Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Officer shot during no-knock warrant; no drugs seized

In from the Gestapo tactics department:

On January 18th, 2008, Officer Jarrod Shivers of the Chesapeake Police Department was shot during entry while serving a "no-knock" warrant for marijuana in the middle of the night. As a result, the lone occupant, Ryan David Frederick, was charged with 1st degree murder after the original group of police called in SWAT for assistance. (Virginia Pilot)

First off, my condolences to the friends and family of the slain officer. It is a tragedy.

However, it is reported that after a second article appeared in the Virginia-Pilot that omitted any drugs from the seized items list taken from the house, one has to wonder if they had the right man or house. The subsequent complete radio silence by the department makes this look like a cover up of the worst degree. So my condolences to the man and his family, who in the absence of explanations by officials, seems like another victim of government overreaching.

In the defense of the police:
  • An informant told them that the suspect was growing quantities of marijuana in his garage, had a scale, and packaging equipment.
  • A warrant was issued, and the officers served it at the time of their choosing.
In defense of the suspect:
  • The Chesapeake PD spokesperson implied that the officers serving the warrant were in plain clothes. Now, if you had someone in plain clothes kick in your door in the dark, would you not legitimately assume this was a home invasion in progress and act to protect yourself? Home invaders are smart enough to pretend to be cops these days, too, so unless the uniform were absolutely clear, I'd argue that in the heat of the moment it would be impossible to make an informed decision, and I'd rather err on the side of my personal safety.
  • On the seized items list are "three shells, and a Bersa 'Firestorm' .380 hand gun". So am I to believe that an officer serving a no-knock warrant was not wearing a vest? A .380ACP round has less impact energy at the muzzle than a 9mm Parabellum/Luger round does at 25m. All modern, even concealable vests are rated to stop the latter.
Evidence the police used was an informant's statement. That's fine. However, isn't it reasonable to expect that they investigate some more before kicking in doors? Anyone can tell a cop that I am growing pot in a garage, and my door gets kicked in in the middle of the night?

If you were an officer serving a warrant of this sort, in the middle of the night, wouldn't you wear a uniform, or make it absolutely clear that you were police? Yelling "Police!" while kicking in the door isn't enough - home invaders (the criminal sort) do that too.

I think it's sad that this cost an officer's life, and ruined another. Is the fight against a small time pot grower really worth this cost? Remember, pot-heads don't beat their wives. Alcoholics do.

Of course, the online police board have an entirely different view on the matter.

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