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Police Not Held Liable for Blowing Up Innocent Man’s House in Pursuit of Shoplifter

A federal appeals court has ruled that the homeowner is not entitled to any compensation from the city or police.



(TMU) — In 2015, an armed shoplifting suspect barricaded himself inside an innocent man’s home, but instead of barging into the home and attempting to make an arrest, the cowardly police blew up the unfortunate bystander’s house instead.

Using explosives and tear gas in an attempt to force the suspect out of the home, police entirely destroyed it by the end of the encounter. The basic infrastructure and frame was left barely intact.

Now, after years of legal battles, a federal appeals court ruled that the homeowner is not entitled to any compensation from the city or the police, because the officers were “acting to preserve the safety of the public.”

The owner of the house, Leo Lech, says that the incident that day left his family homeless, simply because the police couldn’t find a less destructive way of handling the situation.

“Under no circumstances in this country should the government be able to blow up your house and render a family homeless. This family was thrown out into the street without any recourse,” Lech told NPR.

The house was ultimately condemned by the local government, leaving Lech forced to rebuild from the ground up, a construction project that he estimates cost roughly $400,000.

Despite the fact that the Takings Clause in the United States Constitution states that private property cannot be taken for public use without “just compensation,” the appeals courts ignored this and instead deferred to the long-standing legal precedent that police can not be held accountable for property that is damaged while they are trying to apprehend a suspect. This ultimately means that they can cause as much destruction as they want in the pursuit of the smallest crimes and not be held liable.

In their ruling, the appeals court recognized that this was unfair, but made the ruling anyway.

“As unfair as it may seem, the Takings Clause simply does not entitle all aggrieved owners to recompense,” the court stated in their ruling.

In this case, the suspect being chased by police had stolen two belts from a Walmart. They say he began shooting at police after barricading himself in the victim’s home.

In the initial lawsuit that was filed a year after the incident, David Williams, one of Lech’s attorneys, described the damage caused by police:

“The interior of the Lech Home was a mass of debris and destroyed belongings from the projectiles launched into the home by the Defendants. Chemical munitions or other projectiles were stuck in the walls. The Lech Home was completely uninhabitable and its condition posed a danger to anyone entering the home.”

Melissa Gallegos, a spokeswoman for the city of Greenwood Village, said that the damage that was caused was absolutely necessary to “get the gunman out without any loss of life,” however, police are supposed to risk their lives to protect people and their property, they aren’t supposed to hide behind their cars while they blow up a man’s home because they are scared of getting shot.

Gallegos also said that Lech should not be entitled to the compensation that he is seeking because the house that he rebuilt is much nicer than his old one.

By John Vibes | Creative Commons |

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