Fired up the ‘pooter this morning for basically the first time in two days, to find an email from longtime reader Mutti with a link…
During a 19-hour SWAT operation in 2015, police tore out nearly every window of Leo Lech’s Greenwood Village home and reduced much of the interior to rubble.
In some spots, the damage was so severe the wooden frame of the house was exposed. But the city won’t have to pay for any of the damage its officers caused, even though Lech had no connection to the shoplifting suspect who chose his home as a hideaway from pursuing police, according to a Tuesday ruling by a federal appeals court.
Yeah, the damage shown in the photos published with the news article is pretty horrific. The short version of the story is that the cops basically tore down an innocent family’s house to catch a shoplifter.
Regular readers know that Uncle Joel loves to hate brutal police tactics and their effect on innocent people and society as a whole. But of course the story has a long version…
On June 3, 2015, SWAT officers swarmed the Lechs’ home on South Alton Street in Greenwood Village looking for Robert Seacat. Aurora officers tried to contact Seacat earlier that day for alleged shoplifting, but the man fled and randomly chose the Lechs’ home as his hideout. Seacat also had multiple felony arrest warrants, Haas Davidson said.
For five hours, officers tried to persuade Seacat to surrender. Seacat fired at least one round at police cars outside the home and multiple rounds after officers entered the home.
Aaaand that’s when the cops sent one of Obama’s armored cars through the front door and went all Blitzkrieg, property damage be damned. I’m surprised Seacat survived to be arrested.
Okay, from time immemorial American cops have taken an extremely dim view of being shot at. Even I can hardly blame them for that. In a nutshell, if you take a shot at a cop you have just ordained yourself a very bad day if they can possibly arrange it. And with the help of all the military equipment even tiny police departments in tiny American hamlets found themselves gifted in the past couple of decades, the cops can dish out a very bad day indeed – and often will. Officer Friendly doesn’t work here anymore if he ever did.
I know where I stand on the question of whether extreme police tactics are a net good or evil. But here’s an extreme example of damage that, the State would certainly argue, wasn’t really the responsibility of the police.
Here’s the scenario: The police are quite correctly chasing a multiple felon, a needle-using druggie, for a minor crime. The criminal holes up in an innocent family’s house – that’s not a minor crime – and with the knowledge that he didn’t fool the cops he takes a potshot at them. For the better part of the day the cops try to talk him out of the house but he ain’t moving. The cops go Rambo on his ass. Question: Who’s really responsible for this situation?
The offended family is understandably upset about the essential destruction of their house, and so would I be – they’re innocent victims. They want somebody to pay for the damage, and there’s no point trying to sue Robert Seacat. There’s talk of going to the Supreme Court to get the city to pay up – the family has already lost in court twice. But the city wouldn’t be paying the family, the taxpayers would. And they’re innocent, too.
Maybe I’m just getting old. I can’t believe I’m saying this. But I’m leaning toward “shit happens.”