Breach of Trust, Unanswered Questions

It is far from certain that there was wrongdoing at any level in the Chesapeake Police Department in the tragic incident that took the life of Detective Jarrod Shivers and placed Ryan Frederick at risk of losing his freedom, if not his life, but the refusal of the Police leadership to fully inform the public of the facts of the incident have created at least the impression that there is something that they wish to hide. It is intolerable in a free society for the police to behave as though they were some sort of third world secret police force.

The gross overcharge of first degree murder against Mr. Frederick has the appearance of an attempt to pressure him into a plea bargain so the evidence need never be made public. That is also intolerable. At a minimum, it is time for the police to answer a number of questions that cannot compromise an honest case against Frederick so that the trust of the public might be restored. Among those questions are:

  1. Was the Confidential Informant also the burglar who broke into Frederick’s garage in the days before the raid? If so, was he directed to that address by his police handlers, a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment?
  2. Why was the Search Warrant served in this manner, instead of simply conducting the search peacefully or even in Frederick’s absence? The usual reasons for such entries: evidence that can be destroyed, dangerous criminals more safely taken by surprise, or hostages to rescue, were not present in this case. Such entries are clearly dangerous to both police and citizens, so why, other than to terrorize the subject of the search, was this method chosen?
  3. At what level was the decision made to serve the warrant in such a violent and dangerous manner? There was nothing in the warrant specifically calling for such a forced entery, was this decision made by the officers on the scene or their supervisors? Is this standard policy for all drug searches in Chesapeake, and if so, will this policy be changed for subjects with no history of violence?
  4. Why have all Police statements to the press been made by officers who were not at the scene when the raid was conducted? A succession of spokesmen have given contradictory versions of the event, first stating the officers were plainclothes, then in SWAT gear with “Police” on the vest and helmet which Fredericks was supposed to have been able to see, and now finally, the story is that he shot through the door and thus could not have seen those markings. Which version is true? Det. Shivers’ partner knows but he has not given a public account.
  5. The inventory of the search stated marijuana was found but specified no amount. The inventory further specified that indoor gardening equipment was seized, including lights and 4 small and one large container, adding to the impression that an illegal marijuana growing operation had been found. It was not until Frederick was arraigned two weeks later that we learned that the amount was less than an ounce, and not a commercial quantity. Were those containers empty, or did they contain cold-sensitive plants being wintered in the garage as Frederick claims? The police knew the night of the raid that the suspected marijuana growing operation did not exist. Why was the impression that Frederick was guilty of cultivating marijuana maintained for weeks after the police knew it was not the case?
  6. The inventory states that three cartridge cases, two .380 ACP cases and one .223 rifle case, were recovered. Frederick had only a .380 pistol. Nowhere in the police account has there been an admission that either Det. Shivers or his partner fired a shot, and over a month has passed with no explanation for that .223 leading many to speculate that there is a sinister reason for not accounting for that round. Who fired that round and where did the projectile go?
  7. Now that differing versions of the incident have been given to the press regarding shots being fired through the door, the truth can only be determined by the physical evidence, in particular the door which was taken by the police. Modern forensic methods can determine whether Det. Shivers was shot through the door or not with certainty, and no doubt this evidence has been examined by now. Why are the results of that analysis being withheld?

All of this information is in the hands of the Chesapeake Police. It will all eventually come out in court, and the defense attorney already knows the truth or it will be revealed to him in the course of discovery procedures, so there is no reason to withhold this information from the press or the public other than to try to prejudice potential jurors with pre-trial disinformation.

The Chesapeake Police owe full disclosure of the facts to the public, to Mr. Frederick, to the Chesapeake City Council, to Det. Shivers’ survivors and most of all, to the rank and file officers of the Chesapeake Police Department whose lives and effectiveness are placed at greater risk by these risky procedures and by the loss of cooperation and trust by the public.

At the least, the leadership of the Chesapeake Police Department have demonstrated that they lack a proper understanding of the relationship between a police department and the citizens they serve in a free society, and the Chesapeake City Council should reconsider whether they have placed that trust in the proper hands.

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11 Responses to Breach of Trust, Unanswered Questions

  1. Speaking for myself, Doc, I’m not all that far from certain that there was wrongdoing.

  2. Chuck says:

    I obviously don’t know specifics…here’s my thoughts:

    1. How would the police know unless the CI/burglar admitted it? This question suggests a huge conspiracy and downright corruption. Based on what?
    2. Drug search warrants are always classified as unknown risk or high risk, there is nothing routine or peaceful about them. The police do not control situations so much that they can “make” them peaceful. The police must take precautions for their safety and the safety of the public…and to accomplish the goal of the warrant; recovery of evidence of criminal activity and an arrest. Decisions are made based on information known at the time. The difference here is we know what drug evidence was recovered, after the fact. Had it been a substantially larger quantity or harder narcotics, would that make a difference to you? Again, your question is based on information from after the fact, when the police get crystal balls, then it is a fair question to ask because they would know what they would find, where Frederick would be, what he would do, etc. etc. etc.
    3. I’m sure CPD has policies, procedures, S.O.Ps, training, etc. that addresses this. Forcing entry with a knock and announce warrant is not preferred. But do they just go home if no one answers? What is your threshold for forcing entry with a search warrant for illegal activity? Never? Again, don’t base your answer on information from after the fact. The police did not know what they would find. They did not know if evidence was being destroyed while they knocked and waited. What do you expect from your police in trying to address the problem of illegal drugs in our neighborhoods? A tragedy known after the fact should not be used to guage the decisions made beforehand.
    4. What conflicting information? Between what Frederick says and speculation about what the police have said? Why are Frederick’s statements being taken as gospel? He killed a police officer, of course he’s going to say he didn’t know, it was an accident. I don’t know what he knew, only he does. The Chief and, even more so, the prosecutor controls the information that is released. Satisfying the public’s hunger for details is not a good enough reason to possibly jeopordize a criminal investigation or create bias in a potential jury pool, or violate the privacy rights of Frederick. This is an ongoing matter. Information is limited, but it should come out in court. Be patient. Plain clothes with my vest on top, I’ve been there. Both statements can be correct.
    5. Learning after the fact that the evidence you were looking for does not exist does not negate the validity of the search warrant or the police action. See #4 above about the delay in information, only the Chief or prosecutor can answer that. Evidence of a grow operation was found as you state. The search warrant was for a grow operation of marijuana. Frederick says he was growing something else. If it wasn’t there, of course he’s not going to admit he was growing dope, why would he?
    6. We only have speculation. You’re making an assumption an empty .223 cartridge automatically belongs to a police officer or came from a police officer. Why? That is a common round. This is a military town. Private citizens own .223 caliber weapons. We don’t know anything about it, its condition, where it was found, nothing. Don’t speculate. It might not have anything to do with this incident and was just located through a very thorough crime scene search and sweep and inventoried as required. Only CPD knows, its up to them to answer but just because they haven’t or won’t doesn’t mean a cover-up is happening.
    7. You want the evidence to be revealed before the trial? Won’t that bias a potential jury pool before the trial? When does that happen anywhere in our system of justice? Basic information is given. All the facts are held for trial and made public. Why should this case be different? As you’ve mentioned, Frederick’s freedom and maybe life are at stake. The government releasing information prematurely could jeopordize his chance at a fair trial or cause a mis-trial and the release of a man that killed a police officer. What is more important to you, the public’s need to know or the need for a fair and impartial criminal trial?

    Again, just my thoughts.

  3. Don Tabor says:

    Chuck, thank you for a thoughtful and detailed reply. You have provided better explanations than the official statements. As to your points,
    1 My suspicion regarding the CI rests on logic. The timing mentioned in the warrant affidavit and the time of the burglary are precisely the same. There are hundreds of better targets for a random burglary than Frederick’s house within a mile, so why his house at exactly that time?
    2 Frederick went to work at the same time every day, if the entry was going to be forced anyway, it could have as easily been done in his absence.
    3. Again, it all could have been done in his absence or as he left or returned with no risk to anyone.
    4 I would certainly give more credence to the police accounts than Frederick’s IF the account was given by the one other officer on the scene instead of others who were not there OR if the accounts didn’t change each time one is given.
    5 Why did the police report the containers but not the contents? If they were the cold sensitive plants Frederick claimed, what is the purpose of listing the equipment but not the actual plants found other than to create a false impression?
    6. I have a .223 rifle myself. I used to have a .380 pistol too, but I got rid of it because it lacked the power for an effective self defense weapon. But the .223 round was there and is listed in the inventory. Yet later reports only stated that three cases were found, omitting the fact that one of them could not have been from Fredericks gun. That is at the least suspicious and should be accounted for.
    7 If the police were remaining completely silent on the case, you could ague that withholding evidence was for the benefit of a fair trial. But they have made a series of damning accusations with no evidence to support them, and are withholding evidence that could benefit Frederick. They can’t have it both ways. Releasing facts supported by solid evidence can inform the public, but it cannot prejudice them.

    In any case, thank you for your input and for helping bring some clarity to this mess.

  4. Chuck says:

    Doc,

    1. Frederick admits to smoking dope, does he do it alone? Let’s just consider maybe he was growing pot at home. Maybe one of his dope smoking buddies knew this and either told someone who did the burglary or did it themselves. Logic indicates the burglary occured after the CI saw the plants, it doesn’t mean the CI informed the police and then just for the heck of it decided to steal what he just informed about. Bad timing for the police, nothing they could control, not evidence of wrongdoing.
    2. We don’t know it was “going to be forced anyway”. This was not a no knock warrant and it has been stated by the police that they announced their presence before attempting to force entry. There was no response I guess, was this intentional or do we believe Frederick? With more manpower, certainty of timing, unlimited resources, of course the police could have sent people to Frederick’s work, waited all day, any number of scenarios, but that is not always possible. It is easy to second guess but we don’t know what CPD knew. Was there a sense of urgency for some reason, do we think this is the only assignment these guys had to do that night, I don’t know.
    3. It could of, of course. But that doesn’t mean there was anything improper about the way it was conducted. Murphy struck it seems, but that doesn’t mean the police were wrong in their methods.
    4. Officers can not discuss issues without permission. The PIO is the mouthpiece of the CPD. She says what she is allowed to say. If a plainclothes narc dons his vest and helmet, is he no longer in plainclothes? Both descriptions of the officers’ dress that night are accurate, why wasn’t the picture painted better in the initial press release, who knows? But that doesn’t mean there is a cover up. A blog on pilotonline today indicated a news story that said there were 14 officers present that night. This seems reasonable to me as drug search warrants require sufficient manpower for safety reasons and to secure the premises and perimeter. Who was where? Don’t know, but I bet it comes out in court.
    5. What if there were no cold sensitive plants? What if the target of the burglary was what should have been in the containers? Pot smokers stealing from pot smokers… who would’ve thunk it! So, the CPD records the .223 casing, that could have easily been concealed, destroyed, overlooked, etc. but they don’t record the contents of the containers…seems to me there probably was nothing in them or else I’m sure they would have reported it.
    6. See above. Why voluntarily enter evidence that could be damning to them in the official record? Makes no sense. Doesn’t seem like something a group of officers that want to hide something would do.
    7. What accusations exactly? Possession of marijuana, first degree murder (we agree someone has been killed) and use of a firearm in commission of a felony (that would be the murder). What evidence are they witholding and from whom. The public really doesn’t count. Again, a thorough search warrant inventory form was completed and submitted and now is part of the public domain, but at the same time they are hiding stuff? That doesn’t add up. Maybe the CPD needs a lesson in media relations and the public wants answers, but somethings are better left for trial in a court room, not the court of public opinion.

  5. TC says:

    “With more manpower, certainty of timing, unlimited resources, of course the police could have sent people to Frederick’s work, waited all day, any number of scenarios, but that is not always possible.”

    Manpower shortage? Because and it seems you are saying you don’t have the man power available, that you no longer investigate, just get a warrant and charge in? You have cops in every school and one can’t take a long break after school? Homeland Security has flooded almost every dept in the nation with money to with as they please, and you can’t take the time to hang out and see what might be happening for a few hours?

    How many officers attended the funeral services? Where did the time come from?

    Doing thing right, takes time. You can’t create a grow operation overnight, or probably get rid of one in the same time either.

    “use of a firearm in commission of a felony (that would be the murder).”

    Unless a cop pulls the trigger.

    “The public really doesn’t count. ”

    Speaks volumes all by itself don’t it?

    Chuck I would think that the public is actually the first party where it counts. Do cops desire a public that helps them or a public that will target them, even if it’s just based on perception?

    Oh and what about that lady a few/many years ago that killed a cop in a raid and no charges were filed against her? Don’t remember, but it seems as though it was surprisingly similar to this case. Though sans the “drug war” chant.

    Chuck, what is your limit? How many citizens or fellow officers are you willing to bury because it happens to be against the law to smoke weed and harm nobody in the process? How many? 5-25-100? 1000?

    It’s against the law to drive over the limit as well, how many of those should be put to death because of it?
    I need to add that car crashes, many officer/duty caused remains the #1 cause of cops dying on the job, by a massive margin vs what is perceived as actually dying in a gun battle with crooks.

    What should we do with a rogue cop, once finally caught? Make him point man in warrant serving, no armor allowed? Bet he would learn to properly knock and announce at an appropriate time of day for those inside to answer, as if it was that Girl Scout your dept keeps talking about.

  6. Chuck says:

    TC,

    I think you have some deep-seeded issues that I can’t address. I assume you enjoy the occassional marijuana cigarette, or more. You have no idea, nor do I, the steps that led to this incident. Because it ended badly, you assume the police screwed up, rushed in, whatever. Nothing I say can change your opinion of law enforcement and I’m not going to try. Just remember one thing, and yes this is the same old mantra you always hear, because it is true: When you call 911 and need help, we will come, whether you hold us in contempt or high regard, it doesn’t matter, we will be there for you.

  7. Chuck says:

    TC,

    Oh yeah, regarding my “public really doesn’t count” comment. Don’t take it out of context: when weighing the need to inform the public or possibly jeopordizing an ongoing criminal investigation or administrative investigation or subesquent court proceedings, the later will win out over the former every time. And it should.

  8. Don Tabor says:

    TC- There are legitimate issues regarding the war on drugs, but they are not the issue in this case. Had the warrant been for a non-existent machine gun, or non-existent stolen TV sets, or non-existent pornography instead of a non-existent pot farm, the issues would be the same.

    The issues here are:

    Was the intent of the 4th Amendment evaded in obtaining the warrant?

    Was the service of the warrant in such a dangerous and violent manner good policy?

    Has the CPD been honest and open with the citizens it serves in the aftermath of the death of Det. Shivers?

    Those issues remain the same regardless of what the search sought to find.

    We can, and will, debate the wisdom of drug prohibition in this forum at some later time, but for now I would prefer we stay on topic and try to learn what really happened to create a situation in which a citizen, in fear for his life, took the life of a police officer, so we can demand that such conditions not be created in the future.

    Chuck – Again, thank you for your reasoned reply. Expert input is welcome. If you have not seen it, I suggest you look in the January archive and read “Knock, knock” to see why I have such an issue with what happened here.

  9. DB says:

    I’m sorry, just because you are against the war on drugs, and the unnecessary raids on soft drugs, does not make you a druggie…

    Chuck, you made some good points, but the moment you attempted to imply someone uses drugs makes me question your motivation of reply.

    Trust me, the benefit of the doubt will always go to the police officers, whether you like to admit it or not. I still have no clue what went down that night, so I simply have to suspend judgment. However, the stuff I hear out of the law enforcement community toward Frederick is despicable. The CPD is clearly trying to create a bias public, and it is not right.

  10. […] important questions regarding the death of Det. Shivers remain unanswered, though the answers are plainly known to the […]

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