No Knock Warrants….

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As some follow up to last show here is some more information on No Knock Warrants:

No-knock warrant

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In the US, a no knock warrant is a warrant issued by a judge that allows law enforcement officers to enter a property without immediate prior notification of the residents, such as by knocking or ringing a doorbell. In most cases, law enforcement will identify themselves just before they forcefully enter the property. It is issued under the belief that any evidence they hope to find can be destroyed during the time that police identify themselves and the time they secure the area, or in the event where there is a large perceived threat to officer safety during the execution of the warrant.

The Department of Justice writes:

Federal judges and magistrates may lawfully and constitutionally issue "no-knock" warrants where circumstances justify a no-knock entry, and federal law enforcement officers may lawfully apply for such warrants under such circumstances. Although officers need not take affirmative steps to make an independent re-verification of the circumstances already recognized by a magistrate in issuing a no-knock warrant, such a warrant does not entitle officers to disregard reliable information clearly negating the existence of exigent circumstances when they actually receive such information before execution of the warrant.

The number of no-knock raids has increased from 3,000 in 1981 to more than 50,000 in 2005, according to Peter Kraska, a criminologist at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky [1]. Raids that lead to deaths of innocent people are increasingly common; since the early 1980s, 40 bystanders have been killed, according to the Cato Institute in Washington, DC.[1]

Controversy

No knock warrants have been controversial for various reasons. Some consider them to be unconstitutional. In addition, there have been cases where burglars have robbed homes by pretending to be officers with a no knock warrant. In many cases, armed homeowners, believing that they are being invaded, have shot at officers, resulting in deaths on both sides.

And one of the possible consequences:

Murder Charges for Man Who Defended His Home

By: Gerri L. Elder

Ryan Frederick is currently behind bars in Chesapeake City Jail in Virginia for the shooting death of a police officer on January 17, 2008. He is charged with first-degree murder.

Normally you’d think that a person who shoots and kills a police officer might deserve to spend time behind bars, but Frederick’s case is a bit different. The shooting happened in his own home during what Frederick believed to be a home invasion. Three days before police began breaking down Frederick’s door to enter his home on a drug warrant, Frederick’s home had been broken into and his belongings rifled through, according to an online Reason Magazine story. When Frederick’s dogs began barking and he heard someone breaking through his front door, he grabbed a gun that he kept for home protection. As an officer attempted to enter the home through one of the lower door panels, Frederick fatally shot him.

Frederick is 28 years old. He worked for a soft drink merchandiser before his arrest. Friends, neighbors and co-workers reportedly have nothing but kind words to say about him. He has no prior criminal record, although he has conceded that he and his friends have smoked marijuana recreationally. There is no evidence that he was ever growing or dealing marijuana or any other drug, according to Frederick’s criminal defense attorney.

Despite the lack of any criminal record and the fact that the shooting was a tragic accident, Paul Ebert, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, has indicated he may elevate the charge to capital murder so that the state may seek the death penalty against Frederick.

The drug warrant that brought the police to Frederick’s home was based on faulty information received from a confidential informant. The informant told police that Frederick was growing marijuana in his garage and that several marijuana plants, growing lights, irrigation equipment and other gardening supplies had been seen on his property. Frederick has been an avid gardener, so it is true that he had gardening supplies on his property. However, no evidence was ever collected to indicate that he was growing marijuana. The only marijuana found at Frederick’s home was a small useable amount that under any other circumstances may have resulted in a charge of misdemeanor drug possession.

One of the plants that Frederick owned was a Japanese maple tree. When the leaves of this tree are green, they may resemble marijuana leaves. This may have been something that confused the police informant. The Chesapeake Police Department apparently did not investigate the claims of their informant before obtaining the no-knock warrant to search Frederick’s home for drugs.

After the fact, the pieces seem to fall together. The police informant said that he had been inside Frederick’s home three days prior to the execution of the drug warrant. That seems to give every indication that the police informant is the person who broke into Frederick’s home. This person was likely arrested for some other crime and decided to strike a deal by supplying the police with faulty information.

As a result of this nightmarish situation, Ryan Frederick sits in jail while the prosecution attempts to find a way to elevate the charges against him.

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