BERWYN HEIGHTS, Md. – A small-town mayor whose dogs were killed in a drug raid was cleared of any wrongdoing after police had been reluctant to rule out his involvement in drug smuggling or apologize for the violent incident.
Prince George's County Police Chief Melvin High said Friday he called Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife, Trinity Tomsic, on Thursday to say they were no longer suspected in a drug smuggling scheme.
A SWAT team raided the mayor's home July 29 after intercepting a FedEx package shipped to Tomsic that was filled with 32 pounds of marijuana. Officers broke down the door, shot the two dogs and kept Calvo and his mother-in-law bound for nearly two hours.
Police now believe the drug delivery was part of a scheme that sent packages to the homes of unsuspecting recipients. The packages would then be picked up by someone else shortly after delivery. Two suspects have been arrested in the case.
"The Calvo family members were the apparent victims of a local drug ring," High said in a statement. "I called him to express my sorrow and regret for that and for the loss of the family's beloved dogs."
High stopped short of apologizing for how the drug raid was carried out. He said the police department was conducting a review of the narcotics investigation that led to the raid. The county sheriff has said the dogs' deaths were justified, saying officers felt threatened.
Investigators had been tracking the package that arrived on Calvo's front porch since it drew the attention of a drug-sniffing dog in Arizona.
Calvo and Tomsic requested a federal civil rights investigation of the case on Thursday, and the FBI responded by launching a review. The couple says there may be a systemic abuse of search warrant powers and use of force in the county.
"The deputies opened fire and executed our dogs the very second they broke down our front door," Calvo, 37, said at a news conference on his front lawn Thursday. "We were harmed by the very people who took an oath to protect us."
Calvo did not immediately respond to a telephone message requesting comment Friday. Calvo has said he and his wife considered their dogs to be their children.
Maryland State Sen. Paul Pinsky, who represents the suburban Washington district, said the case was a good example of frequent police action in minority communities that fails to capture the same level of attention as Calvo's case.