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A Cop is Dead Because An Informant Mistook Japanese Maple Trees For Marijuana

This is one of those stories that is simultaneously so unbelievable and yet nauseatingly familiar that you just know our deeply flawed drug laws are behind it.

Ryan Frederick is an amateur gardener who grows tomatoes and Japanese maple trees, which look like marijuana. An informant told police there was pot growing at the residence and a warrant was issued. Frederick, who had been burglarized earlier in the week, mistook the police for thieves and sought to defend his home by firing on the unexpected intruders. Police officer Jarrod Shivers was killed.

Now, as we learned in the strikingly similar case of Cory Maye, law-enforcement does not take kindly to people defending their homes during mistaken drug raids. Ryan Frederick has been charged with first-degree murder on the theory that he knew the intruders were police and fired on them anyway.

Frederick had no criminal record and no marijuana plants. The informant was just wrong. Although a few joints were found in the home, it just doesn’t make much sense to contend that Frederick would provoke a shoot-out with police over a misdemeanor. Nonetheless, he's being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and can only hope the jury understands the horrible situation he's been placed in.

This is still a developing story, but at this point it seems pretty clear that the only reason this raid ever happened is that some idiot mistook Japanese Maple trees for marijuana. That's all it took. There are no safeguards built into the drug war to prevent this type of thing. If you call in a suspected marijuana grow, you are assumed to be a botanist capable of accurately identifying plants. Police will even risk their lives to investigate your idiotic claims.

Prosecuting Ryan Frederick for murder will do nothing to curb the inevitable result of continuing to raid homes based on informant testimony. This is all just one more injustice stacked atop a precarious edifice. Like Cory Maye, Ryan Frederick is lucky to even be alive, which begs the question of how many dead innocent people would have been unfairly charged with attempted cop-murder if they'd been fortunate enough to even survive the raid.

Much more at The Agitator and DrugWarRant.
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the comments

on the link are pretty depressing...


Is there anything we can do to help Ryan out? I'm not sure how to go about doing anything, but I imagine there has to be a way for us to help.

- Michael Blunk

Ryans Defense Fund Page

Is the page that is currently being setup for his defense fund and to get the word out about this case. You can also leave your comments and thoughts on there as well.

Thanks for you support


Isn't it amazing, a tip from a confidential informant is all it takes to get a warrant, any time, any where. I really don't think it matters what they know or what they saw, as long as the cops get a tip for a raid. Judges seem only too happy to issue a warrant; maybe they don't have time to read them, or think it's best to keep the boys in blue happy. I would think a judge might just be in a good position to see a pattern developing, no matter if it's the law.

Every Congressman and

Every Congressman and Senator who ever voted to continue the prohibition now live with this officer's blood on their hands. While they slept comfortably in their beds Detective Shivers died enforcing their prohibition.

How enormous must the prohibition's benefits be to society for it to be worth such a terrible cost! Our communities, our neighborhoods, our own lives must somehow be greatly enhanced by denying society the legal production, sale and possession of marijuana. Lives must surely be saved, crime reduced, and families strengthened, for the benefits of the prohibition to outweigh the costs.

Horrifically, we realize that marijuana has never caused a fatality, and that crime is not reduced by handing marijuana production and supply over to criminals, and that families are not strengthened by alienating marijuana users. Horrifically we realize that the deaths and the arrests and the damage done to careers and the denial of education is all for nothing, nobody in society--not the recreational marijuana users, not the medical marijuana users, not the nonusers, nobody in society benefits from the prohibition. Detective Shivers died for nothing.



Same sh*t different ?

If the moronic police didn't just bust in and knocked on the door. I like how they didn't need a warrant. Good government.

did you actually read this?

It says that they had a warrant issued before they busted into the man's house.....
Anyways, nonetheless, the accused that is on trial had every right to defend his home. I can't believe that just because a cop was killed that they are trying to prosecute this man to the fullest extent. If the law system would try to look into something before getting a warrant and busting down someone's door this officer would still be alive. How do they know that the "informant" didn't intentionally call in and say that they were pot plants, while all the time knowing that they weren't? Some people are just stupid enough to get kicks out of stuff like that.
The law system will always defend their own before they stand up for the public that they are supposed to be here to "serve and protect".

alcohol kills, cannabis prohibition kills

still waiting for alcohol supremacists to explain why they can use killer alcohol but other good folks are 'criminals' for preferring cannabis. Been waiting for a very long time. If you all can't offer a reasonable defense of alcohol supremacism, then it's nothing more than a bigotry that's got to go. So speak up already, alcohol supremacists. It's dishonorable to treat people as criminals and then stonewall about explaining why.

previous burglary had him primed to fire

why was there a previous burglary? 2 probable prohibition related reasons: crime committed to get prohibition priced drug money, very common and leading to many murders each year in robberies gone bad. and cops too busy worrying about weed to pay proper attention to real crime. not to mention society too much under the influence of alcohol culture to think honestly about alcohol vs. cannabis.

Crime Victims are Criminals too!!!!

The guy was probably burgled because the theives saw his Japanese Maple collection and thought it was drugs....

We, as good US Citizens, are responsible for ensuring that no one would ever mistake any of our actions or hobbies for anything that could ever be construed as illegal.

In this case, I think the only thing to do is quickly pass a law against growing Japanese Maples...

Another fundamental problem

that has bothered me for a lot of years is illustrated with this story. The police got a warrant not knowing what was in the house.

Police justify their need to use storm trooper raid tactics on the basis that there 'may' be weapons in the place but they frankly don't know so they need all of the armor. But these same cops swear to the court in advance that they know that there are drugs in the target.

In this case they didn't even know if there were drugs. But in most all cases they NEVER know if there are weapons in the place.

It seems to me that if you can investigate enough to know that there are drugs in the target place that you would take the time to find out if there are guns there, that can kill you when you storm in.

These cops did not know if there were drugs. They did not know if there were weapons. they blindly stormed the place and got their nuts shot off for their ignorance.

Matt_Potter's picture

Where is the informant?

Ok, I've read a few articles about this now and does it seem to anyone else that the informant used by the police in this case was a common burglar who got his information while trying to rob Frederick out? He said in an earlier article that the burglar was rummaging through his shed. This whole incident just reeks of police incompetency.

Matt Potter
North Carolina State University
Chair, Student Senate Campus Community Committee
President, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Why isn't the informant held responsible?

I'm not an attorney, but it seems to me that if a person (falsely) shouting "fire!" in a crowded theatre can be held responsible for the ensuing mayhem and destruction and possible loss of life, the same thing should apply to informants. I don't think anyone should be charged with a crime in this instance -- what happened was simply an unfortunate consequence of police action gone awry. But if anyone is culpable in this case, I think it would be the informant. Why isn't he/she being charged? Do informants receive some kind of immunity in exchange for their information? If so, shouldn't that immunity be predicated on the *truthfulness* of the information provided? It seems like a no-brainer to me...

Where's LEAP when you need them?

This shooting of a police officer during a pot raid is something that LEAP(Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) ought to concern itself with. One of the great things about LEAP is their creditability on the drug war. They can't be dismissed by the status quo as liberial druggies who just want to change the law so they can get high.

LEAP should hold a press conference to renounced this military use of police resources and other SWAT style raids for small time drug offenders. In this case there weren't even any drugs. This tragedy needs an organization like LEAP to step up and take charge.

LEAP can use all the media attention it can get. They need to spend less time talking to rotary clubs and more time countering the endless symbolic victories the government holds each time there's a drug bust. The media blindly reports in these drug busts without providing any context to what they mean to the community and overall effect on the black market of illicit drugs.


Thank you for making us aware of leap. I had know idea they existed and have now passed on ryans story to them.

Those Gun's

We have the right to keep and bear arm's, Those of us who choose to do so, are the one's who realize that the crooks will be there and gone long before the police arrive. The only thing a home owner can do these day's, is to pray to you know who, that he doesn't have to shoot the crazy son of gun, who is baggi'n down the door, who might be some cop that has yet again gone to the wrong address or is acting on the information of an informant.

don't blame the wreck on the train

Informants are, by definition, liars; they are also (generally) weak, vulnerable people who are taken advantage by the same cops who are all too eager to find an excuse to terrorize the public.

Officer Shivers is dead because he and his colleagues BROKE THE LAW.

The 4th?

Probable cause and reasonable search are defined by the 4th ammendment. Whatever happened to that pesky ammendment anyway? Seems like things always get worse just before they get better. And I agree,LEAP should be leaping all over this.

if we can't free cannabis or leash SWAT teams

maybe we should ban growing Japanese maples for everyone's protection. Wouldn't be any more stupid than banning hemp because it's related to cannabis, or banning medical marijuana because marijuana can also be used to get a nice peaceful buzz.


I will make a prediction... Ryan will take a plea to a lesser charge in about 9 months. Thats the way the "justice" system avoids more exposure and looking bad in public. Of course Ryan's life is messed up from now on...but thats "justice", USA style.

Malkavian's picture

I hope you're right

Because it didn't really go that well for Cory who got the death sentence for pretty much the same sequence of events.

And to those of you wondering if Japanese Maple trees will be prohibited. Well, I can't help but think that it's IN FACT a possibility if someone like Rudy Giuliani wins the presidential race. I assume you all know how be banned ferrets (of all things) in NY, and what he said to that one disgruntled caller on the radio show?

Good luck with the whole presidential think, anyway. Cheers from Denmark :o)

welcome to America

Another innocent man possibly on his way to prison, probably a productive part of society! Protecting what belongs to him. Law Enforcement too embarrassed to admit they were wrong. I wonder if the cops were under the influence when they invaded his house? I wonder if the informant was under the influence of some kind of drug not to be able to notice the difference and why didn't they go about this in a mannerly way? I don't think he would have ran to dig the tree up while the police were knocking on his door. And if they thought that to be the case, they should have covered all bases beforehand, including the Japanese Maple Trees!!! C'Mon people (Law Enforcement) especially. We have "Over Eager-Jump to Conclusion Cops" and "Know Nothing Informants" ruining the perfectly normal everyday lives of these NORMAL people and they call this "Justice"? As Sad as it is.......This man is most certainly and unfortunately "Guilty Until Proven Innocent"!!!

My Thoughts and Prayers are with Ryan~

An informant should have

An informant should have known that that was NO MARIJUANA PLANT! Similar in looks???..............possibly to some idiot but, to an informant................give me a break!!!!

Right to bare arms...

Ryan, probably had no idea it was the police. The raid was designed to be a Surprise, to catch Ryan growing those { illegal } japanese maple trees "red handed ". Let's flip the scenario and the officers shoot ryan, All of the Sudden you would just read how the officers were acting on a tip, and they were " Just doing thier Job". This story cries out for True Justice, for Ryan.... The fact that the story seems the need to throw in this fact " a couple of joints were found during the raid.. Honestly smells worse than an unwashed fish market... Let's try something new in this case like the "Truth". In this country we have the right to bare arms, and if we lived in texas, We even have the right to protect by Force our neighbors property....I am greatly saddened by the loss of an officer, but who and what put him in harms way? Our own justice system, in the form of a warrant.. This is just going to be another attempt by our political officals to bring up the issues of gun control, and why we should ban home owners from having gun..This is why we can't let the smoke
screen by police, accuse Ryan of any wrong doing. He defended himself by his Constitutional Rights Given to Him....

well this cop

was a crimnal breaking into peoples homes .he is just colleratal damage as i always hear them say .using informants with time hanging over thier heads makes this happen .so good by to bad trash

can you believe this?Just

can you believe this?Just plain stupid,If they just decriminalized Cannabis,chances are that this would never happen again.I also Agree that the Informant should be charged for being so stupid....

I'm starting to think houses

I'm starting to think houses need to be designed with things like sliding steel pocket doors, and narrow windows with shatterproof glass.  It would drastically reduce the number of botched no-knock raids if the results of kicking a door were a broken foot, and battering rams just bounce off.


Erecting a fence that has to be cut through to get into the yard without permission, with an audio/visual security camera system that comes on when the fence is breached is sounding less and less paranoid to me with each year.  Ryan and Cory would have much better days in court, if they could produce recordings of police only identifying themselves after the gunfire took place, or not identifying themselves at all.  Although I'd suggest multiply redundant recording devices, since video evidence that makes police look bad has this rather odd tendency to be "mistakenly" deleted while in police custody...and yet, the trial goes on without it.

Vote "YES"

The article above and the FACTS have proven that something needs to be done in the name of sanity. There are votes in many states in 2012 to legalize or make medicinal MJ possible. The country is watching. Do not blow this chance to right a wrong. In this country, an opportunity for fairness doesn't happen very often. Those of you in California, Oregon, Washington State, and elsewhere, get out there and make the FACTS known and vote “YES” this time. Folks, don’t forget the important points of this debate: 1. This issue is actually on the ballot. 2. There is now a debate. 3. Marijuana is being revealed as a harmless and usually beneficial substance. 4. Even the longest journey begins with the first step. 5. More often than not, law enforcement will have less reasons to search, seize property, and ruin the lives of productive citizens. 6. The word “Criminal” will no longer be applied to those who wish to smoke something other than tobacco. This exit poll and other data show why Prop 19 did not pass in Cal in 2010. 1. Sixty percent of Mexicans voted against it. Why? Could it be because most of their money comes from the illegal sale of cocaine and MJ? 2. The medicinal community was told that if Prop 19 passed that their rights would be voided. 3. The folks who grow legally in the three “Emerald Triangle” counties voted “NO” because legalization would reduce the price of MJ and take away their $80,000 a year incomes. Those people should have logically voted "YES" but instead voted “NO” out of greed. The officer’s death and the arrest of thousands of “Smokers” is because of their greed.

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