Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ryan Frederick Update And Other Stuff That Gets My Blood Boiling After 9:00 PM

Readers may remember the story of Ryan Frederick, who I mentioned several weeks ago. Radley Balko has done amazing work on the topic and has the latest update. Frederick, with no history of violence or criminal offenses, has been denied bond in his trial for the murder of Chesapeake police detective Jarrod Shivers.

Radley also reports on the Virginia bill that would grant homeowners more leeway in using lethal force during home invasions. Apparently, Virginia legislatures want to make sure the bill wouldn't apply to situations where police officers are killed- So if someone busts down your door in the middle of the night, the law would allow you to shoot first and ask questions later, unless the people breaking down your door just happen to be cops.

Radley also took the time to link back to the tragedy of Cheryl Lynn Noel. Just using the ol' cut and paste, that story is below.

The facts of the case are awful: A Baltimore SWAT team conducted a 4:30am raid on the Noel family home after finding marijuana seeds and “trace” amounts of cocaine in the family’s outdoor trash can. After battering down the door, they deployed a flashbang grenade, then rushed up the steps to the bedroom of Cheryl and Charles Noel.

Cheryl Noel’s stepdaughter had been murdered several years earlier, and her son had recently been jumped by thugs on his way home. So the family had a legal, registered handgun in the home, and Noel had reason to be frightened. When a SWAT officer kicked open the bedroom door, Noel sat up in bed with the gun, apparently pointed downward, not at the officer. The officer, who was wearing a helmet, mask, shield, and bulletproof vest, and who came in behind a bulletproof ballistic shield, fired twice. Noel slumped over, and the gun slipped out of her hand. The officer then walked over to her and ordered her to move further away from the gun. She couldn’t, of course. When she didn’t, he shot her a third time, essentially from point-blank range.

That’s Charles Noel’s version of events. But it’s supported by the autopsy done on his wife. And early police accounts of the raid have since been revised. The Baltimore Sun, for example, first reported that police said Noel was pointing her gun at them when they entered. That has since changed. She was holding the gun, but not pointing it at anyone.

As for Noel, there’s simply no way the woman would have been holding a gun had she known the intruders were police. After her death, neighbors circulated a petition vouching for her character and integrity. She ran Bible study groups on her lunch break. She’s dead not because she’s any sort of threat to society, but because Baltimore County police decided to conduct a 4:30am, no-knock raid after finding seeds of marijuana in the family trash.

I can never get my head around this stuff. Cops are killed by citizens who didn't realize that it was the cops who were busting down their door. Innocent people are killed when the cops raid the wrong house. The cops raid the correct house and innocent people are killed. The cops raid the right house and shootouts ensue with previously non-violent recreational drug users. Yet every time there's another story people come out of the woodwork to defend this shit. It's not about bad cops because sometimes these cops are good guys, sometimes they're bad guys- what's always bad is the tactics, forced entry, often times middle of the night raids, where people look to defend themselves. I don't get it, but hat I really don't get is why more people don't care.


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