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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Transcript of Mayor Calvo's Statement

(Posted 7 Aug 2008)

Transcript of Mayor Calvo's Statement


August 7, 2008

Thank you for coming today to our home. Trinity, her mom, Georgia, and I are very pleased that two arrests have been made and that a large quantity of drugs have been seized.

It is a great relief to us to be removed from the glare of suspicion. We knew we were not involved. Our friends, neighbors, and community knew we were not involved.

But people who didn't know us did not really know what to think. Apparently, based on yesterday's statement, the Prince George's County Police Chief still doesn't know what to think. But I think the rest of the world now knows what happened, and we are relieved that the truth has finally come out.

Trinity was an innocent and random victim of identity theft. Apparently, so were four or five other County residents whose names and addresses were stolen, and used as addressees on drug packages. However, Trinity and our family have not been treated as victims of a crime.

Instead, our home was invaded. Our two beloved Labrador retrievers are dead. My mother-in-law and I were tied up for nearly two hours. A shadow was cast over our good names. We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us.

But now that truth has come out, the leadership of our two county law enforcement agencies have made things worse. They have falsely blamed the dogs' death on the dogs. They have blamed their illegal no-knock entry on my mother-in-law for shouting when she saw a SWAT team in the yard. And, although the rest of the world now knows it, the Chief of Police can't quite bring himself to say the word "innocent" -

Although he certainly isn't casting suspicion on the other five County homeowners whose identities were stolen by the deliveryman.

Sheriff Jackson said yesterday that his deputies were "engaged" by our dogs. This is simply false. The deputies opened fire and executed our dogs the very second they broke down our front door. The thoughtless execution of Payton and Chase was premeditated, without provocation, and appears to have been done for sport.

The officers were aware of the presence of our dogs before they broke down our front door. They had seen Payton earlier when the undercover officer delivered the package to our house. They had seen me walk both dogs through the neighborhood moments before the invaded our home. In fact, I waved to them.

Payton was shot some distance from the front door. He was shot where his body was found, near the entrance to the kitchen. After Payton was shot, Chase reacted to the gunfire and ran away from the deputies. He was hunted down and shot in the back while he fled. His body was found in the rear of the house.

We loved our dogs. Our community loved our dogs. They were a part of our family. They didn't deserve to die.

They don't deserve to be blamed for their deaths.

I call upon Sheriff Jackson to retract his false statement that our dogs "engaged" his deputies, as well as any suggestion that his deputies were justified in shooting our dogs. I also call upon law enforcement to release the photographs they took of our dogs after they were shot.

These images are shocking. They will show you what they did to them, and where they were located when they were killed. These photographs will tell the truth, if law enforcement refuses to do so.

I also call upon Sheriff Jackson to retract his statement that the "no-knock" invasion of our home was justified because my mother-in-law screamed when she saw the SWAT team in our yard. Last week, the spokesperson for the County police said the officers were justified in breaking down our door because a no-knock warrant had been issued.

This, too, turned out to be false. No such warrant was ever sought or obtained. In fact, when law enforcement invaded our house, they knew nothing about us except that someone had addressed a package containing marijuana to Trinity.

Although more than a dozen officers were at our house all day, they did not spend five minutes investigating who we are and what our lives are about. If they had, they would have found that we are regular, law-abiding, community-minded people. We have spent our lives in community service and certainly are not a threat to the public safety.

What is now most disturbing is that the Police Chief and Sheriff have reached public conclusions about the propriety of what happened without conducting any investigation whatsoever, and without ever talking to us at all. They are defending the indefensible.

They are unable to apologize for themselves. They are unable to investigate themselves. And they are clearly unable to reform themselves to make sure that this does not happen to any other innocent family in this County.

In this regard, we are already receiving reports of similar misconduct, including service of warrants at the wrong address, excessive use of no-knock entries, and other unjustified killings of family pets.

This has happened before, and without oversight, it will happen again. Our community is losing confidence in law enforcement based on what they did, and how our leadership has responded to what they did.

For this reason, we have asked the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice to investigate not only what happened to us, but also the larger question of policies and practices of County law enforcement agencies in executing warrants.

We have witnessed a frightening law enforcement culture in which the law is disregarded, the rights of innocent occupants are ignored, and the rights of innocent animals mean nothing. We would never have believed it if we hadn't seen it for ourselves.

Major Magaw, who heads the County's Narcotics Enforcement Division, has denied the existence of no-knock search warrants. This is despite the passage of House Bill 577, which was a 2005 amendment to Maryland's search warrant statute, which specifically provides for such warrants upon a proper application to a judicial officer.

What other statutory protections and civil rights are believed not to exist in Prince George's County? Why are senior law enforcement officials unaware of basic principles of Maryland law.

We need the Federal government to intervene and educate County officials about the rights and protections to which all American citizens, including those in Prince George's County, are entitled.

My family has come to deeply understand the pain and personal sorrow that results from injustice at the hands of our government, particularly the injustices that occur all too frequently here in Prince George's County.

We know that we are blessed in so many ways with the love and comfort of our community, our friends, and our families - -not to mention too many complete strangers. What saddens us most is that all too often, these injustices go unnoticed by law enforcement officials and those who are victimized are forced to suffer in silence.

When these actions first occurred, and I was on the floor, bound in my boxer shorts, looking over at the dead bodies of our wonderful, loyal family members, my initial reaction was that there had been a terrible, terrible mistake.

Now that the County has arrested the people responsible for this, and I have been forced to listen to them defend their actions without even reaching out to hear our story, it has become clear to me that the problems we face in the police and sheriff's departments are systemic, and today my family and I with our many friends begin to speak out to ensure that, though we are certainly not the first victims of brutal injustice in Prince George's County, we bring about far reaching changes that will make us among the last.

Trinity, Georgia, and I cannot turn the back the clock. Bullets cannot be put back in the guns. We may have our good names back, but we will never get our dogs back.

And we may never recover a sense of security and confidence in our law enforcement leadership.

We want to make clear that we support law enforcement and know that they have a difficult and important job to do. In my five years as Mayor, I have had the privilege to work with many outstanding law enforcement professionals, particularly Berwyn Heights Police Chief Patrick Murphy.

I want to thank Chief Murphy for his support through this tough time and for setting a fine example in our community of what policing should be.

Berwyn Heights is living proof that citizens can live safely inside the Beltway and our low crime rate speaks volumes about Chief Murphy's leadership.

Chief Murphy and his officers are largely responsible for the success of our Town because of their style of policing, their understanding of the importance of training and accountability, and their close partnership with the community.

This is the type of leadership that we must demand from our County law enforcement officials.
Full text after the jump

1 comment:

  1. We have witnessed a frightening law enforcement culture in which the law is disregarded, the rights of innocent occupants are ignored, and the rights of innocent animals mean nothing. We would never have believed it if we hadn't seen it for ourselves.

    Well Mister Mayor welcome to reality. This is what the general public faces everyday. My 35lb Cocker Spaniel was shot and than attacked by a large German Shepard K9 dog. My home was torn apart and I was assaulted with a stun grenade. I have sent letters to the top officials in the state of Connecticut and not one has responded then again I'm not a Mayor so I can't make any changes that will help the next person this happens to.