The Washington area distributor for Schlitz brewery products expressed disapproval yesterday over a weekend incident in which D.C. police officers, one wearing a bull costume, imitated a Schlitz commercial in carrying out a drug raid.
In addition, Police Chief Maurice Turner said that, while he endorsed the raid itself and the ingenuity shown by the officers involved, he had reservations about some statements made by the officers afterward.
The Saturday evening raid in far Southeast mimicked a well known television commercial in which a bull charges through walls or windows. The part of the bull was played by a D.C. policeman who wore a rented costume and came bellowing out of the back of a van to arrest a man suspected of being a major city heroin dealer.
"I had about 75 or 80 calls today," said Vernon Coleman, the distributor here of Schlitz Malt Liquor. "Most of them were not complimentary.
"It makes a mockery out of people drinking my product," Coleman added. "I'm not happy about it.
"I don't want anyone to think that we conspired in any way with the police in this drug arrest and I don't want to see my drivers hurt or harassed, and I don't want to see my brand hurt."
While one officer was costumed as a bull in Saturday's raid, others entered into the spirit of the occasion by sporting make-believe badges that they had fashioned from Schlitz Malt Liquor cans.
Sgt. John Kornutick, a 13-year police veteran was quoted in a news account as saying that he and several other officers thought of using a bull when they noticed that many suspected Southeast drug dealers "drink Schlitz Malt Liquor Ale -- the Bull -- before during and after making drug transactions on the streets in this area."
Police said the raid ended with eight arrests and the seizure of$20,000 in heroin, $6,800 in cash and a stolen pistol.
At the headquarters of the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Co. in Milwaukee, a company spokesman said he did not wish to criticize the raid, which he called creative and imaginative, but expressed regret at any association between drugs, the bull and Schlitz Malt Liquor.
"We get a lot of good publicity out of the bull," he said. "It's just too bad it had to be associated with a drug bust."
Calling the raid a "perfectly good drug bust," Chief Turner appeared undismayed by the use of the bull. "If it took that kind of ingenuity to get close enough to make a seizure, good," he said. He took issue, however, with statements attributed to police that the raid was designed to embarrass the principal suspect.
"We are out to arrest violators of the law," the chief said in an interview. "We don't make raids to embarrass people."
Police officials reportedly received numerous telephone calls about the raid. The nature and tenor of the calls could not be learned.
Officials at the 7th District declined yesterday to discuss the raid.