On May 27th, Ryan Frederick is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on charges of first degree murder in the death of Det. Jarrod Shivers. We must hope this court appearance will end the wall of obfuscation and deception the Chesapeake Police have used to deny the right of citizen oversight of their actions on our behalf. Serious questions about the circumstances of Det. Shivers death remain unanswered, and Ryan Frederick’s rights, and by extension, those of every citizen, hang in the balance.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney will at last have to justify the improbable charge of Murder in the First Degree, which, even if the statements so far released by police spokesmen are taken to be the absolute truth, do not support the charge, as premeditation must be proven in First Degree Murder, and lacking any psychic abilities on the part of the prosecutor, there is no way to discern premeditation in this case.
Premeditation is usually proved by demonstrating a series of overt acts on the part of the accused that establish motive and anticipation of the act of murder. Such a series of actions is clearly missing in this case. Frederick did not know Det. Shivers, and did nothing to confront him, or any other law enforcement officer, and to the contrary, all of the overt acts leading to the death were committed by the police. Given the known circumstances of the shooting, the prosecutor would have to prove that Fredericks had formed the intention to shoot a policeman serving a warrant at some point and then waited for the opportunity. Given Frederick’s non-violent past and the absence of any evidence he was guilty of any serious crime beyond misdemeanor possession of marijuana(and thus would have reason to expect a police raid), only Fredericks himself could provide such testimony.
So, given the implausibility of the charge, we must question the motives of the police and prosecutor in continuing with such a gross overcharge. None of the possibilities cast a favorable light on our law enforcement officials.
One rational is that there is hope that the possibility of being convicted on a capital charge will frighten Frederick into accepting a plea to a lesser charge, (such as manslaughter rising out of negligence,) rather than have his day in court in hopes of being found not guilty based on self defense. It is not the proper duty of prosecutors to convict innocent citizens just for the sake of winning. Frederick was either acting in self defense, in which case Det. Shivers death is excusable, or he was negligent. A jury should decide if there is uncertainty in the mind of the prosecutor. Terrorizing Frederick into taking a deal is not a just outcome.
Another is that the police and prosecutor know that Frederick’s claim of self defense is valid, and that they will ultimately lose in court, and they simply wish to punish him anyway by keeping him in jail without bail for over a year awaiting trial, which is only possible if the first degree charge is kept in place. Using the technicalities of the legal system to exact vengeance on an innocent victim of police blunders would be most despicable of all.
Most frightening of all, for the rest of us, is the possibility that the prosecution intends to make the case that arming oneself to defend ones home is evidence of premeditation in and of itself. The consequences of that theory would be catastrophic to the rights of every Virginian who owns a firearm, or even a knife or bat. Equating the intention to defend one’s life and home with premeditation to commit murder if a mistaken identity leads to an accidental death would effectively deny the rights of self defense to all Virginians.
Several important questions regarding the death of Det. Shivers remain unanswered, though the answers are plainly known to the police.
It is time for the truth.
If those questions are not answered on May 27th, then the charge should be reduced by the judge to a more appropriate level and bail granted. If the answers to those questions are given, and support Frederick’s account of the incident, he should be immediately released with our apologies and all police and Commonwealth’s Attorney employees who have participated in the obfuscation and stonewalling these last four months should be disciplined.
Our Liberties are secured by the Rule of Law, and they are most endangered not by criminals, but by government agencies, which do not submit to that principle.