Killing of Mayor's 2 Dogs Justified, Pr. George's Finds
Friday, September 5, 2008
The Prince George's County Sheriff's Office has concluded in an internal review that its deputies were justified when they shot and killed two dogs belonging to the mayor of Berwyn Heights during a July drug raid, Sheriff Michael Jackson said yesterday.
The sheriff said that one dog was engaging an officer and that the other was running toward a second officer at the time the black Labs were shot, but the ruling did not satisfy the mayor, who said the inquiry was incomplete and misleading.
Jackson released the results of the review in response to a scientific examination of the dogs' carcasses by a veterinarian with the Maryland Department of Agriculture at the request of Mayor Cheye Calvo. The necropsy concluded one dog was shot four times and the other twice, including once in the dog's back legs.
Calvo said the necropsy has bolstered his contention that neither dog was threatening law enforcement officers during the raid and that one dog was shot from behind as he fled into a back room.
A sheriff's department SWAT team and county police narcotics officers burst into the mayor's home July 29 after police intercepted a 32-pound package of marijuana addressed to Trinity Tomsic, Calvo's wife.
Police cleared Calvo and Tomsic of wrongdoing, saying they were victims of a drug smuggling scheme in which drug-filled packages addressed to unsuspecting recipients were intercepted by a FedEx deliveryman.
Jackson said that the county attorney and the Sheriff's Office's internal affairs division are reviewing the department's internal findings in response to a formal complaint lodged by the couple and that he would provide further details when those reviews were completed.
But, he said, the investigation has concluded "the guys did what they were supposed to do."
"They had a legitimate court order to be there," he said. "Unfortunately, we had to engage the animals, but that engagement was justified."
Calvo rejected Jackson's conclusions yesterday, saying sheriff's deputies have not interviewed him or his mother-in-law about their accounts of the incident. Both were home at the time of the raid. Their arms were bound behind their backs, and they were questioned about the package while the body of one dog lay nearby.
"The fact that they've done an internal review without contacting the victims of their raid, the people whose house they stormed through, shows they're not very interested in the actual facts," he said.
The necropsy was performed by Kathryn Nepote, acting director of the state's College Park Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, and paid for by Calvo. An attorney for Calvo said the necropsy and cremation cost $360 for each dog.