More on Ryan Frederick’s Preliminary Hearing

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

So quite a bit of interesting information came out at yesterday’s Ryan Frederick hearing. First, four months after the raid, special prosecutor Paul Ebert now says he plans to file felony drug charges against Frederick. On what evidence? Who knows. Ebert didn’t elaborate. All the police found in the raid was a small amount of marijuana. To my knowledge, they still haven’t disclosed how much, though the initial charge (nolle prossed today) was a misdemeanor.

The police account of the raid as portrayed in the Virginian-Pilot today also differs pretty drastically from other accounts. A few items from the hearing worth noting:

  • The police say sixteen officers were present for the raid, and that they were divided into two units, one at the front door to the house, and one unit that was prepared to enter the detached garage. This differs sharply from what Frederick’s neighbors told me. One woman told me she came outside after she heard shots, and saw one car and two officers at Frederick’s home. It was only later that other officers arrived.
  • Pay close attention to this one: According to a reporter I spoke with this evening who attended the hearing, Detective Kelly Roberts testified that the police announced themselves four times, waiting four seconds between announcements. After the fourth announcement (presumably, about sixteen seconds), they detected movement in the house. Roberts says a light “changed.” It was at this point that they announced “Eight ball! Eight Ball!” a code signaling that the raid had been compromised. At that cue (pardon the billiards pun), they took down the door with the battering ram.Think about the implication, here. The police come to Frederick’s home to serve a knock and announce search warrant. He’s asleep in his bed. Sixteen seconds after the first knock, it isn’t the fact that he hasn’t yet come to the door that triggers the violent, forced entry, it’s that there is a “change” in the light. It’s the light that makes them conclude the raid had been compromised. Not the flush of a toilet, or the cock of a shotgun. A light. How do they know that light isn’t someone coming to answer the door, possibly to allow the police to come in for a peaceful search?

    What this means is that, as I’ve written before, there’s no real difference between a no-knock and a knock and announce warrant. Once the warrant has been issued, your door is coming down.

    This raises the question of what exactly you’re supposed to do when someone knocks on your door, and announces that they’re the police, and that they have a search warrant. Don’t come to the door, and they’re going to break it down and come after you. Come to the door to verify it’s really the police (and as anyone who reads this site regularly knows, that’s by no means a given)–and to let them in if it is–and your very movement toward the door can, also, be a trigger to break the door down and storm your home. Arm yourself and wait for them to come in? You’re practically begging them to shoot you. I guess your only option is stand somewhere in your own house with your hands in the air, and hope none of the raiding officers mistakes your t-shirt for a gun, or possibly trips or mistakenly fires and accidentally kills you. Be prepared to be thrown to the ground, stepped on, handcuffed, and have the barrel of a gun pointed at the back of your head.

    This is just one of many conundrums posed by the proliferation of paramilitary-style police raids. The people on the receiving end of the raids in positions where it’s nearly impossible to even know what the right response is, much less be in a position to make it. Not to mention that, at the same time, they’re being subjected to trauma that makes any sort of clear-headedness or careful consideration of their options pretty much impossible.

  • Roberts also testified that none of the police officers fired a shot. What, then, are we to make of the .223 casing police recovered from Frederick’s home? The police recovered only a .380 pistol from Frederick’s home. I haven’t been able to get the Chesapeake Police Department to tell me what type of gun the SWAT and narcotics teams carry, but many carry the sort of a gun that would fire a .223. So far, neither the police nor Paul Ebert have offered an explanation for the casing
  • Frederick’s attorney James Broccoletti made a good point, too. According to Roberts’ own testimony, Frederick fired only after the battering ram breached the lower panel of Frederick’s door. This is a pretty good indication that Frederick’s mindset was one of self defense (never mind his clean record, and praise from neighbors, friends, and prior employers). If this were a premeditated attempt to kill a cop (which no one who knows Frederick says he’s capable of ), and if Frederick knew these were police officers due to their alleged repeated announcements, why would he wait until they had broken down his door to begin firing? And why would he give up after firing just two rounds? Those seem like the acts of someone who’s scared and uncertain, not someone hellbent on killing himself a cop.
  • The prosecution says Det. Shivers was in the front yard when he was shot. I’ll confess to some ignorance about guns, here, so correct me if I’m wrong. But the few knowledgeable people I’ve queried say it’s doubtful that a bullet from a .380 pistol could go through a door and then, according to the autopsy, also go through Shivers’ arm, and then penetrate Shivers’ chest.Frederick has told friends and family that he fired when he saw the bottom part of his door had been breached, and that someone was reaching up through the hole to grasp at the door knob. This seems more plausible, and more consistent with the autopsy. If Shivers was reaching through a hole in the door when Frederick fired at him, it’s not difficult to see how a bullet would have first struck Shivers’ arm, then his chest. It seems less likely that the bullet would have traveled through Shivers living room, through his front door, into his yard, then through both Shivers’ arm and chest.
  • As noted above, Prosecutor Ebert has said that he may file felony drug charges against Frederick at a later date. I find this dubious, given that it’s been four months since the raid, and the only illicit substance thus far recovered was the misdemeanor amount of marijuana.I see a few possibilities, here. Ebert could try to tie the gun to the pot possession and get Frederick for using a gun in commission of drug crime. I’m not sure how that sticks, given that Frederick wasn’t smoking or selling the drug when the raid went down. Ebert could also try to say the gardening equipment was evidence of a grow operation, even though the police found no actual marijuana plants. Given that Frederick’s neighbors have said he was an avid amateur gardener, I would think it would be pretty easy for him to show the equipment had a legitimate purpose.

    The third possibility is that Ebert’s sitting on some new evidence that he hasn’t yet released. If you’ll remember, Chesapeake police announced several weeks ago that they had seized Frederick’s phone records. Perhaps they’re preparing to trot out a few people who will claim to have bought drugs from Frederick. Maybe Frederick did sell some marijuana here and there, though everyone I’ve talked to insists he was a no more than a recreational, small-time pot smoker. Remember too that it’s pretty easy to get an informant to say whatever you want him to, particularly if you’re willing to help him wriggle out of other charges.

    In all, today’s hearing offered up a bit more of the information that the police department has been sitting on for four months, but it raised quite a few more questions than answers. The case now goes to the grand jury, which is almost certain to indict Frederick on whatever charges Ebert asks from them.

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    18 Responses to “More on Ryan Frederick’s Preliminary Hearing”

    1. #1 |  Lee | 

      Radley said: “The prosecution says Det. Shivers was in the front yard when he was shot. I’ll confess to some ignorance about guns, here, so correct me if I’m wrong.”

      I don’t know how to show a quote from people, what is the trick other than copy/paste?

      A .380 caliber bullet’s typical profile (velocity, penetrating power) is one of penetrate and STOP, not penetrate and CONTINUE. My understanding is that .357 Magnum was common, but these typically have a higher penetration rate, which is why law enforcement asked Smith & Wesson (S&W) to come up with something that stops after penetrating, and thus the .38 was born. This is why most revolvers and pistols that take .38 can also shoot .357, same casing etc. so they both fit in the same firearm. I’ve shot both from a revolver, and the .357 definitely is louder, produces more recoil, and goes more after penetration.

      Of course there are special types of each you can buy e.g. .38+P (extra power), but the typical cartridge (cartridge=case+bullet) behaves as I describe.

      http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/Articles.asp?a=Gun-Gear/Ammo-Anatomy-101&Meida_id=19

    2. #2 |  Lee | 

      More here
      http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/Articles.asp?a=Gun-Gear/Standard-Firearm-Terms&Meida_id=21

    3. #3 |  Alien | 

      A .380 is a cartridge used in a semi-automatic pistol. A .38 is a cartridge used in a revolver that is a weaker version of a .357. .380 is not the same as a .38, and indeed a .38 is more powerful. A .380 such as is reported that Frederick had is a weak semi-automatic cartridge that is as weak as most experts would even consider using for a self-defense pistol. .380s are usually desired when people want a very small gun for concealed carry, or if they are afraid of big bangs or have a hard time controlling big bangs. A .380 is weaker than a 9mm, which in turn is weaker than a .40 S&W, which is weaker than a .45 ACP. The location of the shot is the only reason the officer died (true for most cartridges but especially for the .380).

    4. #4 |  Lee | 

      I should have said that .38 is short-hand for .38 Special. Tired eyes and I missed the 0 at the end …

    5. #5 |  Bill | 

      This “eight ball” garbage completely infuriates me. As far as I’m concerned, the detective flat-out admitted that there was NO EXPECTATION that whatever “announcement” they made, or claimed to make, would be heard. At best, they went through the motions of pretending to make an announcement, maybe whispering it, and at worst they’re perjuring themselves. And he as much as admitted it on the stand!

      This is asking for trouble, and as bad as I feel for Shivers’ family, and as much respect as I have for GOOD cops, I’m glad it was one of the guys who started the fight that got killed instead of the guy they were attacking.

      In a sane world, Det. Roberts’ testimony alone would call for a very hard look at these raids and draw enormous shame on law enforcement in this country, if this “pretend-to-knock-and-announce” policy is widespread.

    6. #6 |  bob | 

      At some point in the trial, maybe the prosecution will explain why a surprise entry was necessary, given that they were allegedly looking for a grow operation.

      You can’t FLUSH a grow operation, guys.

    7. #7 |  Michael Chaney | 

      I agree with Bill. The cops can’t have it both ways. Either they knocked and announced and expected someone to answer the door, or they were sneaking up and the raid was “compromised” when someone realized they were there. I hope Ryan’s lawyer caught on to that, because that statement is a tacit admission that they didn’t announce themselves.

    8. #8 |  perlhaqr | 

      I guess your only option is stand somewhere in your own house with your hands in the air, and hope none of the raiding officers mistakes your t-shirt for a gun, or possibly trips or mistakenly fires and accidentally kills you. Be prepared to be thrown to the ground, stepped on, handcuffed, and have the barrel of a gun pointed at the back of your head.

      Cuff your own hands behind your back, lay down face first on the floor, and hope it really is the cops.

      And all of this crap, just to stop people from altering their own biochemistry.

    9. #9 |  volney | 

      Where exactly are these Good Cops people keep referring to? The police and prosecutor in this situation are so patently, clearly, obviously dishonest and despicable that any defense lawyer should be able to wipe the floor with their sorry asses. I’ll bet the discovery of sandwich baggies in his kitchen has inspired the elevation of charges from drug misdemeanor to felony dealing. Liars and swine.

    10. #10 |  David | 

      [bquote]This is just one of many conundrums posed by the proliferation of paramilitary-style police raids. The people on the receiving end of the raids in positions where it’s nearly impossible to even know what the right response is, much less be in a position to make it. Not to mention that, at the same time, they’re being subjected to trauma that makes any sort of clear-headedness or careful consideration of their options pretty much impossible.[/bquote]

      I hope you get the chance to ask what the correct course of action for people being raided to take is. I’d be curious to the reply would be, and how it fits with living a free society. I wonder how people would respond to a police official telling them the the best thing they can do if they think they’re home is being burglarized is to lie face down on the living room floor with their hands visible; That their sole duty as citizens in dealing with Police is to make oneself easily arrested. And that’s leaving aside the idea that even a person in 100 percent compliance will likely still get the knee in the back, rifle at the temple routine. I wonder if they’re trained to make people resist a little, so they at least have the “resisting arrest” charge?

    11. #11 |  From the Agitator | 

      […] http://www.theagitator.com/2008/05/28/more-on-ryan-fredericks-preliminary-hearing/ […]

    12. #12 |  CTone | 

      .38 Special was created over 30 years before the .357 Magnum, but it really doesn’t matter as .380 ACP is not as powerful as either cartridge – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.38_special#Performance

      If Det. Shivers was reaching up through a hole in the bottom of the door than he was probably exposing his chest to Frederick’s shot via the hole in his armor where his arm goes through, i.e. his armpit. Perhaps the second shot hit Det. Shivers in the arm.

      I have done penetration testing with many handgun cartridges, although admittedly not the .380 ACP, and cannot see the round having enough oomph to make it through an exterior door made of either wood or metal and then having the power to reach vitals. No way. My bet would be the round struck the exposed chest through the arm hole in the ballistic armor.

    13. #13 |  FWB | 

      My father was a cop in the 50s. In our town in those days, cops did not shoot until they were first shot at.

      According to Cooley on the Constitution, warrants should be served during daylight hours with no crowd around. Thomas M Cooley is one of the recognized experts by the US SC on the US Constitution.

      This night time, knock or no-knock bullshit is a bunch of pansy-assed pricks (albeit with 2 mm dicks) pretending to be storm-troopers against the people because they haven’t the guts or the nads to do it in a “real” hot zone.

      Cops ain’t nobody’s friend any more. I paint with a broad brush. I grew up with cops. I’ve spent most of my life around cops. And I wouldn’t trust a cop today to watch my lunch.

    14. #14 |  supercat | 

      //And all of this crap, just to stop people from altering their own biochemistry.//

      Biochemistry has nothing to do with it. The purpose of the raids is to acclimate people to living in a totalitarian state.

    15. #15 |  supercat | 

      //I hope you get the chance to ask what the correct course of action for people being raided to take is. //

      I’d like someone to ask this question:

      Suppose law-abiding Mr. Smith is awakened by the sound of a couple people smashing into his door. One of the individuals yells out “POLICE”, but there isn’t enough light to see the individual clearly. Are the people breaking in more likely to be (1) police officers legitimately serving a no-knock warrant that was issued for Mr. Smith’s address on the basis of an affiant’s personal knowledge, or (2) robbers who figure they’re more likely to get the jump on their victim if they yell “police”?

      If the answer is (2), then Mr. Smith should not be faulted if on some particular instance the invaders happen to be cops. And if the answer is (1), that would imply that one has more to fear from cops than criminals. While that may indeed be true, I wouldn’t think the government would want to admit it.

    16. #16 |  Don | 

      I attended Ryan’s Preliminary, and I was just amazed with the terrible job of lying Detective Roberts did. How he couldnt make his mind up whether things happened at 806 or “Im sorry” 830. There were 6 officers behind me. No I’m sorry 8. The total number of officers present has repeatedly changed and is now a rediculous 16. He said they watched the house since November and observed no trafficking. They did nothing to justify the raid. Oh sure there was a confidential Informant,which is a fancy word for a criminal who in order to get lesser punishment and so forth tells who is growing,selling,blah blah. If indeed he did take them plants as I remember reading back in january. He probably had them himself. Now as for the Felony Drug charge Ebert is talking about. We might expect to see like I believe someone else also said. Growing equipment and so forth. Well ok, I know for a fact that Ryan grew Banana trees. He probably did have some sort of hydroponic equipment. It is quite popular with folks who enjoy gardening type projects. I have seen a banana tree he had grown. And I have seen his backyard with an abundance of beautiful landscaping. And very nice ponds with Japanese Coy. Much of this is probably dead now since he has been incarcerated with no one to tend to it all. One last point. Fabricated Evidence. I cannot stress enough how much I feel we should beware of this. Evidence that has never been anywhere near Ryan’s property. We can probably expect that any banana trees or any other types of plants have been discarded by the police dept. Radley as well as everyone who posted comments before me already mentioned some really great points.

    17. #17 |  BOT:The Raid (Review) « Tidewater Liberty | 

      […] but the hearing was moved to a different courtroom without notice, so I must rely on the reports of others who arrived later and saw the prosecutor heading for the alternate […]

    18. #18 |  Nathan Vanderbeek | 

      When the drug thugs in texas were shotgunned, the neighbors upheld the shooter. We are going to have to have local organized leadership in our own neighborhoods, (neighborhood watch?) just to let everyone know when the redcoats are coming. That way if they raid next door they will find the whole damned neighborhood on their ass. Read Alexander Soljenitzen. Some of your small town local officials are pretty good guys. Our local city does not have a police department. It is still a nice place to live and work.

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