Maryland Mayor Sues Cops Over Botched Drug Raid

Mayor Cheye Calvo says SWAT practices must change

Sheriff Michael Jackson says officers did nothing wrong -- drugs, he said, are the real criminal here
Sheriff Michael Jackson says officers did nothing wrong -- drugs, he said, are the real criminal here (by Courtesy Prince George's Co. Sheriff's Office)

Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Mayor Cheye Calvo is suing the Prince George's Co. Sheriff's Office, hoping that the court will order the county to change the way it deploys its SWAT team -- an effort to ensure that no other families will have to endure what Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, did in August 2008, when officials killed the their two dogs during a botched drug raid at their home.

To recap: A drug dog in Arizona hit on pot inside a package at a post office there that was addressed to Tomsic. Police brought the package to Maryland and, dressed like mail carriers, P.G. County deputies delivered the package to Calvo and Tomsic's home, where it sat outside all day July 30, 2008. When Calvo got home he picked up the package, brought it inside, and headed upstairs. That's when the P.G. narcos and Sheriff's SWAT team swooped in and broke into the home. Once inside, they shot dead Calvo and Tomsic's dogs.

A week later the narcos admitted that the deadly raid was a mistake. Police said they'd arrested a delivery person in connection with a scheme to smuggle drugs by addressing drug-filled packages to uninvolved and unsuspecting people. The plan was to intercept the packages before they arrived at their addressed destinations -- a not-so-original plot that police could've, and should've, figured out before descending on the Calvo home.

Nonetheless, after reviewing their actions, the P.G. County S.O. last month said they did nothing wrong. The findings of an internal review of the deadly incident "are consistent with what I've felt all along: My deputies did their job to the fullest extent of their abilities," Sheriff Michael Jackson said at a June 19 press conference.

Maybe its time to find new deputies with greater "abilities."

Calvo was not impressed with Jackson's conclusion: "It's outrageous," he told the Washington Post. "Not only is he not admitting any wrongdoing, but he's saying this went down the way it was supposed to and he's actually commending his police officers for what they did."

Indeed, Jackson actually had the balls to say that while he was sorry for the loss of Calvo's pets, they were nothing more than collateral damage: "[T]his is the unfortunate result of the scourge of drugs in our community," he told the Post. Amazingly, he said the raid was a success because, regardless of the damage it caused, the drugs were kept from "reaching the streets."

Of course, as the Drug Reform Coordination Network points out, there was no need for the entire operation to get as far as it did: The drugs could've been kept off the street if narcos in Arizona had kept the drugs there -- or if Jackson's deputies hadn't dressed up like delivery people and left the drugs on Calvo's front steps.

Moreover, it would seem that if anyone had done a bit of investigation before moving the drugs to Maryland they would have discovered the drug delivery scheme before the drugs even left Arizona -- and long before any innocent bystanders were injured.

Welcome to your Drug War.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Cops, Crime, Cheye Calvo, Drug War, Marijuana, SWAT raid, Prince George's County, Michael Jackson

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