Monday, February 02, 2009

business as usual in the war on drugs

So last August, I posted the then breaking news about a SWAT drug-raid gone terribly, terribly wrong. (frankly the idea of mustering para-military levels of deadly force pursuant to drug interdiction is inherently wrong, stupid, and doomed to unintended consequences)

Yesterday's Washington Post Magazine dedicated its cover story and a small novel's worth of print space to recounting this quintessentially American tragedy of errors that led to the fatal shooting of Payton and Chase and the reckless endangerment of the lives of their owners along with catastrophic disruption of their lives. The seven or more pages of this story details the moment by moment events leading up to the raid, abuses during, the raid, and to an extent, the aftermath of this raid on the mayor of Berwyn Heights, his spouse and mother-in-law who were innocent victims caught up in an unnecessary and wholly contrived skirmish in the so-called War on Drugs. The money shot comes at the conclusion of the story;
They were also determined to hold the police accountable. Through a lawyer, Cheye, Trinity and Georgia have filed a notice of intent to sue the Prince George's County Police Department and the Sheriff's Office.

Cheye likes to sit near the chest on winter nights, Marshall at his feet, as he reads. Often, he sits up late researching Supreme Court rulings on police searches and seizures.

He's read the court's decision in one 2006 case, Hudson v. Michigan, more than once. In Hudson, the court found that even when police make a clearly illegal no-knock raid, the evidence they seize can still be used against a defendant at trial.

"In other words,
police can do what they did to us with impunity" Cheye concluded. "There are no consequences, not for them."
When a SWAT team raided the Prince George's County home of Cheye Calvo and Trinity Tomsic on a mistaken drug trafficking suspicion, the couple's two dogs weren't the only ones whose lives were shattered.

Cheye Calvo, mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland and Washington Post Magazine staff writer April Witt will be online Monday, February 2 at 12 noon ET to discuss Witt's cover story, "Deadly Force."