Thanks for the post.
Thread: Radley Balko: Senseless Overkill
I don't want to beat a dead horse, but this article sheds some light into the recent shooting death of the Chesapeake detective. NO COP BASHING PLEASE! JUST READ THE ARTICLE!
Imagine you're home alone.
It's 8 p.m. You work an early shift and need to be out the door before sunrise, so you're already in bed. Your nerves are a bit frazzled, because earlier in the week someone broke into your home. Oddly, they didn't take anything; they just rifled through your belongings.
But the violation weighs on your mind. At about the time you drift off, you're awakened by fierce barking from your two large dogs. You hear someone crashing into your front door, as if he's trying to separate it from its hinges. You grab the gun you keep for home defense and leave your room to investigate.
This past January that scenario played out at the Chesapeake, Va., home of 28-year-old Ryan Frederick, a slight man of little more than 100 pounds. According to interviews since the incident, Frederick says when he looked toward his front door, he saw an intruder trying to enter through one of the lower door panels. So Frederick fired his gun.
The intruders were from the Chesapeake Police Department. They had come to serve a drug warrant. Frederick's bullet struck Detective Jarrod Shivers in the side, killing him. Frederick was arrested and has spent the last six months in a Chesapeake jail.
He has been charged with first degree murder. Paul Ebert, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, has indicated he may elevate the charge to capital murder, which would enable the state to seek the death penalty.
At the time of the raid, Ryan Frederick worked for a soft drink merchandiser. Current and former employers and co-workers speak highly of him. He also recently had gotten engaged, a welcome lift for a guy who'd had a run of tough luck.
He lost both parents early in life, and friends say the death of his mother hit particularly hard — Frederick discovered her in bed after she had overdosed on prescription medication.
Friends and neighbors describe Frederick as shy, self-effacing, non-confrontational and hard-working. He had no prior criminal record. Frederick and his friends have conceded he smoked marijuana recreationally. But all — including his neighbors — insist there's no evidence he was growing or distributing the drug.
According to the search warrant, the police raided Frederick's home after a confidential informant told them he saw evidence of marijuana growing in a garage behind the home. The warrant says the informant saw several marijuana plants, plus lights, irrigation equipment and other gardening supplies.
After the raid, the police found the gardening supplies, but no plants. They also found a small amount of marijuana, but not much — only enough to charge Frederick with misdemeanor drug possession.
Frederick told a local television station that he was an avid gardener. A neighbor I spoke with backs him up, explaining that Frederick had an elaborate koi pond behind his home and raised a variety of tropical plants. He'd even given his neighbors gardening tips on occasion.
One of the plants Frederick told the local television station he raised was the Japanese maple, a plant that, when green, has leaves that look quite a bit like marijuana leaves.
So far, Chesapeake police have given no indication that they did any investigation to corroborate the tip from their informant. There's no mention in the search warrant of an undercover drug buy from Frederick or of any extensive surveillance of Frederick's home.
More disturbingly, the search warrant says the confidential informant was inside Frederick's house three days before the raid — about the same time Frederick says someone broke into his home. Frederick's supporters have told me that Frederick and his attorney now know the identity of the informant, and that it was the police informant who broke into Frederick's home.
Chesapeake's police department isn't commenting. But if true, all of this raises some very troubling questions about the raid, and about Frederick's continued incarceration.
Chesapeake's lawyer, Paul Ebert, said at a recent bond hearing for Frederick that Shivers, the detective who was killed, was in Frederick's yard when he was shot, and that Frederick fired through his door, knowing he was firing at police.
Frederick's attorney disputes this. Ebert also said Frederick should have known the intruders were police because there were a dozen or more officers at the scene. But some of Frederick's neighbors dispute this, too. One neighbor told me she saw only two officers immediately after the raid; she said the others showed up only after Shivers went down.
What's clear, though, is that Chesepeake police conducted a raid on a man with no prior criminal record. Even if their informant had been correct, Frederick was at worst suspected of growing marijuana plants in his garage. There was no indication he was a violent man — that it was necessary to take down his door after nightfall.
The raid in Chesapeake bears a striking resemblance to another that ended in a fatality. Last week, New Hanover County, N.C., agreed to pay $4.25 million to the parents of college student Peyton Stickland, who was killed when a deputy participating in a raid mistook the sound of a SWAT battering ram for a gunshot and fired through the door as Strickland came to answer it.
So in the raid where a citizen mistakenly shot a police officer, the citizen is facing a murder charge; in the raid where a police officer shot a citizen, prosecutors declined to press charges.
Over the last quarter century, we've seen an astonishing rise in paramilitary police tactics by police departments across America. Peter Kraksa, professor of criminology at the University of Eastern Kentucky, ran a 20-year survey of SWAT team deployments and determined that they have increased 1,500 percent since the early 1980s — mostly to serve nonviolent drug warrants.
This is dangerous, senseless overkill. The margin of error is too thin, and the potential for tragedy too high to use these tactics unless they are in response to an already violent situation (think bank robberies, school shootings or hostage-takings). Breaking down doors to bust drug offenders creates violent situations; it doesn't defuse them.
Shivers' death is only the most recent example. And Ryan Frederick is merely the latest citizen to be put in the impossible position of being awakened from sleep, then having to determine in a matter of seconds if the men breaking into his home are police or criminal intruders.
How many people can honestly say they'd have handled it any differently than he did?
Radley Balko is a senior editor for Reason magazine and maintains at Web log at TheAgitator.com.
Thanks for the post.
If you think like a Statist, act like one, or back some, you've given up on freedom and have gone over to the dark side.
The easiest ex. but probably the most difficult to grasp for gun owners is that fool permission slip so many of you have, especially if you show it off with pride. You should recognize it as an embarrassment, an infringement, a travesty and an affront to a free person.
Good Post, Thanks!
I still don't have a lot of facts but the more I read and the more that comes out, the more I think it was a very badly botched investigation and raid.
OK, we can call barn shovels PC 'equine fecal matter excavators' too, if you can't call a barn shovel a spade.
<<Writing that I mis-typed 'fecal mater' and thought of a new insult based on adding it to 'pia mater' and 'dura mater' as brain membrane tissue.>>
Unfortunately, the only way that this behavior will stop is if more cops are killed and he and several others like him are successfully convicted and executed.
Our nation is slow to care about or move on these issues until blood is shed.
Regardless of the validity of any of the facts mentioned, No-Knocks should almost never be used.
More fallout from the War on Drugs.
I abhor drug use. I don't drink alcohol and I even try to avoid caffeine, much less any sort of illegal drugs. I feel about drugs the way many anti-gunners feel about guns: I wish they would just disappear (except for medical use). Being a rational person, though, I realize that eliminating all the drugs is even less likely than eliminating all the guns.
Drugs ruin the lives of those who take them and cause great pain to their loved ones, but the War on Drugs damages everyone. It guts our civil liberties, funds massive criminal organizations and kills thousands. Our gang problem is directly attributable to the drug war. Gang bangers would say that the gangs don't exist to run drugs, the drugs are just a way to support the brotherhood of the gangs, but the fact is that without drugs, most of them would have to get jobs.
IMO, one of the best things we could do to reduce crime in this country is to legalize pot. Tax it heavily and use the tax money to pay for anti-drug education programs, free rehabilitation centers, etc. Limit sales to adults, etc., the same way we handle alcohol and tobacco. If someone wants to grow their own, fine, just like tobacco.
After a little experience with that, we may even find that it makes sense to apply a similar approach to meth, ecstasy, cocaine, etc. Perhaps a little tighter controls, but the same basic idea: cheap, high-quality, available drugs, heavily taxed with the taxes used to fund programs to discourage usage and treat addicts.
It's not a perfect solution to the problem, of course, but it's much better than the non-solution we have now.
Was the guy who broke into the house (The Informer) a federal janitor? I mean then it's ok according to the Solicitor/Attorney General.
Virginiaplanter wrote:Most excellent op-ed. There really is nothing to add to what he said at this point.Was the guy who broke into the house (The Informer) a federal janitor? I mean then it's ok according to the Solicitor/Attorney General.
Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."