Business as usual (redux).

August 20th, 2008 11:59 pm by Kelly Garbato

I’ve been sitting on this story for a few weeks now, trying to find the words to convey how furious, how disillusioned, how heartsick, these seemingly never-ending cases of police brutality (against non-human animals, against activists, against women, against people of color, against gays and lesbians, against transgendered persons, against bicyclists, fer chrissakes!) make me, but to no avail.

There just aren’t enough words in the English language to explain how cruel and unnecessary are incidents such as these:

Mayor Cheye Calvo got home from work, saw a package addressed to his wife on the front porch and brought it inside, putting it on a table. Suddenly, police with guns drawn kicked in the door and stormed in, shooting to death the couple’s two dogs and seizing the unopened package.

In it were 32 pounds of marijuana. But the drugs evidently didn’t belong to the couple.

Police say the couple appeared to be innocent victims of a scheme by two men to smuggle millions of dollars worth of marijuana by having it delivered to about a half-dozen unsuspecting recipients. […]

A furious Calvo said Thursday that he and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, are asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the July 29 raid.

“Trinity was an innocent victim and random victim,” Calvo said outside his two-story, red-brick house in this middle-class Washington suburb of about 3,000 people. “We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us.”

Calvo insisted the couple’s two black Labradors were gentle creatures and said police apparently killed them “for sport,” gunning down one of them as it was running away.

“Our dogs were our children,” said the 37-year-old Calvo. “They were the reason we bought this house because it had a big yard for them to run in.”

The mayor, who was changing his clothes when police burst in, also complained that he was handcuffed in his boxer shorts for about two hours along with his mother-in-law, and said the officers didn’t believe him when he told them he was the mayor. No charges were brought against Calvo or his wife, who came home in the middle of the raid.

The Washington Post describes the dogs’ murder in greater detail:

“My government blew through my doors and killed my dogs,” Calvo said. “They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don’t think they really ever considered that we weren’t.”

Calvo described a chaotic scene, in which he — wearing only underwear and socks — and his mother-in-law were handcuffed and interrogated for hours. They were surrounded by the dogs’ carcasses and pools of the dogs’ blood, Calvo said. […]

Moments later, just after he had undressed, Calvo said, he heard his mother-in-law scream that someone was coming toward the house. He looked out his bedroom window and saw officers in SWAT gear running across the lawn.

“I heard a loud crash and then ‘bang, bang, bang,’ ” he said, recalling the sounds of the police shooting the dogs. “I hit the floor.”

As the police came in, Calvo said, they shot his 7-year-old black Labrador retriever, Payton, near the front door and then his 4-year-old dog, Chase, also a black Lab, as the dog ran into a back room. Walking through his house yesterday, Calvo pointed out a bullet hole in the drywall where the younger dog had been shot.

“I understand they have a job to do, but it didn’t have to go like that,” Calvo said. He said the police could have knocked on his door and asked him about the package. […]

Berwyn Heights Police Chief Patrick Murphy said county police and the Sheriff’s Office had not notified his department of the raid. He said town police could have conducted the search without a SWAT team.

“You can’t tell me the chief of police of a municipality wouldn’t have been able to knock on the door of the mayor of that municipality, gain his confidence and enter the residence,” Murphy said. “It would not have been a necessity to shoot and kill this man’s dogs.”

As was the case with dear Jax and Scarlet, one of the dogs was shot as he ran away from the police officers. No warnings or deterrents were employed before the officers murdered two dogs in cold blood. All this despite the premeditated nature of the raid; given that the target was a public official, officers should have known that dogs would be present in the residence beforehand, and planned accordingly.

And, while I don’t think that public officials should be treated better than us lowly citizens, the simple fact is that they usually are. Thus, if something like this can happen to the mofo mayor, imagine how the cops might treat your dogs, or mine (or you and I, for that matter).

Rest in peace, Payton and Chase. It’s times like these, I wish I believed in an afterlife, or karma, or somesuch form of divine retribution.

His wife spoke through tears as she described an encounter with a girl who used to see the couple walking their dogs.

“She gave me a big hug and she said, `If the police shot your dogs dead and did this to you, how can I trust them?'” Tomsic said.

Blub.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 9:22 AM
Subject: ACT/ Mayor’s Dogs Gunned Down In Police Raid

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY – PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST AS WRITTEN

8/8/08: Mayor’s Dogs Gunned Down In Police Raid

FOR A FORMATTED VERSION OF THIS LETTER (WORD DOC): kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Easily modify letter. Copy/paste it into an email or print letter to fax or mail.

Kinship Circle - 2008-08-08 - Mayor's Dogs Gunned Down In Police Raid 01

LEFT: Berwyn Heights, Md., Mayor Cheye Calvo and wife Trinity Tomsic speak at a news conference 8/7/08. Calvo is asking for the U.S. Justice Dept. to investigate a county police raid on his home in which his dogs were killed. (Source.)

Kinship Circle - 2008-08-08 - Mayor's Dogs Gunned Down In Police Raid 02

RIGHT: The mayor’s two family dogs, Payton and Chase, seen in photo. (Source.)

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FULL CONTACT INFORMATION. Sample letter follows.

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PLEASE NOTE: If more influential contacts become available, Kinship Circle may post an addition to this 8/8/08 alert.

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY POLICE
Melvin C. High, Chief of Police
Prince George’s County Police Department
7600 Barlowe Road; Landover, Maryland 20785
ph: 301-772-4740 * fax: 301-772-4788
email: Police_CustomerService [at] co.pg.md.us

PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Michael Jackson, Sheriff
Office of the Sheriff for Prince George’s County, MD
P.O. Box 548; Upper Marlboro, MD 20773-0548
fax: 301-883-6962 * email: sheriffinfo [at] co.pg.md.us
main ph: 301-883-7000 (ask to speak to Sheriff Michael Jackson)
Lt. Ridgeley, Public Information (PIO) Office: 240-508-7710
Cpl. Mario Ellis, Public Information/Community Affairs Office:
ph: 240 508-7638 * fax: 301-883-7984

STATE’S ATTORNEY FOR PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY
Glenn Ivery, State’s Attorney of Prince George’s County
State’s Attorney, Courthouse
14735 Main Street; Upper Marlboro, MD 20772-3050
ph: 301-952-3500 * fax: 301-952-3775

COPY YOUR COMMENTS TO (CC):
(Attorney for Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic)
Timothy F. Maloney
Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A.
6404 Ivy Lane, Suite 400; Greenbelt, Maryland 20770
fax: 240-553-1748 * email: TMaloney [at] jgllaw.com

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SAMPLE LETTER — This letter is prepared to inform you about the issue.
Try to shorten and personalize your letter before sending.

===================

County Police Department, Office of the Sheriff, and State’s Attorney of Prince George’s County:

I am shocked by July 29, 2008 shooting death of two family dogs in the home of Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo. I understand officers from Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office, along with County Police in the Narcotics Enforcement Division, raided the mayor’s home and slaughtered two non-aggressive Labrador retrievers at point blank range.

I trust that an unbiased internal investigation is underway and urge swift punitive action for these officers, including suspension from the force.

As you know, the mayor and his wife have since been exonerated in the case of a suspect marijuana package involving drug traffickers and intended for someone else. But the deliberate killing of Payton, 7, and Chase, 4, can never be recanted. One deputy fired at Chase’s back as the frightened dog fled to the back of the house. Another gunned down Payton as soon as the dog was spotted. Police interrogated the mayor and his mother-in-law at gunpoint, amid the dogs’ bloody remains.

These dogs did not pose a threat to an armed SWAT team. But even if they had, why were no warning shots, chemical sprays, batons, or other deterrents tried first? Please equip law enforcers with the knowledge to neutralize animals perceived as aggressive — without resorting to lethal force. I encourage both the county police and sheriff’s office to learn skills to distinguish anxiety, fear, and protective canine behaviors (i.e., barking, growling) from genuinely hostile behavior.

I fully support Mayor Calvo’s call for intervention from the U.S. Justice Department. If an impartial investigation warrants animal cruelty charges, officers should be arrested and prosecuted. At the very least, the unprovoked killing of family dogs denotes police misconduct.

Armed law officers displayed an utter lack of judgment in a volatile situation. Their response was inappropriate and demands your utmost attention. Please inform me of any progress in this very disturbing case.

Thank you,

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KINSHIP CIRCLE OFF-LINE FROM 8/12 – 8/19

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KINSHIP CIRCLE WILL BE OFF-LINE: AUGUST 12 to 19, 2008

Brenda Shoss will present and exhibit (with help from Kinship Circle volunteers) at the National AR2008 Conference in Washington, DC.

We hope to meet you at our booth or presentations!

8/17/08, 10:00 AM: Writing Our Message
(letters, articles, fact sheets, brochures, newsletters, advertising copy)

8/17/08, 2:30 PM: Advertising Our Message
(newspapers, public transport, billboards, radio/TV, internet)

8/17/08, 3:30 PM: Publishing on the Internet
(websites, e-newsletters, blogging, streaming, RSS feeds, MySpace, YouTube)

8/17/2008, 4:30 PM: Research/Info Programs
(Animals Voice, DawnWatch, Kinship Circle)

AR2008, AUGUST 14-18, is held at Hilton Mark Center
5000 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA 22311; 703-845-1010
http://www.arconference.org/
REGISTRATION: http://www.arconference.org/registration.htm

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SOURCE OF INFORMATION / REFERENCE LINKS

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Eric Rice / Eric’s Dog Blog, ericrice3 [at] comcast.net
http://ericsdogblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/sherrifs-murder-2-dogs.html

Statement From Attorney For Mayor Cheye Calvo And Wife Trinity Tomsic
http://static.wjla.com/documents/calvocounselstatement080608.pdf

Police Raid Berwyn Heights Mayor’s Home, Kill His 2 Dogs
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/30/AR2008073003299.html

Police raid Md. mayor’s home and kill his dogs
http://www.examiner.com/a-1526728~Police_raid_Md__mayor_s_home_and_kill_his_dogs.html

Police: Two Arrested in Marijuana Shipping Plot; Raid on Mayor’s Home Defended
http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0808/541609.html

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