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PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY

Sheriff's Office Finds No Wrongdoing in SWAT Raid That Killed Dogs

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By Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Prince George's County sheriff's office has concluded that deputies did nothing wrong when they charged into the home of the mayor of Berwyn Heights during a drug investigation last summer and fatally shot his family's two dogs.

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The findings of the internal review "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 news conference.

The announcement drew immediate condemnation from Mayor Cheye Calvo.

"It's outrageous," he said. "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."

Members of the SWAT team killed Calvo's black Labrador retrievers after deputies broke down his door and raided his home in search of a drug-filled package that had been addressed to Calvo's wife.

Law enforcement officials have since acknowledged that Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, were victims of a smuggling scheme that used a FedEx driver to ship drugs. They said the couple knew nothing about the box. County police, who were leading the drug investigation, have said they were unaware it was the mayor's house.

In an interview, Jackson reiterated his explanation that a scream by Calvo's mother-in-law, Georgia Porter, who saw officers in SWAT gear running toward the house, justified the shooting.

Porter "corroborated that she did scream out 'SWAT.' She admitted to that, and [Calvo] admitted to hearing that upstairs in the house," Jackson said. "That threw out the procedure of knocking and announcing, because now [officers were] compromised."

One dog was shot four times by the front door. Calvo has said his younger dog was running away from officers when it was shot twice, including once in a hind leg. Jackson said deputies thought the dog was running toward another deputy in the home.

The botched raid led to a new state law that subjects SWAT teams in Maryland to increased scrutiny. Calvo has scheduled a news conference for Monday to announce "further actions."

"I'm sorry for the loss of their family pets," Jackson said. "But this is the unfortunate result of the scourge of drugs in our community. Lost in this whole incident was the criminal element. . . . In the sense that we kept these drugs from reaching our streets, this operation was a success."


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