Archive for February, 2008

Update in Chesapeake

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Chesapeake police have seized Ryan Frederick’s phone records from the night of the raid. I can see several reasons for this, I guess. Did the informant call Frederick that night? Did Frederick talk to anyone the police suspect of being involved with drug distribution? I remember early on reading somewhere that Frederick dialed 911 at some point during the raid, but I can’t remember where, and haven’t seen anything about it since. Of course if he did, those records would be available through the 911 line. They wouldn’t need to seize Frederick’s phone records for that.

What’s strange is that this was reported in a couple of local media outlets. Seems like this would be a pretty routine part of this kind of investigation. Perhaps it’s an indication of just how secretive the police department has been in all of this. Maybe the local media is hungry for information, caught wind that something related to the case had just been filed in court, and felt the need to report it. But the mere fact that they’re reviewing the phone records doesn’t really indicate much of anything.

In related news, the Virginian-Pilot has published a new staff editorial that’s pretty critical of the police department’s secrecy in the case. The editorial notes that public opinion is growing skeptical of the way the raid and investigation were conducted, and growing particularly wary of the way Chesapeake officials have clammed up since the raid went down. They’re calling for more disclosure.

Cops are here to protect you. (#2)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

(This story via Hear Me Roar 2008-02-20 and a private correspondent.)

Trigger warning: The police surveillance video, news story, photos, and text comments from freelance thugs, which this story reports on, may be triggering for past experiences of violence. (Note added 2008-03-18.)

Here is something that I wrote a couple years ago about the State and its efforts to protect the hell out of us all whether we want it to or not:

The State is, as Catharine MacKinnon says, male in the political sense. But not only because the law views women’s civil status through the lens of male supremacy (although it certainly does). It is also because the male-dominated State relates to all of its subjects like a battering husband relates to the household of which he has proclaimed himself the head: by laying a claim to protect those who did not ask for it, and using whatever violence and intimidation may be necessary to terrorize them into submitting to his protection. The State, as the abusive head of the whole nation, assaults the innocent, and turns a blind eye to assaults of the innocent, when it suits political interest — renamed national interest by the self-proclaimed representatives of the nation. It does so not because of the venality or incompetance of a particular ruler, but rather because that is what State power means, and that is what the job of a ruler is: to maintain a monopoly of coercion over its territorial area, as a good German might tell you, and to beat, chain, burn, or kill anyone within or without who might endanger that, whether by defying State rule, or by simply ignoring it and asking to be left alone.

— GT 2006-05-11: Quidditative essence

I didn’t mean the analogy between government protection and domestic violence quite this literally, but, well, here we are.

This is how government cops protect you: by beating the shit out of a suspect woman after she’s already been handcuffed, turning off the camera so that they won’t be caught on tape doing it, and then claiming that the reason she ended up lying a pool of her own blood in the middle of the room, with two black eyes, a broken nose, and missing teeth, was that she tried to leave the room and fell and hurt herself in the process. He didn’t do it, and besides, even if he did, she was belligerent (which, since there’s no evidence of her trying to use physical force against the cop at any point, is cop-speak for mouthing off).

Here is a photo of the injuries to Angela Garbarino's face, including a broken nose, cuts on her cheek, two huge black eyes, and bruises around her mouth.

She fell.

Please note that the explicit reason for this violent creep handcuffing her, slamming her up against the wall, and then beating the hell out of her was that there are rules you have to follow (where there are is cop-speak for I make, and you have to means or else), which rules absolutely require that you keep her in a tiny room no matter what, by any means necessary, and don’t set aside your paperwork for even a moment so that she can call somebody to let them know where she is. No matter how easy it would be for you to do so, and no matter how quickly that would de-escalate an extremely stressful situation.

Please also note that, because Wiley Willis is a cop and his victim, Angela Garbarino, is not, so far the only consequences that this violent sociopath — who had already been named in at least two unrelated brutality complaints in the past two years — is that he was given a paid vacation for three months, and then finally lost his job after an administrative hearing. But in the view of other Shreveport cops, Willis deserves this proverbial walk around the block because After reviewing the evidence, we decided it was something that needed to be handled internally and that it was not enough to pursue criminal charges. Nowadays, thanks to the concerted struggle of our feminist foremothers to reform the police and courts’ handling of violence against women, if any man who didn’t sport a badge and a uniform had been alone in a closed room with a woman who ended up getting hurt so bad she needed to be hospitalized, with a video clearly showing him shoving her around, handcuffing her, slamming her against the wall, and then deliberately turning the tape off up until she ended up bruised and bleeding, that man would be in jail right now on charge of assault and battery. Even without such comprehensive evidence almost any court would long ago have issued a restraining order against the violent pig. I’ll bet that there are a lot of people in Shreveport who wish they could get one of those against Wiley Willis and the paramilitary force that employed him.

Meanwhile, the mainstream news media, while Very Disturbed, are still willing to call this videotaped brutality a classic case of he-said / she-said, and the Fraternal Order of Pigs and Willis’s lawyer are trying to get him put back on the force.

In the YouTube comments thread, you can find the usual sado-fascist bully brigade of police enablers, one of whom summarizes the situation as follows:

She was very cooperative when the officer was polite to her and did not yell or demand anything…Yah right! Saying the word Miss and Mam didnt do any good. She decided to get drunk and stupid, not follow directions, would jerk away,and thought she was in charge. When she got arrested she needed to shut her cock-holster! The officer cant make her take the test. All he had to do was state she refused to take the test and be done with it. She got the best of him because now she will get paid.

Another adds:

she’s a woman. act like a lady or get treated like a man. she got much better treatment than a man would even after she kept disobeying

His conclusion (and I am quoting): the b(((* was asking for it.

Back in Ohio, here’s how newspaper epistolator William McClelland, of Lake Township, responded to Bonnie Yagiela’s letter on the police’s beating and gang-rape of Hope Steffey, in which Yagiela stated that I was disgusted and appalled but not surprised. The behavior they displayed is typical of humans placed in a position of power and authority over others. McClelland replies:

I wasn’t there, nor have I ever been to Abu Ghraib; therefore, I am not qualified to offer expert analysis as to the events that occurred at either. However, I do know that making generalizations about humans placed in a position of power and authority over others is grossly unfair to the many who serve our nation.

… Maybe the handling of Ms. Steffey was not properly conducted; maybe it was. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I do know that Sheriff Swanson has requested outside assistance from the Ohio attorney general’s office in investigating the incident, and I am willing to await its findings before I make judgment.

Should the investigation prove that the deputies involved did abuse their authority, I will then consider them responsible individually. I will not hold every human being in a position of authority, or every deputy in the sheriff’s office, accountable for the actions of a few.

McClelland’s position on the particular case — which he fraudulently passes off as a critical suspension of judgment, when in fact it is nothing more than overt denialism toward obvious abuse captured on film — is objectionable enough by itself. But what’s even more foolish, and extremely dangerous in the long run, is the notion that a tightly-organized class of people, who exercise such a tremendous advantage over the rest of us in both physical force and legal power, ought to be given every benefit of the doubt when they’re accused of hurting people that they willingly chose to put under their legally-backed and heavily-armed power, and that the basic institutional structures which back up their power cannot be called into question without unfair generalization or stereotyping. When every fucking week brings another story of a Few More Bad Apples causing Yet Another Isolated Incident, and the police department almost invariably doing everything in its power to conceal, excuse, or minimize the violence, even in defiance of the evidence of the senses and no matter how obviously harmless or helpless the victim may be, it defies reason to keep on claiming that there is no systemic problem here. What you have is one of two things: either a professionalized system of control which tacitly permits and encourages cops to exercise this kind of rampant, repeated, intense, and unrepentant abuse against powerless people, or else a system which has clearly demonstrated that it can do nothing effectual to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

Further reading:

Cops are here to protect you. (#2)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

(This story via Hear Me Roar 2008-02-20 and a private correspondent.)

Trigger warning: The police surveillance video, news story, photos, and text comments from freelance thugs, which this story reports on, may be triggering for past experiences of violence. (Note added 2008-03-18.)

Here is something that I wrote a couple years ago about the State and its efforts to protect the hell out of us all whether we want it to or not:

The State is, as Catharine MacKinnon says, male in the political sense. But not only because the law views women’s civil status through the lens of male supremacy (although it certainly does). It is also because the male-dominated State relates to all of its subjects like a battering husband relates to the household of which he has proclaimed himself the head: by laying a claim to protect those who did not ask for it, and using whatever violence and intimidation may be necessary to terrorize them into submitting to his protection. The State, as the abusive head of the whole nation, assaults the innocent, and turns a blind eye to assaults of the innocent, when it suits political interest — renamed national interest by the self-proclaimed representatives of the nation. It does so not because of the venality or incompetance of a particular ruler, but rather because that is what State power means, and that is what the job of a ruler is: to maintain a monopoly of coercion over its territorial area, as a good German might tell you, and to beat, chain, burn, or kill anyone within or without who might endanger that, whether by defying State rule, or by simply ignoring it and asking to be left alone.

— GT 2006-05-11: Quidditative essence

I didn’t mean the analogy between government protection and domestic violence quite this literally, but, well, here we are.

This is how government cops protect you: by beating the shit out of a suspect woman after she’s already been handcuffed, turning off the camera so that they won’t be caught on tape doing it, and then claiming that the reason she ended up lying a pool of her own blood in the middle of the room, with two black eyes, a broken nose, and missing teeth, was that she tried to leave the room and fell and hurt herself in the process. He didn’t do it, and besides, even if he did, she was belligerent (which, since there’s no evidence of her trying to use physical force against the cop at any point, is cop-speak for mouthing off).

Here is a photo of the injuries to Angela Garbarino's face, including a broken nose, cuts on her cheek, two huge black eyes, and bruises around her mouth.

She fell.

Please note that the explicit reason for this violent creep handcuffing her, slamming her up against the wall, and then beating the hell out of her was that there are rules you have to follow (where there are is cop-speak for I make, and you have to means or else), which rules absolutely require that you keep her in a tiny room no matter what, by any means necessary, and don’t set aside your paperwork for even a moment so that she can call somebody to let them know where she is. No matter how easy it would be for you to do so, and no matter how quickly that would de-escalate an extremely stressful situation.

Please also note that, because Wiley Willis is a cop and his victim, Angela Garbarino, is not, so far the only consequences that this violent sociopath — who had already been named in at least two unrelated brutality complaints in the past two years — is that he was given a paid vacation for three months, and then finally lost his job after an administrative hearing. But in the view of other Shreveport cops, Willis deserves this proverbial walk around the block because After reviewing the evidence, we decided it was something that needed to be handled internally and that it was not enough to pursue criminal charges. Nowadays, thanks to the concerted struggle of our feminist foremothers to reform the police and courts’ handling of violence against women, if any man who didn’t sport a badge and a uniform had been alone in a closed room with a woman who ended up getting hurt so bad she needed to be hospitalized, with a video clearly showing him shoving her around, handcuffing her, slamming her against the wall, and then deliberately turning the tape off up until she ended up bruised and bleeding, that man would be in jail right now on charge of assault and battery. Even without such comprehensive evidence almost any court would long ago have issued a restraining order against the violent pig. I’ll bet that there are a lot of people in Shreveport who wish they could get one of those against Wiley Willis and the paramilitary force that employed him.

Meanwhile, the mainstream news media, while Very Disturbed, are still willing to call this videotaped brutality a classic case of he-said / she-said, and the Fraternal Order of Pigs and Willis’s lawyer are trying to get him put back on the force.

In the YouTube comments thread, you can find the usual sado-fascist bully brigade of police enablers, one of whom summarizes the situation as follows:

She was very cooperative when the officer was polite to her and did not yell or demand anything…Yah right! Saying the word Miss and Mam didnt do any good. She decided to get drunk and stupid, not follow directions, would jerk away,and thought she was in charge. When she got arrested she needed to shut her cock-holster! The officer cant make her take the test. All he had to do was state she refused to take the test and be done with it. She got the best of him because now she will get paid.

Another adds:

she’s a woman. act like a lady or get treated like a man. she got much better treatment than a man would even after she kept disobeying

His conclusion (and I am quoting): the b(((* was asking for it.

Back in Ohio, here’s how newspaper epistolator William McClelland, of Lake Township, responded to Bonnie Yagiela’s letter on the police’s beating and gang-rape of Hope Steffey, in which Yagiela stated that I was disgusted and appalled but not surprised. The behavior they displayed is typical of humans placed in a position of power and authority over others. McClelland replies:

I wasn’t there, nor have I ever been to Abu Ghraib; therefore, I am not qualified to offer expert analysis as to the events that occurred at either. However, I do know that making generalizations about humans placed in a position of power and authority over others is grossly unfair to the many who serve our nation.

… Maybe the handling of Ms. Steffey was not properly conducted; maybe it was. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I do know that Sheriff Swanson has requested outside assistance from the Ohio attorney general’s office in investigating the incident, and I am willing to await its findings before I make judgment.

Should the investigation prove that the deputies involved did abuse their authority, I will then consider them responsible individually. I will not hold every human being in a position of authority, or every deputy in the sheriff’s office, accountable for the actions of a few.

McClelland’s position on the particular case — which he fraudulently passes off as a critical suspension of judgment, when in fact it is nothing more than overt denialism toward obvious abuse captured on film — is objectionable enough by itself. But what’s even more foolish, and extremely dangerous in the long run, is the notion that a tightly-organized class of people, who exercise such a tremendous advantage over the rest of us in both physical force and legal power, ought to be given every benefit of the doubt when they’re accused of hurting people that they willingly chose to put under their legally-backed and heavily-armed power, and that the basic institutional structures which back up their power cannot be called into question without unfair generalization or stereotyping. When every fucking week brings another story of a Few More Bad Apples causing Yet Another Isolated Incident, and the police department almost invariably doing everything in its power to conceal, excuse, or minimize the violence, even in defiance of the evidence of the senses and no matter how obviously harmless or helpless the victim may be, it defies reason to keep on claiming that there is no systemic problem here. What you have is one of two things: either a professionalized system of control which tacitly permits and encourages cops to exercise this kind of rampant, repeated, intense, and unrepentant abuse against powerless people, or else a system which has clearly demonstrated that it can do nothing effectual to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

Further reading:

Killer or Hero? How ‘Bout “Victim?”

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

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.

Militarization Stuff

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Yonkers man claims he was shot three times during a drug raid. The police found a small amount of drugs, and killed the man’s three dogs. Not saying this guy’s innocent, or even that he’s telling the truth. Just another unnecessarily violent raid to enforce a consensual crime.

Also, good work from a local television station looking into the wrong-door raid on a Minnesota Hmong family late last year. Looks as though the police did little to no corroborating investigation on the initial tip. It also looks as if, contrary to what they’ve claimed, there was no announcement before they began the raid.

It’s standard in cases like this to do surveillance outside a house and check for any police calls to the address.

Investigators also could have run a simple property search online and learned that the Khang family owned the house on Logan Avenue since moving there four years ago.

So far, the I-TEAM has found no evidence that any of those steps were taken on the Logan Avenue house to confirm the information provided by Brown’s girlfriend.

Finally, here’s a sensible column from the Virginian-Pilot’s Roger Chesley on the Frederick/Shivers raid.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Georiga Senate Committee Passes (Mostly) Useless No-Knock Bill

Monday, February 25th, 2008

The state senate’s judiciary committee recently passed a bill in response to the Kathryn Johnston shooting that would…

…require officers who want to use so-called "no-knock" search warrants to go to a judge and prove that there is probable cause to believe that the officers’ lives would be in danger if they knocked first, or that there is probable cause to believe that evidence inside the home would be destroyed — such as drugs being flushed down a toilet — if they knocked first.

"For the government to go into your house, they ought to be held to a higher standard," Fort said. "To go into your house without knocking, they ought to be held to a real high standard."

While I suppose it’s a good sign that Georgia’s lawmakers want to do something, this bill would change almost nothing. It would basically mean police officers in Georgia would have to comply with the bare minimum standards for a no-knock entry laid out by the Supreme Court in Wilson v. Arkansas. That opinion required police to knock and announce before entering a home unless they could show that the suspect presented a threat to the safety of police officers or there existed the possibility that the suspect could dispose of evidence. In other words, this bill would force Georgia to comply with the minimal constitutional protections the state should have been following for 14 years.

Moreover, it’s unlikely that this would have even prevented the incident it’s responding to. While the warrant itself in the Johnston case authorized a no-knock raid, the officers who conducted the raid claimed they announced first (though just about anything these particular cops said at this point is suspect).

The difference between a "no-knock" and a "knock-and-announce" raid is basically moot for the people inside the house. I’ve talked to police who say they wait little to no time at all between announcement and entry. If you’re asleep, in a room away from the door, or hard of hearing, the difference between the two is further obscured. Keep in mind, the whole purpose of a SWAT-style raid is to catch the suspect by surprise. That’s why so many of these raids are conducted at night. A full-throated announcement with sufficient wait time for the suspect to come to the door defeats the entire purpose of catching said suspect off-guard.

The real issue here is forced entry, and the use of forced entry tactics to serve warrants for nonviolent crimes. If the Georgia legislature is serious about preventing more botched raids, they’ll strictly limit the number of situations in which police can break into someone’s home to serve a warrant. These tactics should be limited to only the most severe situations, when a suspect presents an immediate threat to the safety of others—think hostage takings, violent fugitives, or shootings. So long as the law allows cops to kick down doors in pursuit of neighborhood dope slingers, we’ll continue to have more Kathryn Johnstons. As there have been.

The sad thing is, meager as this particular bill may be, it’s the second time Georgia has tried to pass it. The original bill died last year. Even after an event as appalling and high-profile as the Johnston shooting, the state can’t even bring itself to pass a paltry effort at reform.

MORE:  Per the comments section, the bill does apparently increase the standard to obtain a no-knock from "reasonable suspicion" in Wilson to "probable cause" that the suspect might be dangerous or dispose of evidence.  In that sense, it is a bit of an improvement.  But police can still get a knock-and-announce warrant on the old standard, then merely force entry by merely announcing quietly, or at night when occupants aren’t likely to hear them.  As the sponsor of the bill himself says in the article, the state forcing its way into people’s homes is the problem, here.  Whether the police observe the formality of a cursory announcement first is beside the point.  To be effective new standard should apply any time police are forcing their way into someone’s home.

Report from Chesapeake

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

The crowd for yesterday’s Ryan Frederick rally was modest in size. I arrived at around 10:45am, and at the time there were about as many members of the media as there were supporters. A glum, cold rain might have had something to do with the turnout. I hung around until about 2, and I’d say that over that span, a total of 100 to 120 people showed up at one point or another.

The crowd was a mix of Frederick’s family, friends, and former co-workers, along with a smattering of people from the community who’d seen his jailhouse interview on television or read about him in the paper. About a half dozen local libertarian activists also showed up.

There were no dissenters while I was there. In fact, I’ve yet to see a negative word about Frederick in any of the coverage of the raid from local media, at least from anyone who knows him. The worst thing I’ve yet to read about the guy came from special prosecutor Paul Ebert—who’s never met Frederick and came to the case from the other side of the state—when at the bond hearing, Ebert called Frederick, "A potential danger to society."

Susan Milne, a woman in her 50s who worked with Frederick at the Virginia Beach Resort & Conference Center (where Frederick was a banquet manager) described him as "very passive, loving, giving, honest—I wish I had more adjectives. He’s such a sweet kid. I feel so bad for him."

Michelle Berard, a hairdresser in Virginia Beach, doesn’t know Frederick, but decided to come after seeing his jailhouse interview on the local news. "I could tell he was honest and scared," she said. "This raiding people’s houses is a failed policy, and they know it. They should admit it and let him go. What happened to that cop is sad, but two wrongs don’t make a right."

Retired naval inspector W.O. Jones showed up with his wife around noon to give $50 to Frederick’s defense fund. "New stories like this arise every day in this area," he said. "I’m tired of this. I’m here because if I was in that kid’s shoes, I’d have done the same thing."

Frederick was also recently engaged. Family friend Amy Jones, who also worked with Frederick in Virginia Beach, says Frederick’s been emotionally devastated since the raid. Others close to Frederick I spoke with say he repeteadly smacked his head against the patrol car window, and vomitted on the way to the police station. "We were afraid they were going to put him on suicide watch," Jones said. "He’s doing better now. But he doesn’t know why this happened to him."

Frederick’s neighborhood is working class. Several people described it as "rough," though, one local resident clarified, noting that I drove down from Washington, "Rough by Chesapeake standards, not by D.C. standards." Supporters who know Frederick personally also mentioned his recently deceased mother, who once worked for the sheriff’s department, explaining that he wasn’t someone with any animus toward law enforcement.

I spoke with one of Frederick’s neighbors and several farmily members, though not for attribution. Both Chesapeake police detectives and Frederick’s attorney James Broccoletti have asked neighbors not to talk to the media. In fact, both sides have told everyone close to Frederick not to talk to reporters. I found, though, that Frederick’s supporters are fairly eager to tell what they know anyway, and tend to open up with little prodding. The Chesapeake police department and Broccoletti aren’t commenting right now.

Here are a few other items that came out yesterday:

• Three separate people close to Frederick told me that Frederick and Broccoletti are now aware of the informant’s identity. All three said it’s an acquaintance of Frederick’s, that the informant has a criminal record, and that it was the informant who broke into Frederick’ house three days before the raid. Again, this hasn’t been confirmed by Broccoletti, Chesapeake PD, or Paul Ebert. But it certainly meshes with Frederick’s jailhouse interview, in which he told Virginian-Pilot reporter John Hopkins that police told him as they arrested him they knew about the prior break-in, and that they knew who had done it.

• One neighbor I spoke with said Frederick is "not—not—a drug dealer." "He’s a good kid," the neighbor said, "He’s worked hard from the time he was young. And let me tell you something. I’m not supposed to talk about the case, but all the truth isn’t out in this. You’re going to hear much, much more before this is over." This neighbor also confirmed that Frederick is an early riser, which would explain why he was sleeping at 8:30pm that night. "My husband goes to work at 4:30 in the morning. Ryan would usually be gone by the time he left. I can tell you, my husband goes to bed at 8 or 8:30, too. You have to when you get up at a quarter to four."

• Friends, neighbors, and two of Frederick’s former roommates confirmed to me that Frederick is an avid gardener. The yard behind his home includes an elaborate pond with fish, and a variety of tropical plants. Several people also confirmed that he did in fact raise Japanese Maples.

• The neighbor I spoke with says Frederick has near unanimous support from his neighborhood. I say "near" because, oddly enough, I was told Chesapeake’s police chief apparently lives one street over. But the people I spoke with say they know of no neighbors who heard any police announcement the night of the raid. The houses in Frederick’s neighborhood are spaced fairly close together. And the raid was early enough—8:30pm—that they say if the police had announced loud enough for a sleeping Frederick to hear, several people nearby should have heard something, too. Thus far, it seems that no one did.

• The same neighbor said she and Frederick’s other neighbors don’t believe Shivers was in the yard when he was shot, as Ebert asserted at last week’s bond hearing. This neighbor also says that only Shivers and his partner served the warrant, not the 13 police officers Ebert also claimed at the hearing. "When my dog started barking, I went outside," the neighbor told me. "I only saw two cops. The others only started showing up after Detective Shivers was already down."

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Ebert’s assertion that more than a dozen officers served the warrant was clearly an effort to make it seem implausible that Frederick could have mistaken the raiding police for criminals.

It’s significant that Frederick has support from the people who live around him. One woman I spoke with says there’s little tolerance in the neighborhood for drug dealing. She said she’s called the police herself on a house nearby that was known to be slinging dope. If Frederick were dealing, she says, his neighbors would be glad to have him out of the area. Instead, they’re coming to his defense.

Just judging from similar cases I’ve looked over the last few years, I’d say Frederick still has an uphill battle. But it’s notable that the community seems to be growing increasingly skeptical of the way the investigation and warrant service were handled. Comments at the Virginian-Pilot website have gone from mostly calling for Frederick’s head shortly after the raid, to a fairly healthy majority now expressing doubt about Frederick’s guilt. It helps that the Pilot’s coverage has been pretty fair—much more balanced and less deferential to the police than I’ve seen in the past after a botched drug raid leads to an officer’s death.

Prior coverage of the Frederick case here.

Correction to My Coverage of the Chesapeake Drug Raid

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

This morning, I drove down to Chesapeake to do some reporting on the drug raid in which Det. Jarrod Shivers was shot and killed while serving a drug warrant on Ryan Frederick.

I spoke with friends, co-workers, and neighbors of Frederick, as well as some people around Chesapeake. Lots of interesting stuff came out. I’ll have more on my trip in a bit, but first I need to make a correction.

In this post, I wrote that the police at one point said Det. Jarrod Shivers was crawling through Ryan Frederick’s lower door panel when he was shot. In this one, I referred to that same scenario as if it were undisputed. Actually, exactly where Shivers was when he was shot is a major point of contention right now. Reader Loren Collins emailed me on Friday to say he couldn’t find in any coverage of the raid where the police, city, or prosecutor say Shivers was coming through the panel when he was shot. Looking back, I can’t either. It’s mentioned several times in comments threads, both at Hit & Run and at the Virginian-Pilot. But it hasn’t been reported by any local media.

The unlikely "crawling through the door" scenario seems to be a twisted version of events culled from Ryan Frederick’s jailhouse interview, in which he said someone was pushing through one of the lower door panels when he fired his gun. That seems to be consistent with the fact that police left a battering ram at the scene. I also spoke with a neighbor of Frederick’s today who told me the lower panels to Frederick’s door were indeed broken in (the police confiscated the door shortly after the raid).

But it was incorrect for me to attribute that account of events to the police or city officials. Moreover, even Frederick’s account of events didn’t identify the officer coming through the panel as Shivers, nor did he describe that officer as "crawling"—he said they were "pushing through" the panels.

I don’t think this really effects the debate over Frederick’s justification in shooting Shivers one way or the other. But I would like to correct my error.

So my apologies. I should have been more vigilant about double-checking an assumption that somehow crept into my understanding of the case before I reported it. In addition to this post, I’ll add an addendum to both prior posts.

Ebert Says Frederick “Potentially a Danger to Society.”

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Give me a fucking break.

There’s nothing in this guy’s history to suggest that.

This is looking more and more like an absolute railroading. If there’s any consolation at this point, it’s that Paul Ebert has a history of incompetence. He may already be overplaying his hand in this case.

If you’re looking to raise your blood pressure, watch the video at the story linked above.

New Professionalism Roundup

Friday, February 22nd, 2008
  • Dear Chief Romero: You’re off your rocker if you think you can bring federal charges against someone for merely coming with an amusing and creative way of criticizing your department. Also, in making a big deal out of this, you only helped the critic’s message reach a wider audience. So congratulations!
  • This is absolutely chilling. Story here. The officer was fired, but is now suing to get his job back. The reaction from the police union is almost comical. “What we find to be unreasonable was the behavior of the suspect from the point she came in the room.” Really? Nothing unreasonable about the pool of blood she was lying in? The woman wasn’t being particularly cooperative, but it’s awfully damning that the cop turned off the camera. And sorry, but you don’t get those injuries from “falling.”
  • A cop in New Haven will get to keep his taxpayer-funded pension after pleading guilty to stealing seized drug money and from funds earmarked to pay drug informants. The reason? He was able to submit retirement papers before the city got around to firing him.
  • This one is priceless.
  • Car cam catches Tennessee officer (allegedly) planting marijuana after a traffic stop.
  • After a neighbor photographed police engaged in a drug raid, two cops charged the neighbors’ home, forced entry without a warrant, seized the camera and destroyed the film, and arrested the men who took the photographs. Charges were later dropped, and the men are now suing. In court, the prosecutor who tried to bring charges against the men finally agreed they’d done nothing wrong, and that the cops were out of line. But she still wouldn’t call what they did “criminal.” A police captain referred to their actions as, “a mistake in judgment.” Seems like a rather mild characterization of a home invasion, theft, wrongful arrest, and wrongful detainment in response to someone who was exercising his First Amendment rights.