Virginian-Pilot columnist Kerry Dougherty completely misses the point in an acerbic rant against the mounting support for Ryan Frederick.
Blogger TheHim offers a point-by-point refutation. I’ll just add a few things.
Then there’s her predictable “if you don’t like the drug laws, change them–but don’t blame cops for enforcing the law” line. Even if you agree with drug prohibition, I think many reasonable people still find the idea of using home invasions to enforce it discomforting. And even if you agree with that, there remains the problem that the police were breaking into this man’s house based only a tip from an informant, with no corroborating investigation. The major grow operation the informant said police would find in Frederick’s house wasn’t there. The only drug charge against Frederick is a misdemeanor.
Maybe Frederick shouldn’t have fired as soon as he did. But if he hadn’t, if he had met Shivers and his partner with a gun when they broke into the house, he’d likely be dead. So I guess the third option here is that Frederick should never have had a gun in his home at all. But then, it isn’t surprising that Dougherty wouldn’t be much on the Second Amendment. She doesn’t particularly like the Sixth, either:
When was the last time you heard a defense lawyer, in a highly publicized murder case, no less, say that he does not want a change of venue?
“No, no, he has too much support here,” said Frederick’s attorney, James Broccoletti, when asked if he’d like the trial moved.
If it’s unfair to have a jury pool skewed toward conviction, it should also be unfair to have one awash in sympathizers.
Dougherty’s admonition to “wait for the facts” is also off the mark. It isn’t a journalist’s job to sit around and wait for the police, the prosecutor, or other members of the government to tell us what the facts are. Our job is to go out and gather the facts on our own. As we saw in Atlanta a little over a year ago, the authorities’ account of “the facts” is often quite different than what actually happened. There are patterns that emerge in these botched raids. It’s important to hold the police and prosecutors accountable early, and to get to important information before they can find ways to bury it.
Yes, it’s tragic that a cop is dead, a woman widowed, and two kids are now fatherless. It’s also tragic that a man’s life has been ruined because of poor police work. What’s most troubling about Dougherty’s column is that when faced with the troubling facts about this case (Frederick’s lack of prior record, evidence of a sloppy police investigation, problems with the informant, the absence of any marijuana growing operation, neighbors who contradict police reports), the first reaction from Dougherty, a journalist, is to blame the people asking questions.