Stand up and get SWAT-TED down
On July 29, 2008, Cheye Calvo and his family were “visited” by a gang of thugs who roused him from his bed, forced him to the floor at the point of a gun, and handcuffed him. His mother-in-law likewise was threatened. The thugs shot and killed his two dogs.
Certainly, in the moral sense, but otherwise the thugs operated under the law inasmuch as they were the local County Sheriff’s deputies and SWAT* units of the County police.
You see the local Gestapo of Prince George’s County, Maryland, “suspected” that Cheye Calvo might be part of a drug-running ring. Later on it was determined that, oh-oh, there was a flaw in their reasoning, Calvo and his family were innocent. This probably wouldn’t have come up if the thugs, er cops, had attacked you or me, but Cheye Calvo was the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, and had enough pull to compel a proper investigation.
The subsequent investigation found,
- that the Mayor and his family were not involved in drug-running,
- that the County police had neglected to notify the local police (the county cops didn’t want to share since the more arrests made by an agency meant more federal grant money),
- that the warrant, which only appeared three days after the attack, was in violation of the law,
- that a proper pre-raid investigation was not conducted,
- that the dogs, shot numerous times, had been running away from the shooting officers; and,
- that the force used was “unbelievably excessive”.
That must have rated an apology? No, the Sheriff said, six months later, that he would do it again since the war on drugs justifies anything done in its name.
Mayor Calvo got some justice when his lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum. Nevertheless, others are less successful. Plain citizens, who are not Mayors, can be manhandled, beaten and killed by the police without repercussion.
On June 7, 2011, Kenneth Wright was dragged in his underwear from his home at 6 am and tossed into his front yard in full view of his terrified children. Reason? His ex-wife was delinquent on student loans.
On May 16, 2010, 7 year old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed as she slept on her family’s couch. Her crime? None, nor was anyone in her family criminals on the run. The police accidentally invaded her home looking for someone who had no relationship to Aiyana or to anyone in her family. Whoops!
Jose Guerana, 26 year old veteran Marine who did two tours in Iraq, was sleeping soundly after a 12 hour shift at work. When a gang broke into his home and threatened his wife, Jose thought it was a home invasion such as that suffered a year before by other family members. Jose grabbed his gun and within seconds was shot sixty times by SWAT officers.
Although the officers claimed that they only returned fire, investigators determined that Jose had not fired a shot and that the safety was on his rifle. As Jose lay on the floor of the home he tried to save, the police refused to allow paramedics to attend to him and he died.
Jose had no criminal record. No drugs were found in the house. But the cops had a “righteous shoot” because they suspected that there may have been drugs. Jose, like us, was a workingman, not a Mayor, he didn’t have the clout to get a measure of justice.
The police, equipped with weapons suitable to destroy Fallujah, pumped up with Federal grants to fight terrorism or drugs, rewarded with asset forfeitures, and free of the oversight that used to be provided by legislatures and courts, can now treat “citizens” like the sheep they think we are.
* SWAT or “Special Weapons and Tactics” refers to militarized police units established for extraordinary service such as fighting terrorists or well-armed gangsters. Nowadays, the SWAT approach is used for simple service of warrants and for the apprehension of those accused of minor misdemeanors. It’s fun for workaday cops to dress up and play-act as Army-men. In 1980, there were 3000 SWAT actions, today there are more then 50,000 annually.