Maryland Mayor Asking For Federal Civil Rights Probe Into No Knock Warrants
Linda Young - AHN Editor
Berwyn Heights, MD (AHN) - With his wife crying at his side on the lawn of their home, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, MD announced he was asking for a civil rights investigation into no knock warrants after his wife became the innocent victim of identity theft and police invaded their home on an illegal no knock warrant and killed the family dogs.
"We lost our family dogs," Calvo said, adding the police burst into his home "guns blazing."
Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, held a televised press conference Thursday afternoon.
Saying that two arrests had been made and other drugs seized, Calvo said, "It is a great relief to us to be removed from the glare of suspicion." However, that didn't change what had happened, when police illegally broke down their door and executed the family pets, Calvo said. "We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us."
Calvo and his mother-in-law were tied up by members of a county sheriff's SWAT team last week when the team illegally entered the mayor's home by breaking down his door and entering without knocking, despite the fact that they didn't have a no knock warrant.
The chain of events leading up to the incident began when Tomsic became one of several victims of identity theft in Prince George's County. The SWAT team also shot and killed the family's two Labrador retrievers immediately when they entered the home, despite the fact that the first dog was in another room and they had to chase the other terrified, fleeing dog through the house to shoot him in the back and kill it.
Calvo said he returned home from a walk with his dogs to find a package on his doorstep addressed to his wife. So he carried it inside, set it down and went upstairs to shower and change his clothes before heading out the door to a meeting.
While the mayor was upstairs doing that, he said his mother-in-law was cooking supper, saw the SWAT team running into the yard and screamed. The officers heard her scream and responded by breaking the door down, swarming into the home, shooting and killing the families' dogs and then tying his mother-in-law up on the floor. Officers also tied him up on the floor in his boxer shorts for two hours, Calvo said.
It turned out that the mayor's wife was a victim of identity theft. Someone had addressed a package of marijuana to her, which officials intercepted. Then an undercover officer delivered it to the couple's doorstep while Calvo was walking the dogs.
During the investigation that occured after the incident, officials concluded that someone else that was involved with the drug package had intended to intercept it before it was delivered to the mayor's house, but the police intercepted the drug package first. The police investigation also found another five people in the county were also similar victims of identity theft.
At least two people have been arrested so far, and other packages of drugs seized.
Saying that despite being victims of identity theft they weren't being treated like victims, Calvo called problems in police and sheriff departments "systemic" and said conditions must be changed. He announced that he is asking the U.S. Justice Department to conduct a civil rights investigation of Prince Georges County, because it had also happened to others
He also said that drug enforcement officials had denied the existence of no-knock warrants or that they ever used them.
Calvo said he was asking the sheriff to retract untrue statements that he earlier made about the family and their pets. He said that the family pets didn't deserve to die and that the sheriff had wrongfully blamed the animals for their own deaths.
The mayor told reporters later that the sheriff's department didn't know he was the mayor of his town, that they also didn't have his name, which was different from his wife's name, and had not coordinated their operation with the local police department.
Calvo also said that the county sheriff's department has since said that it was investigating reports that delivery men were being paid to intercept drug packages addressed to innocent third parties, but had not informed the municipal police department of this. It has since found the real culprit.