cops had made no effort to catch the real forger once they had this poor guy awaiting trial. We found the patsy Not Guilty, to the amazement of the court.

  34. The police do these raids this way to prevent destruction of evidence. I personally cannot accept that ANY degree of drug bust is worth the fallout of these kind of raids. An officer lost his life and a man stands to lose his liberty because the police deliberately put him in a position where the outcome was virtually pre-ordained.

    I sincerely hope for a jury that sees the travesty here and acquits. More jury nullification would do this country a world of good.

  35. Anyone look at any of the jury questions for this trial?

    Mr. Tabor did post a couple of the suspect ones on his blog.

  36. I am a long-time anti-drug guy. There have been a whole lot of badly executed, violent attempted arrests for trumped up drug charges. In Atlanta, Kathryn Johnson died because of a lying “informant.” In the Frederick case, the cops KNEW this guy was burglarized, undoubtedly by their informant. I am past beginning to believe the local cops have lost the moral authority to execute warrants.

    Our oldest is just starting to drive. My repeated message to her and her younger siblings is not about the $$ or the points of a traffic violation, but about staying away from cops.

    The Frederick prosecutor and the cops, like the Duke prosecutor and cops need to be charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

    I feel sorry for the family of the dead cop. Like his kids, I grew up without a dad. He is dead not because Ryan Frederick shot him, he is dead because a corrupt police department wanted a door to kick in.

  37. “miche | January 27, 2009, 12:29pm | #

    This is probably a good time to remind ourselves that a jury is necessarily composed of people unable to get out of jury duty.

    Um, no. I actually go anytime I am summoned and NEVER try to get out of jury duty. The absolute least I can do for my fellow man is hear the evidence against him without a TV news fear driven heart and head. Once there of course, I’ve never been selected for duty.”

    I wouldn’t mind jury duty if they didn’t make it so inconvenient and irritating. The courthouses are downtown where access is a pain and parking is hard to find and expensive, the hours are ridiculous and in my experience the court staff generally treats the jury pool like a bunch of prisoners.

  38. I’m a former LEO. One thing our training officer emphasized about no-knock raids is that all bets are off until one gains control of the situation. At that point in the early 80s, there had been several instances where homeowners had shot invading police officers and avoided prosecution. The fact that Ryan may have been involved in nefarious activities does not eliminate his rights. The other issue is the justification for the raid when the subject was frequently observed in public. I’d say the raid was poor judgement.

  39. “too many lawyers | January 27, 2009, 9:18am | #
    The prosecuting attorney or the DA should be the first in on all no-knock raids. They should also be required to wear an orange jump suit with the words attorney clearly visible from the front and back at all no-knock raids.

    Problem solved.”

    Preferably with a bullseye front and back.

  40. “Um, no. I actually go anytime I am summoned and NEVER try to get out of jury duty. The absolute least I can do for my fellow man is hear the evidence against him without a TV news fear driven heart and head. Once there of course, I’ve never been selected for duty.”

    I guess i should rephrase- the few people who are willing to do there civic duty are also the least likely to make it into a jury.

    “One thing our training officer emphasized about no-knock raids is that all bets are off until one gains control of the situation.”

    The 1200lb gorilla in the room is why LE feels the need to kick the door open in the middle of the night at all as opposed to waiting around until the suspect leaves the house, stoppping him, and then moving in. Its GOT to be cheaper having a couple guys waiting on the street than employing an entire SWAT team, not to mention less dangerous. But then LE would lose its justification for fancy and expensive SWAT toys i guess. The whole paramilitary invasion business should be the VERY RARE exception, and not the rule. Let the guy walk out on his porch, detain him, search the house. Everybody is much safer.

  41. It’s too bad the defense attorney can’t directly address the DA’s opening statement during his examination of witnesses.

    Witness:”There was no indication that the suspect was high”
    Defense attorney(turning to the DA):”Really? What say you Mr. DA? I thought you stated in your OS that the suspect WAS high and in a ‘blind rage’. Care to clarify your statement?”

    That would be priceless. And would get rid of that whole preconception in the jury’s mind that he’s a drugged up cop shooter.

  42. The defense attorney could look at the prosecutor in full view of the jury and ask the witness “Did the defendant appear to be stoned out of his mind on drugs?” Dramatic music would play in the background.

    Can you do this? I would do this.

  43. Keep up the reporting on this and all the other home invasions perpetrated by overzealous law enforcement officers.

    I understand that they don’t want to take unnecessary risks in doing their job, but all these cases seem to present the atitude that they are the police, they couldn’t be wrong.
    The suspects must be wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t be busting into their house.

    I’d like to point out that in Iraq, knock and search is more common than door-kicking, and has been for quite a while.

  44. Rob | January 27, 2009, 4:26pm | #
    Keep up the reporting on this and all the other home invasions perpetrated by overzealous law enforcement officers.

    I understand that they don’t want to take unnecessary risks in doing their job, but all these cases seem to present the atitude that they are the police, they couldn’t be wrong.
    The suspects must be wrong, otherwise they wouldn’t be busting into their house.

    I’d like to point out that in Iraq, knock and search is more common than door-kicking, and has been for quite a while.

    I guess WSU (Washinton State U) is not in Iraq.

  45. Whats the beef, he was a criminal dealer that blasted a cop and killed him.

    Why is everybody stumbling over themselves to defend the criminal?

    I say the video is fair game and the defense can pound sand.

    Its not evidence, its product-like Robocop.

  46. Smitty, you mean to defend the accused. Right?Fredrick’s never been convicted of a crime therefore he’s not a criminal. So much for believing in American justice.

  47. Here’s new information on the trial. I expect Radley will put something up on Wednesday.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2009/01/informant-detective-told-him-look-plants-house

  48. There’s no excuse for any of this crap, starting with the raids themselves. There are only two justifiable reasons for SWAT involvement in anything. The first one is countersniper ops, where you’ve got some nutburger shooting passers by, and the second is barricaded suspect in possession of hostages. Nothing, but nothing else justifies the use of SWAT.

    In Ryan Frederick’s position, I’d shoot back too. There are too many criminals who buy fake cop gear and then use it for home invasion robberies as it is. And that isn’t just here, it’s in Mexico and the Mexican gangs are resorting to it up here now too.

    By putting citizens on the horns of a dilemma where they’ve got to figure out whether the jerks kicking in the doors are real cops or not, the cops essentially are recklessly endangering the lives of citizens, period.

    If a cop kicked in a door and shot and killed an innocent citizen, on any jury I’d vote to convict for first degree murder.

    As for that Prosecutor, I sincerely hope that he’s charged with prosecutorial misconduct and has his license to practice law rammed into rectal defilade where it can keep his obviously oxygen starved brain company.

    I hope that Mr. Frederick gets exonerated and sues and pulls down enough of a punitive damage award so as to appear as a line item on that department’s budget for decades to come.

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