Defending Your Home in Virginia

If you are looking for a definitive Virginia law explaining when deadly force may be employed to defend your home, you will not find it. Such a law was proposed las GA session by former Del. John Welch, but it was defeated due to opposition from VA’s Commonwealth’s Attorneys, leaving us with undefined case law only, guaranteeing virtually every case of self defense will be decided by the Commonwealths’ Attorney’s personal prejudices or a jury.

In principle, you are allowed to use deadly force if you reasonably believe you are at risk of loss of life or serious injury due to the unlawful act of another. But what is reasonable? It is not the same for everyone. A criminal hearing his door being breached might reasonably expect it to be the police, but an innocent person would only expect a criminal intent on doing him harm. Who knows what would be reasonable for a person committing a minor crime like misdemeanor possession of marijuana? You do not lose your right to defend your life by committing a misdemeanor.

In regards to the Ryan Frederick case, a lot of people seem to be getting the rules of safe hunting(be sure what you are shooting at, be aware of what lies beyond the target, etc) confused with the requirements for using deadly force in self defense. You are not required to positively identify a threat before defending yourself, you need only be convinced, to the standard of a reasonable man in your circumstances, that a someone is unlawfully placing you at risk of your life or serious injury. It doesn’t really matter if you turn out to have been wrong, so long as a ‘reasonable man’ in that circumstance would have believed himself to be in mortal peril. If you are right that it is a criminal, it is justifiable homicide, if you are wrong, but reasonably thought it was a criminal intent on doing you harm, it is excusable homicide, but either is a defense against a charge of murder.

Once that threshold is reached, you are entitled to use deadly force until the threat no longer exists, again to the standard of the reasonable man. It doesn’t matter if you fire one shot, or a hundred, or use a flamethrower. Those are questions of tactics, not legality. And it doesn’t mean you can’t shoot through a door or a couch. You are not required to let the thug shoot first or warn him, or even get a good look at you. In fact, you would be a fool to give up any tactical advantage once you are engaged in a battle for your life.

Applying this to Ryan Fredericks case, it makes no difference that it turned out to be police at his door and not thugs if a reasonable man in his circumstance would not have known that was the case. It was not his responsibility to check their identity or turn on lights or look for badges, as any of these would have increased his risk of death if it turned out it was a criminal home invasion. He had no duty to let them cross his threshold before taking action, it was a home invasion from the first strike intended to breach his door.

In my opinion, the police created a reasonable expectation in Fredericks mind that he was the subject of a criminal attack. It was the responsibility of the police, who created the circumstances, to be sure those inside the home knew the action was police serving a legal warrant. If Frederick could not hear them over the noise of his dogs barking, it was the duty of the police to use sufficient amplification (can the CPD not afford bullhorns?) to be sure he heard them, not Frederick’s to place his life at further risk by giving up tactical advantage by holding fire until any doubt was resolved.

Further, if harm came to bystanders when Frederick fired on what he believed to be criminal home invaders, that is still the responsibility of the police who initiated the confrontation. Whether Det. Shivers was at the door or simply in the line of fire makes no difference, though those who ordered the raid might well be guilty of negligent homicide.

In the end, Frederick did not go looking for trouble. The police brought trouble to his door, and they are entirely responsible for anything that happened as a result of the confusion they created by a poorly planned raid on his home.

We need to have definitive law in Virginia spelling out our rights to defend our homes as all this is really too much to consider when your door gets kicked in in the night.


36 Responses to Defending Your Home in Virginia

  1. Chuck says:

    Did the police “create the circumstances” leading to this incident or were they attempting to address the circumstance of criminal activity created by Frederick? Misdemeanor possession of marijuana is absolutely a minor offense to kick in a door or die for, but remember, they had probable cause to believe Frederick was growing marijuana with the intent to distribute it, a bit more serious (still not worth Shivers’ life we’ll all agree) offense. It is up to the prosecutor to prove Frederick knew or should have known it was the police at his door. If he can’t, well the guy who choose the path that led to this incident can go back home and grow his red maples. And I agree with you 100% our legislators need to get off their butts and address this for the good of us all.

  2. Don Tabor says:

    The “circumstances” I am referring to are bashing down his door without first making it absolutely certain he knew it was police serving a warrant.

  3. Chuck says:


    I wish they could have. But law enforcement very rarely knows “absolutely” what anyone is doing inside a home during a search warrant situation. I know there are some that will say CPD should have had infra-red cameras to see where Ryan was or flexible cord cameras slid under the door or any number of things. Then they would have known what he was doing (getting out of bed or rushing to the bathroom to destroy drugs) and reacted accordingly. Again, money, resources, time, all excuses as to why they did things the way they did. It is up to the citizens and political leadership (they hold the purse strings of a department’s budget) to make sure PDs have the manpower, technology and mandate to investigate drugs in the manner they want. And, again, Frederick says he didn’t know it was the police. How do we know he is telling the truth? It seems reasonable he is (no past history, likeable guy by all accounts of those who know him), but only he knows for sure. The prosecution has a huge burden in this.

    I’ll be the first to admit that the “end justifies the means” mentality of some officers contributes to incidents like this (get the dope at all costs, make the arrest, go to the next one, etc.). If citizens want drug investigations to take longer and require more resources (that they have to pay for) then I’m sure PDs will comply. Doing more in this situation probably would mean Shivers would still be here today. I do appreciate your point of view and the point of view of many of the bloggers I’ve interacted with on your site. I like learning, I hope the CPD does to.

  4. blewsdawg says:

    Chuck, you are a mindless myrmidon. Your only value here is to show the completely thought deprived mindset of those who agree with you. Thanks for that, though.

  5. John Wilburn says:

    A number of years ago, when I was much younger (and taking a sabbatical from data processing) I was an instructor in Kiempo, a particularly effective chinese self-defense art. Part of the training I gave to my students, was an understanding of a persons rights, when defending themselves from assault (home invasion is a form of assault).
    As Dr. Tabor has pointed out, these rights are entirely based on, “reasonable belief.” In the situation with Mr. Frederick, it is entirely, “reasonable” to believe that Mr. Frederick, “reasonably believed” that he was in jeopardy of his life & limb from the perpetrators of this home invasion.
    In my view (hopefully a reasonable, albeit outspoken man), it WOULD NOT be, “reasonable” for him to believe that the police would be paying him such a visit, but WOULD be, “reasonable” for him to believe that the burglars from 3 days prior were returning to do further mischief.
    I don’t believe that the CPD did the necessary research / legwork / homework etc, to ensure that the information provided by their “CI” to be true & correct – rubber-stamp, business as usual, coupled with some, “political pressure” to, “do something” about all these druggies in our fair city.
    It has been suggested by someone in another posting, that perhaps the involved officers were using this situation as a “practice” session, for their burgeoning SWAT skills. I find it entirely, “reasonable” to believe that as well.
    Doctors & Pshrinks use people as guinea pigs / lab rats all the time, to fill out their knowledge base / skill set – why shouldn’t the police? (You’ll make note, Dr. Tabor, that I didn’t get specific about the recent Dental School graduates that I dealt with, when I first joined the Navy).
    Along with a large number of other concerned citizens, I have been following this story very closely. I am not, as a rule, disposed to give scofflaws, drug dealers, cop killers etc, the benefit of the doubt. Having said that, I see no reason to disbelieve ANYTHING Mr. Frederick has stated publicly (through the press), but have a MULTITUDE of concerns as to the veracity of the various statements made by the minions of the city of Chesapeake, and others in the, “Law & Order” crowd.
    This city has wiped its feet on its citizens once too many times. As was said in the military – “SHIT HAPPENS” & “PAYBACK IS A MOTHER(deleted).”

  6. lookmanohands says:

    The “circumstances” for this tragedy were created long before CPD made a decision to bust into this kid’s house. If the Federal government was restricted to what the constitution actually allows, there would be no “carrot on a stick” Federal drug enforcement money for local governments to salivate over and then worry about losing if they didn’t produce the goods. As a local cop near the end of my career, I’ve been placed in Det. Shiver’s situation more times than I care to think.

    As a Libertarian, (I only recently decided that must be what I am) I never initiated this kind of warrant as a result of my own investigation. The reason? I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and actually read the document instead of relying on an instructor to tell me what it says. It’s not a complicated writing and can be quite easily understood. No need for the countless lawyers and judges to “interpret” it for us.

    That said, did I participate in those kinds of warrants as a member of the team? Yep. I knew that a warrant was gonna get served, whether I participated or not. All I could do was go into that bad situation, not created by me, and do everything in my power to minimize the very obvious potential for disaster.

    Like the Constitution says, we are endowed by our Creator with the right to defend ourselves. Certain elements of our government have come to believe that right comes from the GOVERNMENT, and as such, can be taken away when the government sees fit. It don’t say that in my copy of the Constitution.

    Frederick is now placed in the position that I’ve also been in many times; that of having to justify his use of force to defend himself from perceived or actual physical harm. When an officer’s use of force is investigated, the 1st question always asked is: What conditions did he/she create that increased the potential for violence or injury and what could have been foreseeably done to mitigate that risk? That ball wasn’t even in Frederick’s park. Unless completely new facts are brought to light, it was totally in the control of the police and the circumstances were thrust upon him.

    I had a poster on the Va Pilot argue that, even though he thinks pot should be legal, he still defends the right of the police to conduct an armed assault on a person’s home for a voilation of that statute. That’s why the Constitution was written. Because our Founding Fathers recognized that our new government would inevitably include people in power with no better judgement than that poster. We are powerless as a people to change anything until we educate the majority of our citizens (and our leaders!) as to what’s actually written in our Constitution.

  7. TC says:

    Redley has a new post up with fresh information, personally obtained. A kibble…

    “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.”

  8. Keith says:


    I have long heard of stories of police SWAT teams going to the wrong house to serve a search warrant and wounding or killing someone by accident. In cases like this, the officers involved usually have blanket immunity as does the cities for sovereign immunity. It’s usually “tough cheese” for the citizen.
    If someone approached you with a baseball bat in attempt to kill you with it, and you pulled out a 9mm and cleaned his clock, you would probably be charged with manslaughter and using excessive force. Now if you were an OFF DUTY out of uniform police officer or a sheriffs deputy or even IN uniform, I don’t believe any charges would be placed against the officer. Simply because of WHO he his. The truth is that a law abiding citizen cannot fear for his life the same way a police officer, judge, or prosecutor can and use the force he deems necessary. I believe that my life or the lives of my family are worth no more or no less that that of a police officer and his family. However the commonwealths attorneys seem to take a different point of view.
    As for Delegate Welch’s attempt to address self defense in home invasion, I remember he submitted a similar twice in the legislature and both times it was defeated in committe (in the senate I believe) and voting no was Senator Ken Stolle (former police officer). For HB709, you can bet that Delegate Mathieson (former police officer) will vote no on this bill and any other self defense measures.
    Police have a difficult job, but they are NOT holier than thou.

  9. Chuck says:

    Blewsdawg, did you even read what I posted? All of it? I’m mindless? I’ve not personally attacked anyone on this site, your emotions are getting the better of you.

  10. Myrmidon: a loyal follower; especially : a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously

  11. Chuck says:

    That’s me, you’ve got me pegged, especially the mindless part. Integrity to do the right thing, ethical training, professonalism, things I’ve mentioned more than once on this site, all are elements of mindlessness and doing whatever you’re told whether right or wrong. Again, you guys pick out those statements that suit your perception of what a cop should be saying on this site, not the whole message I’ve been trying to convey. Nice. You’ve painted me with a broad brush for some reason. You’re stereotyping me. I’m enjoying our discussions, those that actually are anyway and not insults.

  12. Don Tabor says:

    OK guys, let’s keep this about ideas and not personalities.

    Let’s keep it foremost in our minds that the greatest primary in this mess is the loss of a life. Let’s also remember that ruining another life rather than admit mistakes would be another tragedy. And that the worst tragedy of all would be to fail to learn from the mistakes and keep making the same ones at the cost of more lives and lost freedom.

  13. Chuck,

    Have you spoken with any of Ryan’s neighbor’s, friends and family, who were there? I have. Radley Balko did. He came all the way from northern Virginia yesterday, just to speak to those folks at the rally, and he visited the house. You live in the area, Chuck. Have you made the effort, before coming to your decision. Their testimony will kill any chance of Ryan being convicted of murder. I hope you’re still hangin’ ’round here when they do brother.

    Have you questioned whether the police and prosecution are lying, Chuck? Their story has changed three times, now. Which version do you currently believe. Careful, now. The version you believe probably won’t be the one that goes to court with the prosecution.

    Do you know the identity of the informant, his history, and degree of credibility? I now do. So does Broccoletti. Once his story gets into the trial, this case will go the way of Nifong’s Fraud. I REALLY hope you’re still hangin’ ’round here when it does.

    Were you aware that the bong, and the three joints were found in the attic, covered in dust? I do.

    Have you questioned why the city had to bring in a retired judge and a prosecutor that has already been voted out of his office, both from different cities? A judge and prosecutor with no political futures to be concerned about?

    Have you wondered yet about the .223 bullet casing found at the scene, that the CPD doesn’t want to discuss, even though they’ve discussed nearly every other aspect of this case at some time or another?

    I haven’t spoken with any of the cops involved, before you ask. Only one cop alive today was there when the shots were fired. That was Dale Ward. He ain’t talkin’ to me. The rest of the fourteen cops that the prosecutor was talking about on Wednesday showed up only after the shooting. They have no good information for me, whatsoever, since the critical question is, did Ryan know, or should he have known that he was shooting at a cop with a warrant. The cops who weren’t there cannot shed any light on that question.

    Emotion, Chuck, has nothing whatsoever to do with my thoughts on this matter. I wonder if emotion has anything to do with your intransigence in the face of the facts that have been brought to light. Maybe the idea of questioning the integrity of any other LEO’s is an emotional issue for you.

    And as far as you not attacking anyone personally on this site; maybe, maybe not. But I spent six hours yesterday with close to two dozen of his neighbors yesterday, who you are calling de facto liars, with your ‘I believe the cops side of the story’ schtick. Just curious why you didn’t stop by yesterday for a chit chat with them. Surely you knew about the rally, since I promoted it here and over at IFAQ

  14. I don’t want to make it about the personalities, Doc. I really don’t. But Chuck has suggested in previous comments that we who question the police story merely cannot be convinced otherwise, because we “mistrust” the police. If that’s relevant in his mind, I thought it would also be relevant for him to consider that he may also have the appearance of yet another cop who refuses to entertain questioning the motives or competence of anther cop, Sauce for the goose…

    I’ve left him alone up to this point, but the routine is getting old. I do hope he keeps talking though. His portion of crow is growing steadily.

  15. TC says:

    I’ve noticed a rather continuous deterioration in Chucks words since his arrival.

    That arrogance of “the dept can do no wrong” attitude. Never apologize even in the face of some very strong possibilities that his dept might get a 50% budget cut.

    Chuck I do think you are trying and I as well do not desire to see you depart this discussion, it’s probably going to be going on for some time and even if not agreed with and criticized, it remains a valuable contribution.

    I do try to keep my comments general, but now and again I can use a smaller projectile. Don’t take it so personally Chuck, because it’s a by far larger brush I use, you may be but a single strand of.

    If you have looked at the Duke LAX case much, one big time notation is that the team created some “blue,(as in Duke blue), wall of silence! Total fabrication and in direct opposition of all the facts! The entire team volunteered to talk with and even submitted to DNA testing! Results of that were suppressed, and Nifog upon hearing such, actually said, “Were Fucked”!

    I mentioned that to ask this, how come “Dale Ward.” is hiding behind his blue wall? See this really does not need to go to trial either, Dale just needs to tell the truth and write it down and in a public manner to disarm the lamb duck politicos involved with the railroad. OF NOTE; Nifong did not to the whore Cyrstal either, in fact ever directly.

    That is all! It’s simple, one man needs to stand up and be a real man! Tell the real story and end this fiasco!

    Dale is the sole person acting under color of law that can end this for all parties concerned, especially Ryan. Dale can save the community millions of dollars in just holding the trial, and it will cost them millions to have a trial.

    Oh and at this point, Chesapeake is getting sued, no matter what happens to Ryan, a lawsuit of a massive dollar amount will be filed against the city, county, and CPD with named officers. It’s just the nature of lawyers, count on it.

    It’s actually becoming more obvious that CPD fouled this whole thing up.

  16. Chuck says:

    Okay, I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. Alright, if the CPD can be lying, why can’t the folks on the other side? You believe they’re telling the truth. Have you talked to ALL of the witnesses? I don’t know if the CPD has or not, neither do you. Let’s be reasonable, why wouldn’t friends and family and neighbors say things in support of Ryan? They like him, they’re upset about this. I’m not saying they are lying, they are more than likely honestly saying what they believe from their perspective after having a month to think about it. I don’t know. But you know the CPD is. That’s the difference in our discussions. You’ve taken a side without all of the facts and are speaking in absolute terms. I’ve not once done that.

    CIs have been under ethical scrutiny for years (Stop Snitching movement). I know that. So do you. The CPD has the burden to show why they believe their’s was reliable in this instance. We’ll see if they can do that in Court. A discussion on their use could be a topic for later if you want – and no, I’m not always supportive of them, but there are cases where they’ve helped to take some very bad folks off the street (and I’m not talking the Frederick case, just CI use in general).

    The CPD did a miserable job getting complete and accurate information out on this thing in a timely manner, I agree. Adding new information each time looks bad.

    I’ve talked about the .223 casing in previous discussions. They recorded it on search warrant return and have made it public. Why would they do that if they thought it was something they needed to cover up? Why doesn’t this one little act speak volumes against the position on this blog that they are lying? Hide the shell casing and continue the charade. Don’t report it and then lie about other stuff. I guess if Chesapeake is corrupt they’re just not that good at it. Good for all us citizens.

    As far as your knowledge of only two people at the front door, how does that make sense to you. Tactically outfitted officers and they will only send in two on the entry team? That’s not the way it is done. I’ll bet anything a reenactment is done and we’ll see an entry team stacked and ready to enter the home, consisting of more than 2 guys. The witness may be mistaken. Do you think that could be a possibility? But, yes I guess it is possible that the CPD will have 13 other officers lie in court to convict Frederick. That is in essence what your position will be if they testify that they were there and what they were doing, isn’t it?

    I have no problem questioning the integrity of anyone. “The truth is in the details” as they say in some investigations. I don’t know all the details.

    Dale Ward will no doubt stand up in Court and testify to the events that led to the death of his partner and friend. What more do you want from him? Frederick’s friends will, in my opinion, get to see him again. Ward won’t have that chance.

    As far as the bong and joints being covered in dust. That’s pretty detailed information you have. Hidden in the actic. Okay. I’ve already said a misdemeanor anything is not worth an officer’s life. It’s still illegal and Frederick still admitted to being a pot user on TV. What ever spin you want to put on that, fine.

    Folks, I’m asking questions just like you. I’m not filling in the blanks. That’s the CPDs job. I’m speculating and offering opinions just like you, only on the other side of the fence. This is a serious situation and we have strong opinions. I don’t want to believe in this area that there is PD that is as corrupt as you suggest. Now, like I’ve said before, you took the time to meet with friends and neighbors of Frederick. Take the time to do a ride-along in Chesapeake. See for yourself if the caliber of people you think they are is correct.

    Special prosecutors and substitue judges are nothing new. The Commonwealth’s Attorney in Chesapeake already said she asked for them because of her close relationship with the CPD narcotics unit and Shivers. The same for the judge, which is designed to ensure the trial is as fair as possible. Again, you’ve put a negative spin on something that is done all the time and largely for the benefit of the accused.

    TC, are you an english teacher? I always like constructive criticism for my writing, but I am trying to “talk” and get thoughts out quickly, just like you. Sometimes my fingers can’t keep up. I’ll do better if I’m being graded.

    “Talk” to you later.

  17. No, Chuck. I know Ryan has told one story, and one story only. I also know that Broccoletti has told the same story, and the neighbors are also telling that one story. The side prosecuting him has changed theirs. Not once. Not twice. Three times.

    The neighbors were there. With the exception of the thus far silent Dale Ward, the member s of the prosecution side who have spoken were not. The neighbors wouldn’t like him a whole lot if he was this dangerous guy Ebert was talking about last week. In fact, if he was, it would be in the interest of the neighbors to get him out. If he was the drug dealer the cops thought he was, bringing dangerous people into the neighborhood, it would be in their interest to get him out.

    The neighbors are incentivized to set him up if he’s dangerous, and likewise incentivized to get him back if he’s a good stable neighbor. The cops are incentivized to send him up the river, out of their own emotion over the loss of one of their own. Likewise, they are incentivized to paint him as a bad guy to hide any mistakes they may have made. and if you think cops are above that kind of thing, just look up Katheryn Johnston.

  18. Chuck says:

    Aren’t defense attorneys supposed to tell the story their client wants them to? You make it sound like all of the neighbors had lawn chairs out watching this event unfold. I doubt that. What about the news reports and witness accounts of officers dragging Det. Shivers away and performing CPR. Sounds like an immediate response to me, like they were right next to him, not showing up after the fact.

    If possible, can you briefly describe your perception of the 3 versions told by the CPD? Or, did they just provide an incomplete picture of the puzzle (not good I’ll agree) and just add another piece here and there? I think I know a few things you’ll mention: crawling through the door vs. standing in the yard (or practically standing in the yard as I think the prosecutor said). Who in the CPD said Shivers was crawling through the door? Did anyone in the CPD ever say Shivers made entry or was the first officer or was only with one other officer? I know a ton of bloggers have said it. Also, plain clothes vs. tactical gear with POLICE all over it. Different versions or descriptions of what could be the same thing. Most narcotics detectives routinely wear plain clothes and then put their tactical gear (vest) on top. Is this possible? When asked point blank, “Were they in plain clothes or in uniform?” the PIO knows they’re a plain clothes unit, she’s not thinking about their tactical gear, so she says plain clothes. Then, she comes back and says they were wearing clearly marked gear with POLICE on it. I got it. I understand it doesn’t look good. Is my speculation reasonable or just a B.S. excuse by a cop refusing to see the police were wrong and are lying?

    I’m sure each of the 13 officers that were with Detective Shivers that night would love to tell their side of the story. Should they be willing to give up their careers to do it or should they wait until Court like the CPD wants and no doubt has directed them to?

  19. Don Tabor says:


    Thanks for hanging in here in the face of what must appear to be a hostile audience.

    My Dad always warned me not to look for malice when stupidity was an adequate explanation, and I am trying to apply that rule to the statements of the CPD.

    As I recall the “developing” versions, the first was from the official spokeswoman who made the “Plainclothes” statement and that Shivers was there with his partner only.

    That was followed by the Canine officer who was not there who made the “We did everything right and would do it the same statement. He also made the claim that Shivers was always the ‘breacher.’

    Then came the official “All officers were wearing body armor” statement which specified no number.

    After that came the FOP spokesman with the first claim of shooting through the door.

    The crawling through the bottom of the door statement was from a Frederick relative relaying his description of the events.

    Now we have the official “another officer was at the door and Shivers was back from the door when hit.” Also, we now are told there were 14 officers there.

    It sounds to me like a lot of people who were not there repeating what they heard, but had no real knowledge of, as first hand fact.

    I think my Dad was right, but I’m not sure that having the CPD run by stupid people is that much better than by malicious people.

    I did speak to one of the neighbors directly and was told that the larger number of officers arrived after the shooting, and that there was only one police car there until Shivers was on the ground being tended to by his partner.

    Unless it was a clown car, I don’t see 14 officers arriving in one car.

  20. Speaking for myself, stupidity explains the problem as it originated.

    Prosecuting the kid for shooting what he reasonably believed his home was being invaded borders on malice, but is more likely a case of CYA by all the different groups of cops, prosecutors, union reps and others with flesh in game.

    Add in another component of CYA, in that some are worried that Ryan will have a civil claim that may include the estate of Shivers. This may or may not be truly the case, but if other cops perceive that Shivers’ family could potentially lose any benefits to a lawsuit, I’m certain they would rather send this kid up the river.

    There may or may not be any malice on the part of some cops who know that Ryan killed a cop, and exigent circumstances don’t matter to them. I’m sure this is a small percentage of cops, and it doesn’t appear that those folks will have any particular influence over the case.

    Malice? True malice? No, I don’t believe that’s a factor on the part of the cops or Frederick. But the capital murder charge that Ebert talking about sure assumes malice.

  21. Vancon says:

    Two? TWO!?!

    There’s a far difference between two and fourteen.

    Four, six and eight I can see, doubled into two teams. No reason to break the buddy system, since it works and you don’t have to. Yes, the same system they teach you in kindergarten. One on the front another to the back door or location of evidence. The horsemen call it a buffalo smash, when you really need to drive a suspect into a corral. Usually winds up with some crook running through a door and catching a baton to the face. I like it. Simple, effective, safe and it’s a good introduction to the concepts of law and order for some folk.

    For the record, I do shave my head bald but in all fairness that’s more due to nature than my doing. Beard too, which the wife loves and yes, I am a big, intimidating bastard when I want. I saw that come up in the other comments.

    Brother Chuck, you’re going down swinging and I wouldn’t expect any less. I hope you take a few of ya with’em because there’s some things being said here that I personally would slap people in the mouth for. I’ve been doing it for a while. No marks. There’s speaking plainly and there is common courtesy, bad manners run counter to both.

    I hope you read that.

  22. If I personally seem hostile, I’d like to explain the two things that get me there.

    First is this repeated use of the excuse “hey, he admitted he smokes pot.” That one really makes my blood boil, I’ll admit that. To suggest that that is a crime worse than the consequences of the raid is just plain intellectually dishonest. If the police intentionally used that level of force to recover three joints and a dusty bong, it would be time for the torches and pitchforks. Not Chuck, not even the most corrupt cop would ever want to place police officers and citizens at that level of risk over that sort of return. So I won’t tolerate it as a justification after the fact when a raid goes wrong.

    Second is the characterization that we spin the facts, because we “mistrust the police.” I won’t do too much speaking for Doc Tabor, but I’ll vouch that he explicitly does trust the police in all but the most obvious cases of malfeasance. I do, in fact, come much closer to mistrusting the police, so I’ll take up the defense against that accusation. I don’t mistrust the cops. I also don’t trust them, solely because they wear badges. Cops are human. They make mistakes, just like the rest of us. They are not our moral superiors. I want them to meet the standard of probable cause, not just cause for suspicion, BEFORE they conduct a raid. And when a mistake is made, I want the cops to acknowledge it, and make restitution, not prosecute a civilian for a crime that would not have occurred, had it not been for the botched raid. And, I do not trust the police to investigate themselves. That is NOT intransigent mistrust of the police.

  23. Chuck says:

    The CPD seems to have screwed the pooch on their media and public relations efforts with this. I agree Doc, stupid is a much better characterization than malicious. Will anything any of them say come trial time hold any credibility for anyone here? It is obvious they won’t be putting much, if anything else out to the public and are waiting for court. Is the damage already to great and irreparable?

    Rick, I’m not suggesting any misdemeanor crime warrants forced entry into someone’s home. They thought they were going for a grow operation. It appears they were wrong. Also, many people can see or read the same thing and come away with a different understanding. Substitute that thought for spin.

    Folks it’s been fun, but I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time or mine. I’ll check back once in a while just to see what’s cooking and if I feel like being the whipping boy again I’ll chime in. Who knows, maybe most of us will agree on some future issue some day and get to whip up on some other idiot. Be safe.

  24. Vancon says:

    The media relations are ex post, not ex ante. I hope you stick around and keep contributing… I’ve always had a fondness for hot-headed young pups, since I was one too.

    The ex ante is the part you should really take a look at Chuck. Now, I do realize that we have something of a different take here in Canada. I was never military, nor is anyone in my unit as far as I know. It’s just a rare skill set to see here in police work. It’s a little more common amongst the horsemen, larger recruit pool with more slots to fill.

    There’s a long road between two and fourteen. If in any other circumstance two narcotics investigators took the door to a grow op they’d been sitting on for two months with forced entry… well, the first place I’d be looking is toxicology reports. That’s not meant to cast aspersions in this case, just the way my ‘hunch bone’ reacts. Work in the section long enough and cops will get high, by accident or on purpose. Either that, or you’ve got that SWAT training overwhelming their better judgment as investigators.

    From a personal standpoint, both suck but I’m slightly more tolerant of the former than I am the latter.

    If it was fourteen… then you’ve got them running around outside a home, in the rain and dark, armed with assault rifles and wearing combat armour. I’m guessing they were in full on SWAT tactical gear, since our helmets come in only four varieties… SWAT, riot, bicycle and bike. This is on a residential street, at a time when you know it’s more than likely there’ll be people in every home. No lights, no on scene ambulance… and if you’ve got time to gear up with one of those gucci’d out AR-15s, you’ve got time to call a bus.

    Now, that could be standard procedure for CPD when busting a grow op… but… I work in a city of three million give or take and quite frankly, I don’t think we have the assault rifles to spare. When we do break them out, we clear several streets in a radius. It’s nice to hear about such things as ‘fire discipline’ and ‘controlled bursts’ but I can recall a time when I used one of those old rotary telephones as opposed to my baton.

    I don’t think the damage to the CPD is beyond fixing. The city manager leading the review looks to be a pretty smart cat and it seems like he played the review wisely. Outgoing chief and an event that would get it pushed through. I hope it helps. Right now there are three hundred some odd officers scared that the next door they go through will be the one that gets them killed. Shivers was their guy when it came to those doors. Now comes the chance for the department to choose between doing it the same, doing it harder or doing it right.

  25. lookmanohands says:

    You guys are killing me. There is so much quality thought and sincerity in most of the posters here that I gotta risk making myself known because I know in my heart I’m among friends. But, I’m not too sure how popular my honesty might be among the LEO community. I’m a local cop, retirement age, hoping to stick it out a few more years for strictly financial reasons. I didn’t get into this work for financial reasons, but my wife stuck with me through it all and she deserves a break at this point. If I have to explain that, you wouldn’t understand anyway.

    We are about to IMPLODE under the weight of this “drug war”. We are willing to risk death in order to keep our brother from arriving at the same conclusion many of us in law inforcement came to years ago. Drugs suck, for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with whether they’re legal or not. The average Govt agent kicking down your door is 23-35 years old and has at least smoked pot in his pre LEO years. To assume that every pothead whos’ door we disintegrate deserves the possibilitry of execution for defending his home is quite hypocritical. I, for one, will be willing to admit that I participated in this “war” because it was what was expected of me and I didn’t have the balls to resist it. I NEVER believed that the guy I was going after, unless he’d already hurt someone, was a bad guy. I DID believe that he was messed up in the head. But did we have a right to straighten him out at the point of a gun? Not by my heart or my country’s Constitution.

  26. TC says:


    “We are about to IMPLODE under the weight of this “drug war”. We are willing to risk death in order to keep our brother from arriving at the same conclusion many of us in law [enforcement] sp, came to years ago.”

    Then why does not LE make a much larger voice against the very laws that are sending them to their summary executions? Last I checked every member of LE is also a citizen. Why don’t we see officers like yourself (under cover of drapes and such), on the tube declaring such crap as the crap it is? Actually I know the answer and it’s MONEY!

    The problem is primarily tactics, change the tactics alter the results, sans the paltry ounces of stuff recovered to make a case, people live.

    Cops have discretion, yet they are willingly dashing into situations that I’m sure they are not in hopes of catching a bullet, but for sure have a great chance of doing so.

    Implode is not exactly right, you are on the verge of becoming an open target part of the time and every time you break down a door in particular.

    I wish nobody dies, but this fatal effort will continue till citizens arm themselves to a point that if anybody attempt to break down a door, they best have better stuff than current issue. Citizens are actually getting fed up with it! I’m sure it would be a real bummer to have the backside of the vest contain the round. Worse would be it hit the house occupants across the street!

    Initially expect a few raids on your own houses by your own brothers, then judges that seem to refuse a higher level of proof from officers. Such will move onto lawmakers. Because until they get a real dose of what they are encouraging, they will not understand. And more importantly the press will not get involved enough to make this a national issue, which it is.

    It’s really sad to say, but when you have a group making laws, and handing the end decision over to kids, (yes 25 yr olds are kids), to enforce, that they are really not smart enough to see how slippery of a slope they allowed many to wander out on.

    But stopping this shit will begin with departments all across the nation! Departments that will force officers to do an actual investigation PRIOR to gaining a warrant. Departments that will not be afraid to stand up within days and say we messed up! Even though one of our own died, we messed up.

    I’ve said this so many times, officers need more Andy Griffith training than arms training!

    SWAT teams if and where they exist, should exist for a reason. The reason they were formed. If their community does not have such a proven need, then they should be disbanded. If the community does have need of such a team, then they should be as locked out of action, until needed, as if they were behind bars themselves.

    In closing, Chuck, the CPD it appears have gone out of their way to phuk this case up. But that is the result of a cover up in today’s world. Dale is the key to this case, he could be on parade, but the attorneys of the world have caused his silence to be actually forced. Too bad, they did the same to the hospitality industry and many others, never apologize, it’s indicative of wrong doing. I could go on. Reality is that it is the cause of the legal industry that has contributed way too much to the actions of people after incidents.

    The decision to use a rent a judge and a rent a DA is not going to prove wise. I hear a small group of NC attorneys are headed your way. Anybody remember Nifong?



  28. lookmanohands says:

    TC, your comments are spot on. I’ll need to clarify 2 points though: 1st, when I said risking death, I meant any death, not just a LEO. Frederick’s death would have been just as tragic and unnecessary if he’d held his fire and been “aquired” by the entry team before he could react properly to their commands.

    Don’t blanket the blame on the 25 year old “kid” cops. Yes, some of them are in it for the rush and hope for gunfire, but not all of them. I was one of them who didn’t. Just like any soldier, I signed up to be a factor in the right side of the greater good. In order to do so, just like a soldier, I had to fight where they put me, even if I didn’t always support the cause. No, the blame for these tragedies rests with the Generals, not the Grunts.

    Could I have done what some may say is honorable and simply turned in my badge? Yup. I’ve come close on more than one occasion, and not just over this issue. But I knew in my heart that my career had involved many more acts of kindness, service, and righteousness; and those acts I CHOSE to do, I wasn’t ordered to. So I stuck it out in order to continue to make those positive differences where I could. And, within the ranks of my brother officers, to this day, I make my opinions of our “drug war” known. And no more than that, because after all it’s only my opinion. Maybe after I retire I’ll have the time to do the reserach to back up my gut with facts; maybe then I’ll write a book. But for now I’ll be content with intellectual discussion with my peers.

  29. lookmanohands says:

    Oh, and one other thing I should clarify; I was not and never aspired to be a member of a tactical unit. I’ve always been just a street cop. Most of my door kicking was done when we actually used a foot instead of a battering ram. I was chosen for the task because I had strong legs and no brains.

  30. TC says:


    I’ve already figured you as one of the good guys in badge and it’s great we have many and I’m sure we do. Keep up the good work and pressure those above you to watch Andy Griffith shows!

    Policies and procedures do come from the top.

    One can only bet that RF would be dead as his front door if entry was gained as Ryan was entering the darkened room with two dogs whoopin it up! One could also expect two dead dogs as well.

    Was not intending to use such a narrow brush about the age group, as they are led and impressionable. Some over eager.

  31. TC says:

    Slain Teen’s Family Settles With Sheriff’s Office
    Peyton Strickland

    Posted: Feb. 27, 2008

    Wilmington, N.C. — The family of a Durham teen killed by a former New Hanover County deputy has reached a legal settlement with the county.

    Peyton Strickland, 18, was killed on Dec. 1, 2006, as New Hanover County deputies and University of North Carolina at Wilmington police raided a rental house in search of two stolen PlayStation 3 video systems.

    Strickland, who was unarmed, was shot in the head and in the chest as he went to open the front door, authorities said.


    So much for target verification eh?

  32. Justice for Shivers says:


    You seem to know what you are talking about….But the truth is you have no idea what you are talking about. You don’t know how much marijuana was found or where it was found at. Oh I forgot you are taking the word of a killer and a drug user. Det Ward was not there that night . If you really knew what you were talking about you would know he was out of work that week. So do not put any of this on him. I’m sure every Officer there that night would love to talk, but they can’t. They would love for the truth to come out so everyone would stop making up lies to make poor little Ryan look innocent. The bottom line is he killed Det. Shivers by shooting him through a door. There were a number of officers there to witness it. Just wait for the trial, then you will know what really happened.

  33. Vancon says:

    It’d have to be under half an ounce… which is the weight for distribution charges.

  34. “Oh I forgot you are taking the word of a killer and a drug user.”

    As at least some of the people on this blog know, I am currently neutral on this issue. I haven’t seen enough information either way to throw in with a side.

    Having said that, I take issue with your assumptions. You assume that someone who has not gone to trial is guilty, when the facts seem to learn toward an honest mistake. Even discounting third party information, we know that there was a break-in at Ryan’s house three days prior. Had someone broken into my house three days prior and then I heard someone breaking in again, I might react the same way. He’s not been convicted of murder. Why don’t we wait for the trial before we call him a killer?

    As for drug use…. I’ve never used drugs. I’m confused, though, as to how someone who drinks alcohol is somehow more trustworthy than someone who smokes marijuana. They have similar effects, do they not? Yet somehow, we don’t figure that into person’s overall trustworthiness unless he or she committed a crime while drunk. Unless Ryan was high when he shot Shivers, his drug use is irrelevant.

  35. […] who are not placing you in peril. I previously examined Virginia law on self defense in the article Defending Your Home in Virginia. Asking the question serves no purpose other than to imply that was not the case, especially when […]


    […]Defending Your Home in Virginia « Tidewater Liberty[…]…

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