There’s no way to know how badly things would have gone at the Berwyn Heights, Maryland home of Cheye and Trinity Calvo if Amir Johnson hadn’t shown up when he did.
Johnson, a private on the local police force, was making his accustomed rounds in the neighborhood when he saw a swarm of heavily armed men laying siege to the Calvo home. Inside, Cheye and his mother-in-law, Georgia Porter, were being held face-down at gunpoint with their hands tied behind their backs. The Calvo family’s two black Labradors, Chase and Payton, were dead from gunshot wounds. The assailants who killed the dogs were leaving bloody bootprints throughout the home.
This home invasion was, of course, a law enforcement operation, typical of “no-knock” drug raids conducted practically every day across the country. The most significant difference wasn’t that Cheye Calvo was completely innocent of involvement with narcotics; innocent people are terrorized and killed by drug raiders all the time. The key distinction here is that Mr. Calvo is Mayor of Berywn Heights. That’s one reason why Officer Johnson intervened to help.
“That guy in there is crazy,” one of the stormtroopers complained to Johnson as he emerged from the crime scene (that is, the scene of a crime committed under color of state “authority”). “He says he’s the Mayor of Berwyn Heights.”
“That is the Mayor of Berwyn Heights,” Johnson told the assailant, a member of the Prince George’s County police department (which has overlapping jurisdiction with the town police). Johnson quickly contacted Berwyn Heights Police Chief Patrick Murphy to tell him that a SWAT team had just laid waste to the Mayor’s home and killed the family’s dogs. Glancing around, he couldn’t see any evidence of a search warrant. Inquiries about this omission were greeted with the assurance that the document was “en route.”
Then, rather than continuing on his daily rounds, Officer Johnson stayed put, in order to make sure that Mayor Calvo and his mother-in-law weren’t mysteriously hurt or killed.
“Not that I don’t trust the police,” Johnson later commented to the Washington Post. “But I wanted to personally witness what [was] going to happen to my mayor, so if they [the SWAT team] say this guy went for a gun — and he didn’t — it’s not going to happen on my watch.”
Roll that comment around in your mind for just a second.
Officer Johnson stayed behind to make sure his mayor wasn’t murdered by his fellow police officers. A few days later, long after the raiders failed to find so much as a molecule of evidence to justify their criminal assault on the Calvo home, Chief Murphy publicly expressed exactly the same sentiments. Addressing a rally on behalf of the victims, Murphy pointed out that the SWAT team declined to notify him about the impending raid, which would have permitted the Chief to help them arrange a peaceful, orderly search of the property.
“I never imagined, when I set out to protect people from the crooks and criminals, that I would have to protect them from fellow police officers,” Murphy regretfully declared. Granted, it’s entirely unfair to consolidate cops and crooks into one undifferentiated group. Police are far more dangerous to innocent people.