In Mistaken Pot Raid, SWAT Team Members Shoot Mayor’s Two Dogs, Bust Into Home, and Handcuff Mayor and his Mother-in-Law

The Prince George’s Sheriff was investigating the delivery of marijuana on July 31, 2008. A pot package would normally not be viewed as the equivalent to the Lindburgh kidnapping, but you would not know it from the reaction of the Prince George’s sheriff’s office. They sent in a SWAT team to the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo. The team proceeded to shoot the two black labradors at the home, bust through the door, and handcuff the the mayor (who was in his underwear) and his mother-in-law. They were questioned for hours while their dogs laid nearby in pools of blood. It turned out to be a mistake — the smugglers were probably just using their address to pick up the package off the porch — a common practice.

The package was addressed to Calvo’s wife, Trinity Tomsi. What is particularly strange about the over-the-top response is that it is common to use other people’s addresses and names for such shipments. Indeed, in February, a package from Arizona (as in this case) was sent to a 76-year-old Dunn Loring resident filled with pot.

Given this common practice, shooting pets and busting through doors seems rather extreme. A police spokesman explained that deputies “apparently felt threatened” and thus decided to kill the pets. The first to die was 7-year-old Payton. The second dog, 4-year-old Chase, was so scared that it ran away and had to be shot from behind. In the meantime, the police kept the mayor handcuffed in his underwear with his mother-in-law near the dead dogs in pools of blood.

Berwyn Heights Police Chief Patrick Murphy (who was not informed of the raid) is irate and says that it is ridiculous to suggest that they could not have simply knocked on the door of the mayor and entered the dwelling before shooting animals and handcuffing occupants.

Of course, at least unlike a mistaken recent raid in Minneapolis there is no plan for ciiations for bravery.

For the full story, click here and here.

14 thoughts on “In Mistaken Pot Raid, SWAT Team Members Shoot Mayor’s Two Dogs, Bust Into Home, and Handcuff Mayor and his Mother-in-Law

  1. Here is an email I sent to the Sheriff

    Dear Sheriff,

    Without a doubt, you are the biggest bunch of assholes that I have ever heard of.

    Break into the Mayor’s home……tie up his mother in law and kill his two dogs.

    God help you if you ever touched one of my pets.

    You all belong in a cage at the humane society.

    Tom D

    PS: Are you one of those southern hicks that belong to the KKK? This is the way a guy named Adolph started the Gestapo organization.

  2. Oh I also wanted to send my sympathy to the mayor and his family on their loss, with the new animal cruelty laws why don’t they charge the police with that, since they hunted down one of the family dogs and murdered it. My sister grew up with Trinity, she is from my home town and comes from a very nice family and I am sorry they had to be the target of police harassment. They are in a position to take a stand. I just hope they use this to help those who don’t have any money or any way to fight off the illegal things that happen to innocent people.

  3. I have been in this situation and spent 3 days in jail for made up charges. He’s really lucky this didn’t happen to him. But they raided my home without a warrant in the middle of the night and arrested me for resisting arrest when I asked to see their warrant. Then when we arrived at the jail they said this is a misdemeanor and we can’t hold her, so the police officier said make it a felony! So I was booked into jail on made up charges. Which were never filed by the Attorneys office and I was then released after 72 hours. By the way they brought in drug dogs and of course found nothing! Then they left all my minor teenage children at home alone without a supervised adult they were really freaking out when I called from the jail, but luckily they released my fiance on R&O and he went home to watch the kids for 3 days who were very traumatized. We still talk about it alot, the funny thing about my situation is it didn’t just involve one city, it involved several cities and the sheriffs office. You would have thought my home belonged to scar face with all the police that were there. But because I wasn’t a mayor or something of importance no news or media picked up my story. Police harassment goes on all the time. I used to take in street kids that were in gangs and help them change their lives, but instead of the police looking on that as positive they tried to sabotage what I was doing. I kept doing it for a while but then I had to leave it. I would like to say that I saved several of those kids and it was all worth it!

  4. dferguson,
    Thank you for putting a more human face to this story. It is an outrage. The rights of citizens in our society are being trampled every day and police state tactics are being used. My guess is the only need for the violence of this action was the guilty pleasure of the SWAT Team in performing their duties. I’ve known and worked with police and they are generally good people, however, over zealous training that does not include respecting the rights of citizens leads to these abuses.

  5. I know this couple personally. He wouldn’t sell you or your children cigarettes, he arbores the misery that addictions bring. Mr. Calvo and his family are totally innocent of this insanity. For all you people out there that think he is a “privileged” man, you don’t have a clue of how he has worked his way to accomplish what he has. He wasn’t born into a privileged family. He worked during his college years, received scholarships and maintained grades to graduate. Oh, by the way he was held up by gunpoint while delivering pizzas during his college years and guess where: PG County. He has recently left a better paying job to work with the SEEDS Foundation in the Washington, DC area to help urban kids achieve in school. He works his regular job and then pretty much gives his time being Mayor of Berwyn Heights. He truly wants to make his community and it’s surrounding areas a better place to live in.
    The Prince George’s SWAT team had no right to invade his home in that manner. Have you read the article of the purpose of the SWAT team? Quote from article: But while the fact that this was the mayor’s house makes the action even more deranged, it would be a mistake to regard that as the reason not to use a SWAT team. The truth is that entering a home in that fashion is unnecessary, and therefore wrongful, almost all of the time. SWAT teams are meant for emergency or other high-intensity situations — hostage situations and the like — not routine drug enforcement. But even if there had been 200 pounds of marijuana, or 2,000 pounds, there would still be no excuse. Invading a home in this manner endangers people and animals and property, for no good reason, if there is any other way of dealing with the situation.
    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/545/another_day_in_the_drug_war?print
    Posted by lois at August 2, 2008 05:21
    For those big partiers that think this is a humorous incident and wish someone would send you 32 lbs of marijuana in the mail, you probably still live at home mooching of your parents. There’s no humor in losing your rights. There was no reason to proceed in this manner without a thorough investigation. He never saw a warrant, the contents of the package nor the opportunity to turn it in. This incident makes us all venerable by receiving a package in the mail.
    I’m hoping after all this injustice, he will not become embitter and give up hope for his community and country. If so, you have lost a decent man and his family in your neighborhood. Finally, for those of you at your computers writing negative judgments on people you don’t know, you’d better hope we don’t see you in the news and start making unfounded judgments on you.

  6. Those policemen are scum.

    While we descend ever deeper into a psychotic police state Nancy Pelosi’s new fluff book is out and she is saving us from global warming. Those things are much more important than that musty old bill of rights.

    P.S. It would be nice to have an opposition party again.

  7. I think Marie may have a point that this was some kind of set up. Nevertheless, at root is the neverending, senseless War on Drugs. It destroys civil liberties, costs billions, primarily affects people of color through imprisonment and/or criminal records, and finally has no chance of accomplishing its murky objectives. It is astounding that with the abject failure of Prohibition as example, we’re back doing the same thing. My conclusion is that it exists not to eradicate drugs, but keep the price up. If I was a drug dealer I’d be contributing to the campaigns of the demagogues who keep supporting this phony war.

  8. OK, Let me get this straight. These cops dress up as deliverymen, leave a box containing marijuana at the mayor’s house, then storm the place (after all, drugs are now at that address), shoot the family dogs (including one who was running away – hardly a threat), and generally terrorize the mayor and his mother-in-law. Why does this smell like a set-up? Has this man done anything, in his mayoral capacity or otherwise, to annoy the local sheriff’s office?

  9. No battering rams?

    No flash-bang grenades?

    No use of pain compliance electronics on the suspects?

    What restraint.

  10. But don’t you realize that this is the great and noble War On Drugs? The devil-weed marijuana is involved here! So what’s a traumatized family and a couple of executed dogs matter when you realize how much safer is Prince George’s County now that there will be fewer potheads sitting around giggling and getting the munchies?

  11. Sadly, the only reason this was “news” was due to the fact that it didn’t happen (yet again) to some poor and/or minority family. It was a “white” Mayor. This time, the cops are going to see some justice.

  12. This is insanity.

    Furthermore, the behavior of the Sheriff’s Department in this circumstance, empowers any anonymous person to put at high risk of death or injury, the recipient of any package they wish to send to any targeted individual.

    There should be a high level of interest by the public, of the Sheriff’s explanation as to why they did not simply knock on the door, as suggested by the Berwyn Heights Police Chief.

    Whomever conceived of this raid, and those that approved it, should be held accountable, should their justification prove unreasonable, bad judgement, or outside of standard practice.

  13. I wonder if these cops are also going to get awards or promotions, maybe not as this was a Mayor and he was Caucasian. It’ll be interesting to see if he even has to sue to get a settlement.

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