Yesterday, the Washington Post Magazine ran a terrific cover story about the violent drug raid on the home of Cheye Calvo. Here’s an excerpt:
Cheye and Trinity flipped channels waiting for the 5 o’clock news, certain that – finally – they would be officially cleared. It was Wednesday, Aug. 7, more than a week after the raid. Then-Prince George’s Police Chief Melvin C. High and Sheriff Michael Jackson held a joint news conference to announce the arrests of a FedEx deliveryman and a second man alleged to be involved in a scheme to smuggle marijuana by shipping packages addressed to unsuspecting recipients, including the one to Trinity. Police refused to release their names.
Yet neither High nor Jackson apologized to Cheye, Trinity and Georgia or declared their absolute innocence.
The mayor of Berwyn Heights and his family “most likely, they were innocent victims” of the drug traffickers’ scheme, High said. “But we don’t want to draw that definite conclusion at the moment.”
High and Jackson defended the raid on the mayor of Berwyn Heights as reasonable and restrained, given the information they had at the time. “In some quarters, this has been viewed as a flawed police operation and an attack on the mayor, which it is not,” High said. “This was about an address; this was about a name on a package … and, in fact, our people did not know that this was the home of the mayor and his family until after the fact.”
The chief and sheriff admitted to what Cheye had already deduced: They did not specifically seek a no-knock warrant before breaking down the mayor’s door. Jackson said his deputies were justified in entering the house so forcefully because Georgia screamed when she saw them outside the house, and her cries could have alerted any armed occupants of the home to attack police or destroy evidence.
Deputies were justified in killing Payton and Chase because the dogs had “engaged” them, Jackson said, although he acknowledged under questioning that neither dog had bitten anyone.
Watching accounts of the news conference on television, Cheye grew livid. Not only had the brass refused to apologize or clear them, they were now blaming poor Georgia’s terrified scream for the botched raid. They were saying dogs barking at masked men justified slaughter.
Mayor Calvo recounted his ordeal at a Cato forum last summer.