Shooting Berwyn Mayor's Dogs Justified, Pr. George's Says.
Post, 4 Sep 2008 (Helderman & Davis).
The Prince George's sheriff's office has concluded in an internal review that its deputies were justified when they shot and killed two dogs belonging to the mayor of Berwyn Heights during a July drug raid, Sheriff Michael Jackson said today.Comment: Sheriff Michael Jackson's statement is like Hitler surviving, doing an internal review of his actions, and claiming that the Holocaust was justified.
Jackson released the results of the review in response to a scientific examination of the carcasses of the two dogs conducted by a veterinarian with the Maryland Department of Agriculture at the request of Mayor Cheye Calvo. The necropsy concluded one dog was shot four times and the other twice, including once in the dog's back legs.
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Calvo said the necropsy has bolstered his contention that neither dog was threatening law enforcement officers during the raid and that one dog was shot from behind as he fled into a back room.
A sheriff's department SWAT team and county police narcotics officers burst into the mayor's home July 29 after police intercepted a 32-pound package of marijuana addressed to Trinity Tomsic, Calvo's wife.
Police cleared Calvo and Tomsic of wrongdoing, saying they were victims of a drug smuggling scheme in which drug-filled packages addressed to unsuspecting recipients were intercepted by a FedEx deliveryman.
Jackson said that the county attorney and the Sheriff's Office's internal affairs division are reviewing the department's internal findings in response to a formal complaint lodged by the couple and that he would provide further details when those reviews were completed.
But, he said, the investigation has concluded "the guys did what they were supposed to do."
"They had a legitimate court order to be there," he said. "Unfortunately, we had to engage the animals, but that engagement was justified."
Calvo rejected Jackson's conclusions today, noting that sheriff's deputies have not interviewed him or his mother-in-law about their accounts of the incident. Both were home at the time of the raid. Their arms were bound behind their backs, and they were questioned about the package while the body of one dog lay nearby.
"The fact that they've done an internal review without contacting the victims of their raid, the people whose house they stormed through, shows they're not very interested in the actual facts," he said.
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The necropsy was performed by Kathryn Nepote, acting director of the state's College Park Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory, and paid for by Calvo. An attorney for Calvo said the necropsy and cremation cost $360 for each dog.
According to the necropsy, 7-year-old Payton was shot four times, twice in the chest and twice in the head. One of the shots entered through his mouth and lodged in the back of his neck.
Four-year-old Chase was shot twice. One bullet entered the dog's back left leg, then lodged in his right back leg. The other entered his side and passed through his chest.
"The report confirms what me and my family saw, heard and lived and makes it clear the sheriff was not telling the truth," Calvo said.
He said the number of gunshot wounds to the two dogs indicates that the violence used in the raid was "unbelievably excessive."
Jackson said the department looked at each shooting in detail. The first dog was engaging officers near the front door, he said. The second was shot, he said, as it ran away from the deputy who fired and toward an officer standing in an adjacent hallway with his back turned.
Calvo said there was no way a deputy shooting from the kitchen could have seen another officer in the hallway as Jackson described. He called on the sheriff's department to release photos taken of the dogs the night of the raid, which he said will prove the point.
Calvo said he hopes an FBI investigation into the raid will examine other issues, including why officers did not know they were raiding the home of a mayor and why Prince George's police said at first that they had been given a "no knock" warrant to enter the home without announcing their presence but then said they had not. . . .
"This doesn't speak only to our incident. It speaks to: What is standard operating policy in Prince George's county?" he said.
Calvo and his wife have meanwhile adopted a 14-month-old black Lab and named him Marshall, he said.
I repeat my call for the immediate resignation of Sheriff Jackson, see
http://pg-politics.blogspot.com/2008/08/sheriff-michael-jackson-should-resign.html. P. Kenneth Burns at Maryland Politics Today is also repeating his call for Jackson's resignation.
Sheriff Jackson apparently:
- Does not know right from wrong
- Lied when he swore an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution
- Does not consider himself accountable to the people and
- Opposes any independent oversight of his stewardship
Under Maryland law, Sheriff Jackson cannot be recalled. But there is nothing to stop us from circulating petitions to show the public's lack of confidence in him and desire for his resignation. Our elected, political party, and civic leaders should refuse to have anything to do with him, and should oppose any attempt he makes to run for reelection or any other office. He should be booed if he appears in public.
Why is Sheriff Jackson so loudly proclaiming his innocence? Why has he opposed an independent review? Is he hiding or covering up something worse than what we have seen, or is it just that he has terrible judgment?
Either way, he has shown that he is is unfit to continue to hold public office.