Prince George’s County and Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo have reached a settlement in a suit over the unlawful shooting of Calvo’s two dogs during a raid on his home in 2008.

As a part of the settlement, Calvo will be paid an undisclosed sum of money, but he’s also leveraged the situation to change how SWAT teams operate in the county—in particular, how it deals with animals and “no-knock“warrants.

Also as a result of the incident, the Maryland General Assembly and Gov. Martin O’Malley passed a law requiring more oversight for SWAT teams in the state. The Police Training Commission and Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention have created a format that requires SWAT teams statewide to make specified reports to the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention every six months.

On July 29, 2008, Prince George’s County Sheriff deputies raided Calvo’s house after a shipment of marijuana was delivered to Calvo’s address. The deputies barged into Calvo’s house, handcuffing Calvo, his wife and mother-in-law and shooting his two Labrador retrievers.

Police officials later determined that package was sent by drug traffickers who would send packages to random addresses and pick them up outside the addressee’s home. Despite being cleared in the controversy, former Sheriff Michael Jackson maintained that his deputies did the right thing when they shot Calvo’s dogs. Jackson told the Washington Post that his officers were compromised when Calvo’s mother-in-law, Georgia Porter, screamed out “SWAT” so his officers had to run into the house.

He said Porter “corroborated that she did scream out ‘SWAT.’ She admitted to that, and admitted to hearing that upstairs in the house. That threw out the procedure of knocking and announcing, because now compromised.
“I’m sorry for the loss of their family pets,” Jackson continued. “But this is the unfortunate result of the scourge of drugs in our community. Lost in this whole incident was the criminal element. . . . In the sense that we kept these drugs from reaching our streets, this operation was a success.”

Jackson’s refusal to admit police wrongdoing in the incident “dogged” him in his bid to become Prince George’s County executive last year. A political ad paid for by the 1199 SEIU Political Action Fund showed a sad-eyed black Labrador retriever with the words, “You shot my dogs. You shot my dogs.

“When Michael Jackson’s deputies invaded a peaceful home and shot two dogs in cold blood, he said, ‘This operation was a success,’” the ad continued.

Final details from the settlement are still being ironed out, but Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is happy to bring this issue to a close.

“Today, Prince George’s County has made significant progress in working towards a settlement with Mayor Cheye Calvo,” Baker said in a statement. “These negotiations are still in process and the County expects to have a settlement in place by the Feb. 24 deadline set by Judge Ahalt.

“I am pleased with today’s decision to avoid litigation and that we are close to a final resolution of this unfortunate incident.”