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The Cops Were Chasing a Shoplifter. They Ended Up Destroying an Innocent Man's Home.

The outcome of this case may bring clarity to the property rights of Americans living in the shadow of police militarization.

Leo Lech owns a property parcel at 4219 South Alton Street in Greenwood Village, a sleepy suburban enclave tucked between Denver's bustling Tech Center and the scenic reservoir of Cherry Creek State Park. His quarter-acre plot rests near the end of a quaint cul-de-sac that fits every idyllic American stereotype: two-car garages, well-manicured lawns, the stars and stripes waving in front of each home.

While most houses on this block were built in the 1970s, Lech's is brand new: It received a certificate of occupancy in August after two years of construction.

It isn't the first building to have occupied the lot.

Over the course of June 3 and 4, 2015, a devastating police raid systematically destroyed Lech's old home. The cops were responding to a crime that Lech had nothing to do with: A suspected shoplifter had barricaded himself inside the house after a chase, sparking a 19-hour standoff with a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. Unleashing a display of force commonly reserved for the battlefield, the tactical team bombarded the building with high-caliber rifles, chemical agents, flash-bang grenades, remote-controlled robots, armored vehicles, and breaching rams—all to extract a petty thief with a handgun.

When it was over, Lech's house was completely unlivable. The City of Greenwood Village condemned it, forcing Lech to topple the wrecked structure. Making matters worse, the municipality refused to pay fair market value for the destruction.

Now Lech is suing for compensation. The outcome of his case may bring clarity to the property rights of Americans living in the shadow of police militarization.

The Destruction

The story starts in a Walmart parking lot. At 1:22 p.m. on June 3, Aurora police officer John Reiter was dispatched to the store after a security camera caught a man stealing a shirt and two belts. The official police affidavit described the thief as "a white male approximately in his thirties, 6'5" with a muscular build, short blond hair, clean shaven and lots of tattoos on his arms and shoulders"; he was wearing blue jean shorts and a red backpack. His name was Robert Jonathan Seacat.

Seacat ran to his gold-colored 1999 Lexus. As he was fleeing the scene, he nearly assaulted Reiter with the vehicle. The car was later discovered abandoned at a light rail station less than a mile away. Police found drugs, brass knuckles, and some cash inside the trunk.

In the ensuing pursuit, Seacat—now on foot—crossed a pedestrian bridge, a fence, one of Denver's busiest highways, another fence, and Village Greens Park, which backs up directly to the 4200 block of South Alton Street. The suspect broke into Lech's property by entering through the back door, tripping one alarm. While inside, he attempted to open the garage door, tripping a second alarm. At 1:54, the City of Greenwood Village Police received a report that the alarms had gone off.

The house was rented at the time to John Lech (Leo's son), Anna Mumzhiyan (John's girlfriend), and Anna's 9-year-old son. At the time of the incident, the boy was alone in the home while Anna was out running errands. The Greenwood Village cops called Anna, who informed the police that her son was inside. The frightened boy quickly managed to escape unharmed and was reunited with his mother by 2:17.

The child reported that Seacat was armed, telling police that he clearly saw a gun in Seacat's right hand when the intruder walked upstairs. A witness at the train station had also reported seeing Seacat conceal a "black compact semi-automatic pistol into the front of his pants." And at 2:23, while Officer William Woods was parking two police vehicles in the driveway to block Seacat from using any of the cars in the garage to get away, Woods reported hearing "a single gunshot" exiting the garage, forcing him to retreat to safety. In his report, Woods claimed that he could see a single bullet hole in the partially opened garage door.

Woods wasn't the only officer who claimed to have been shot at. After entering the home, others reported a "volley of 4–5 shots" originating from upstairs where Seacat was located. Police say the shots were directed toward them downstairs, but the on-scene criminalist "could not locate any bulletholes that would have originated from the kitchen area down into the basement where the SWAT team members reported to have heard and seen what they thought were gunshots being fired towards them."

The full extent of Seacat's firepower is uncertain. The train station eyewitness claimed Seacat had a .380, though the witness' knowledge of firearms is undetermined. When they finally arrested him, police found a Glock 19 in a holster Seacat was wearing. The cops also located a Glock 17, a shotgun, and an open case of 9 mm bullets. How much ammunition was missing—if any—was not reported.

It's unlikely that these other two firearms belonged to Seacat, since John Lech reported keeping a pistol "of unknown caliber" and a 20-gauge shotgun in his home. The weapons found by police were awkwardly inventoried into evidence without much context, leaving readers with the impression that Seacat was prepared for an active shooter scenario that never materialized. But according to Lech, no ammo was missing from the box and the other firearms were still in their protective casing, suggesting Seacat never touched them during the standoff.

Though accounts of Seacat's weaponry differ, court documents provide a startling summary of the police arsenal: 50 SWAT officers bombarded Lech's property with 40 mm rounds, tear gas, flashbang grenades, two armored Bearcats, and breaching rams. A total of "68 cold chemical munitions and four hot gas munitions" were detonated inside the Greenwood Village home.

Remote-controlled robots were also used during the raid. The first robot was deployed to track Seacat's whereabouts inside the house and attempt to deliver a phone to Seacat so that he could directly communicate with police. However, the robot could not maneuver through the debris inside the home, and eventually got stuck.

To retrieve the robot, an officer attempted to throw a flashbang grenade upstairs toward Seacat to create a diversion. However, the grenade bounced back downstairs toward the team of officers, forcing them to scatter and retreat. The official report states that the grenade "failed to land in its desired location." Eventually, a second robot was used to retrieve the first one.

The explosive devices were part of a broad strategy dubbed "calculated destruction" by the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA). The police intended to isolate Seacat by systematically detonating explosives in one room at a time, ultimately pushing him into a corner of the building where police could pinpoint his whereabouts.

After hours of wildly destructive failed attempts to corral the shoplifter, the final decision to extract Seacat was made the following morning at 8:21. The call authorized a team of SWAT officers to enter the home and apprehend the suspect, who was barricaded in an upstairs bathroom. Roughly 30 minutes later, Seacat was disarmed and in custody.

The Fallout

Seacat was in rough shape when police found him. He was rushed off to a nearby hospital for treatment. No official medical diagnosis has been given, but the affidavit makes certain to state that the man's depleted physical condition was "not from what had happened by officers' hands." Because of the amounts of controlled substances found in Seacat's backpack, police suspect extensive drug use was to blame. According to a review of the incident by the NTOA, a container of methamphetamine that Seacat had allegedly swallowed was "leaking into his system." The report continues, "One can only speculate as to the effect this had on Seacat's ability to think rationally, and to what degree the drug minimized the effects of any chemical munitions, which were later introduced."

Police speculation about the suspect's medical condition and drug use—which do not include any official diagnosis by a medical professional anywhere in the available documentation—cannot be confirmed at this time. Facing a total of 32 charges (including 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder), Seacat remains in custody in an Arapahoe County jail, awaiting a final verdict from a criminal trial that began in late September.

Though rich in description of Seacat and his long criminal history, the affidavit is scant in its description of the property damage. Even when the subject comes up, the exact details are glossed over. Halfway through the document, we learn in passing "that the residence had significant damage to all of the upper floor walls, basement back yard doors and front door."

50 SWAT officers bombarded Lech's property with 40 mm rounds, tear gas, flashbang grenades, two armored Bearcats, and breaching rams, plus two remote-controlled robots. A total of "68 cold chemical munitions and four hot gas munitions" were detonated.

In fact, a more accurate description of the damage can be gleaned from the orders of Dustin Varney, the commanding officer during the raid. During the standoff, Varney authorized the team to "take as much of the building as needed, without making the roof fall." Varney's self-fulfilling prophecy materialized almost exactly as he commanded. Almost every window and external door was a wide gaping hole after the raid. Pieces of household items—furniture, appliances, clothing—blended into the piles of building debris in the front and back yards. The young boy's bedroom, still sporting childhood artwork on the walls, was fully exposed to the elements after a grenade detonated inside of it, leaving a 10-foot hole in the external wall. The backyard fence was partially toppled by a Bearcat used to breach the back door.

"If you go online and look at the Osama bin Laden compound, I would say that this may look even a little worse," Lech says. Lech, who arrived on the scene during the tail end of the raid well after the bulk of the damage occurred, described what he saw as "an abomination."

When the crime scene was cleared and the tenants were allowed to return, Lech found hypodermic needles on two separate occasions, most likely the remnants of Seacat's drug stash. These discoveries suggests that the investigation and cleanup were incomplete at best and haphazard at worst.

Despite including some examples of questionable conduct, internal assessments assert that the police's actions were justified and characterize their blitzkrieg tactics as transpiring in a textbook fashion. The NTOA report states, "During the course of this event, the combined law enforcement personnel under the command of GVPD acted in a professional manner, and in substantial accordance with best practice and standards."

The Lawsuit

Thanks to large, ragged holes caused by munition blasts, piles of debris, and compromised structural integrity, the house was condemned by the local municipality immediately after the raid. The inspector spent only a few minutes examining the property before calling it a "complete loss." But the City of Greenwood Village offered Lech a measly $5,000 in compensation for his out-of-pocket insurance deductible and temporary living assistance for his displaced family. Of course, this didn't come close to covering his expenses; Lech took out a $390,000 loan to cover the costs for rebuilding alone. So in August 2016, he filed a lawsuit.

Lech's civil suit—spearheaded by his legal team of David K. Williams and Rachel B. Maxam—argues that the police action was excessive. The "calculated destruction" strategy led directly to the wanton and willful devastation of Lech's property. Therefore, the suit says, Lech is owed compensation for the damages.

Any damage, even if minimal, should place a financial burden upon the government, Williams and Maxam argue. The denial of financial restitution by the City of Greenwood Village directly violates the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment: "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." This particular clause is usually invoked in eminent domain cases, when the government seizes someone's land, for example, in order to widen a highway. But the clause has additional importance in an age of militarized police forces capable of destroying private homes and businesses.

Hence Lech v. Greenwood Village. Lech and his legal team say they want "to punish the individual officers, deter future misconduct,…demonstrate that such wanton and willful abuse of authority is unacceptable, and quash the precedent set by the Defendants that government and government employees can engage in such egregious conduct that violates the rights of citizens without consequences." In addition to the Takings Clause, they cite the 14th Amendment (specifically, the clause regarding the deprivation of property without due process) and the Colorado Constitution (which also states that "private property shall not be taken or damaged, for public or private use, without just compensation"). The suit is currently awaiting a summary judgment by a federal judge at the U.S. District Court in Denver.

Greenwood Village hopes to limit the case's scope. Under Colorado tort law, the municipality could potentially be protected by the qualified immunity provided in the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. Because of this law, public employees are shielded from liability for most tort claims, meaning every officer listed in the Lech lawsuit could possibly escape any adjudication that may assign responsibility for damage to the property.

Beyond that, the city wants the courts to reject the Takings Clause claim, arguing that the language only applies to "those whose property has been taken for public use." (According to the defense, "federal courts have consistently found that property taken pursuant to the police power is not for public use in the context of the Fifth Amendment.") Greenwood Village also alleges that Lech's 14th Amendment rights were not violated because of the unique circumstances of what happened to his home. Citing "exceptions to due process where an emergency exists," the defense is essentially arguing that constitutional rights are situational in times of public threats.

"What amazed me when I first found out about this case is that there is no federal case law dealing with this type of circumstances," says Williams.

Some relevant case law does exist on the state level. In Steele v. City of Houston (1980), some Texas plaintiffs received damages after Houston police destroyed their home in an effort to capture three escaped convicts. In Wegner v. Milwaukee Mutual Insurance Company (1991), the court sided with a Wisconsin homeowner whose house was significantly damaged by tear gas used to apprehend an armed suspect barricaded inside the residence. On the other side of the ledger is Customer Co. v. City of Sacramento (1980), where the court cited California tort law in ruling against property owners stuck with the bill after tear gas damaged their home. None of these cases match the severity of Lech's property damage, and since they all took place in state courts, none is binding for a federal judge.

Right now the most important issue is jurisdiction, which relies on the principle of "ripeness." Is this case at the appropriate stage for a federal judge to decide? More specifically, does the federal judge have everything needed to make a ruling? If the case is not ripe, the decision will move back down to the Colorado courts.

Lech's legal team is confident that the suit will not be kicked back to the state, because it was the state courts that sent it to the federal judge in the first place. The defense disagrees, naturally, claiming that all adjudication options have not been fully exhausted at the state level yet.

Considering the potential payout involved—compensation not just for the house, but for damaged personal belongings, uncollected back rent, housing expenses for the displaced family, legal fees, and so on—the case is likely to be appealed no matter which side wins. That would put it on a direct path to the appellate courts and, potentially, the Supreme Court. If it does reach that point, it could become a landmark decision.

Not an Isolated Incident

A telling moment occurred during a recent deposition for Lech's civil suit. While being questioned by the defense, Lech pointed to former Reason staffer Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop (PublicAffairs), an influential 2013 text that chronicles the escalating pattern of police militarization in the United States.

Andy Nathan, the lead lawyer representing the City of Greenwood Village, then asked, "Is that one of the books, as you understand it, that Mr. McVeigh read before he blew up the Oklahoma City Murrah building?"

Timothy McVeigh would have had trouble reading Rise of the Warrior Cop, considering that he was executed 12 years before it was published. But Nathan continued his efforts to tie Lech to radicals and terrorists, asking Lech if he had read the white nationalist tract The Turner Diaries and inquiring as to what Balko had to say about the famous standoff at Ruby Ridge. The attorney was apparently eager to paint Lech, Balko, and anyone else who might be critical of police as anti-government fanatics.

Unfortunately, Lech's case does not exist in a vacuum. As Balko's work has shown, what took place at 4219 South Alton Street reflects a pervasive problem within the law enforcement community: a mentality that takes a bellicose strategy and technological arsenal once reserved for the battlefield and brings them to bear on domestic crimes. This troubling pattern is accompanied by the government's equally frustrating tendency to try to shirk any culpability when it destroys private property.

According to Rise of the Warrior Cop, approximately 90 percent of cities with populations over 50,000 people utilize SWAT raids in a variety of law enforcement situations—ranging from the issuance of warrants to active shooter scenarios. Though pinning down an exact number of raids is difficult due to a lack of a central data source, criminologists estimate between 50,000 and 80,000 SWAT events occur per year in the United States. Those numbers have only grown since the book's publication.

And this pattern may get even worse. On August 27, the Trump administration announced a reversal of an Obama-era ban on sending certain surplus Pentagon weapons to state and local law enforcement agencies. Handing off weapons designed for war zones to local police puts more property owners at risk of becoming the next Leo Lech.

The final outcome of Lech's case will do one of two things. It could serve as a precedent safeguarding property owners from the destructive forces of an increasingly militarized police force. Or it could further empower law enforcement to recklessly destroy private property and make the owners foot the bill for the damages.

The City of Greenwood Village has already spent substantially more money fighting this suit than it would have cost to simply pay fair market value for the house. But city officials understand what's at stake, and so does the homeowner fighting them.

"They don't want that precedent set," Lech says. "And they will spend whatever is necessary to stop it."

Photo Credit: Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post, via Getty Images

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I remember when I was a teenager getting so excited I would totally blow my load over some girl's blouse. I never paid to get it cleaned, either. Restraint comes with maturity. I'm sure at some point law enforcement will evolve to the point of accountability.

  • modurhead||

    not until they destroy the earth

  • modurhead||

    remember waco

  • Griffin3||

    Which Waco?

  • Ragoftag||

    Either was a LEO over response.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

  • Rich||

    "Well, I don't believe you're telling me the truth, okay? Because I'm seeing some involuntary indicators that you've consumed marijuana, okay?"

    "Well, I *am* telling you the truth, okay? And I'm seeing some involuntary indicators that you're delusional, okay?"

  • PaulTheBeav||

    He wasn't just a shoplifter, he was an armed shoplifter. @Reason, you're better than this. What the police did was a terrible overreaction, but not as bad as your headline implies. You don't need to craft deceptive headlines to get our attention. We don't need another news source using hype and hyperbole.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Don't care. It doesn't matter if the shoplifter had a tactical nuke; the police destroyed a man's home. Maybe they had to destroy his home to protect the populace. Beat. The populace then owes the man a new home. Pedigree, dot.If the State takes property for the public good, the State should compensate the property owner.

  • Rich||

    The State may very well pin the damage on the shoplifter. Can't get blood from a turnip.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Basic principle, no matter how splendid the reason, if the State (which is the People) destroyed a man's property, the State (which is the People) should pay for it.

  • modurhead||

    walmart should be held liable for not keeping their stuff secure

  • Rich||

    It's just a matter of time.

  • MoreFreedom||

    The police didn't have to destroy the home. They could have simply cut the power, cut the water and waited until the guy gave up. If they wanted to speed things up, they could have used smoke bombs to make it hard for him to breath. That would have only required at most cleanup, new paint and carpet.

    Seems to me, the police like blowing things up, and the city wants the freedom to do it again. They deserve to lose their case, big time, and the mayor/council members backing it need to be voted out of office.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Dude. Tannerite doesn't blow itself up! But it sure looks awesome when it does. Here, hold my beer and my nightstick. I got this.

  • Shut up Hail Rataxes||

  • <Unpastable>||

    @Reason, you're better than this.

    They are not.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    At what point did that suspect present a single thing that warranted multiple grenades, untold rounds of ammo, multiple battering rams, and so much severe damage that even specifically designed robots couldn't traverse the floors? That you honed in on a miniscule point and blow it out of proportion to the actual story says more about you than Reason.

  • Ragoftag||

    Reason has shifted to the anti-Trump camp and attacks conservatives with abandon. Their mischief has saddled VA with consecutive Democrat Governors and threatens to destroy Moore based on lies.

  • Libertarian||

    Oh, god. Everyday, new apologies for harassment. And now, apologies for defending harassment.

    Lena Dunham apologized Saturday for defending a male writer and executive producer on her TV show "Girls" who is accused of raping an actress when she was 17.

    In a new statement Dunham issued on Twitter, she said that she'd "naively believed" sharing her opinion of the situation from her vantage point "was important." But she now understood "that it was absolutely the wrong time to come forward" and said "I am so sorry."

    http://www.foxnews.com/enterta.....tress.html

  • Rich||

    It's apologies all the way down!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Todays Sexual assault roundup:

    1. Russell Simmons accused of sexual assault while Bruce Ratner watched
    2. Girls writer and producer accused of sexual assault
    3. Accused and self-admitted sexual assaulter, Lena Dunham, defends girls writer and producer
    4. Lena Dunham apologizes for defending girls producer and writer.

  • josh||

    It's like, no matter how hard she tries, she keeps getting it wrong.

  • Pogue Mahon||

    If he didn't want to get his home smashed into rubble like a thug, then he shouldn't have owned a house that some petty criminal randomly ran inside, like a thug.

  • gah87||

    The state will compensate homeowners for accidental, natural destruction, e.g., floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, but not for intentional, government destruction. The state does not hold itself accountable for its own actions, but takes responsibility for natural acts. Ergo, the state views itself as God.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Oh come off it. The government did not intend to destroy his house.

  • Morbo||

    Yes, they did.

    The explosive devices were part of a broad strategy dubbed "calculated destruction" by the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA). The police intended to isolate Seacat by systematically detonating explosives in one room at a time, ultimately pushing him into a corner of the building where police could pinpoint his whereabouts.
    ...
    In fact, a more accurate description of the damage can be gleaned from the orders of Dustin Varney, the commanding officer during the raid. During the standoff, Varney authorized the team to "take as much of the building as needed, without making the roof fall."In fact, a more accurate description of the damage can be gleaned from the orders of Dustin Varney, the commanding officer during the raid. During the standoff, Varney authorized the team to "take as much of the building as needed, without making the roof fall."

    They absolutely intended to destroy the house, using a calculated tactic designed to corner the suspect. There was nothing unintentional about it.

  • MoreFreedom||

    I agree - the police decided to destroy the house because they could and believed they and the city wouldn't be responsible for it. They had far better options, but hey, I'd bet most police like blowing things up.

    It's a lot more fun to destroy a house then wait it out, or smoke him out.

    How crazy is it for the city to pay more to defend their right to destroy homes than to just pay up to replace the home? Voters should take note.

  • <Unpastable>||

    They had far better options

    Such as...?

  • Morbo||

    The same thing the vast majority of SWAT teams do in this situation: Create a perimeter, pull back and wait him out. "Armed guy holed up in a house" seems to happen damn near every week around here, and I've never heard of the police completely destroying a house to get at him.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Create a perimeter, pull back and wait him out.

    Which they attempted to do if you read the affidavit... problem is he was still shooting at them.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Myriad options, you police excuser. But none of those options included using their tacti-cool new toys.

    I have to ask you this. How many other homes and people were put in danger? All for a couple of shirts and a belt. Seems fair.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Now Lech is suing for compensation. The outcome of his case may bring clarity to the property rights of Americans living in the shadow of police militarization.

    In defense of the state, doesn't this whole raid fit under the definition of public purpose?

  • modurhead||

    public terrorism

  • modurhead||

    public terrorism

  • Eidde||

    Still have to pay even if it's a public purpose.

    Such is my naive reaction, anyway.

  • ||

    ...doesn't this whole raid fit under the definition of public purpose?


    Someone already noted this.

    If it does fit under the definition of public purpose, then the owner is entitled to to be compensated.

    Compensation should include not just restoration of his property to its preexisting state but all damages caused by the loss of that property including all out of pocket expenses including but not limited to temporary living expense while his property is being restored.

    There would be a lot more trust in the notion of a "social contract" if state entities were willing to meet their side of such a deal.

  • <Unpastable>||

    The Fifth Amendment says "use", not "purpose". This is absolutely not public use.

    And destroying something isn't the same as taking it.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    The fuck it isn't. So if I steal your car but leave it in my drive way, that's cool? I mean! I'm not using it!

    Even if technically correct, your reading of the text utterly misses the spirit, intent, and purpose (use) of the 5th.

  • modurhead||

    combat pigs strike again over a shirt and 2 belts,what heroes. maybe walmart should reimburse him?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Most Americans support domestic law enforcement behaving like occupying troops clearing houses in Fallujah. It's only going to get worse. Hell, they may even support carpet bombing entire high crime neighborhoods.

  • gah87||

    Many high-crime neighborhoods (Chicago comes to mind) seem to be doing a fine job of it on their own. Adding militarized police to the party sounds like an excellent way to turn the destruction up to 11. So, you're probably right.

  • Tony||

    Yeah you probably don't want to wander into the neighborhood of Chicago.

  • Rich||

    Hell, they may even support carpet bombing entire high crime neighborhoods.

    Like this?

  • AlmightyJB||

    I remember that. Was jacked up.

  • DenverJ||

    In all fairness, Greenwood village is probably the most peaceful part of the Denver metro. The boys in blue must be bored out of their piggy little minds; no way they were going to pass up this opportunity to raise some hell.

  • fdog50||

    This reminds me of the house in Los Angeles that was burned to the ground in that shootout during the search for Patty Hearst, back in the 70s. Were those owners ever compensated?

  • bailers77||

    They were black, so it doesn't matter how police act.

    (Sarcasm btw)

  • Tony||

    Maybe their fiscal year-end was coming up and it was a use it or lose it situation with the grenades and robots.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Explode by dates, more likely.

  • hammerhead||

    The real question here is this: If the police, in pursuit of an alleged or suspected criminal, be it a benign shoplifter or a serial killer, in the process completely guts and destroys your abode...should they be held responsible for that damage and make reparations to the homeowner...?

  • hammerhead||

    The real question here is this: If the police, in pursuit of an alleged or suspected criminal, be it a benign shoplifter or a serial killer, in the process completely guts and destroys your abode...should they be held responsible for that damage and make reparations to the homeowner...?

  • <Unpastable>||

    You mean, should the taxpayers be held liable.

  • DRM||

    Hey, you want to repeal qualified immunity and make the cops themselves liable, fine by me.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Seconded!

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Yes, go with pedantry again. It really helps make your indefensible position all the more strong. Your "Shit happened by our doing that in all conceivable measure of logic could have been avoided had we not started with options of last resort, but this way resulted in your lots of property without restitution because FYTW." position sits with little proper diagnosis and perfunctory reason.

  • Warren Redlich||

    40 mm rounds?

    I think the author means .40 caliber, which are roughly 10 mm.

  • Libertarian||

    In the old days, you could assume the author was mistaken. Today? Eh........

  • AlmightyJB||

    Military Grenade launchers are 40mm. I believe the police use 37mm for tear gas canisters although who knows, they may have the military versions "just in case" they need to launch actual grenades at an illegal girl scout cookie stand.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Just read section. Yeah, the tear gas and flash bang grenades are probably what author is referring to.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Evidently, LE uses the 40mm as well. 37mm is civilian for things like flairs.

    https://securitydii.com/40mm-launcher-choices/

  • bailers77||

    Maybe the courts will finally accept that not all officers are reasonable, which would blow apart qualified immunity.

    One can hope.

  • emmanuel||

    Last spring the local authorities had a showing of all their neat tactical stuff, fire engines, K9 officers, etc. There was one of those MRAP vehicles, I think. The one that's bigger than a Humvee.

    Anyway, as I was looking at the very large vehicle an officer approached and asked what I thought about it. I told him that since I live on a private street, if I saw that vehicle coming down my street I would go into my home and take the safeties off my rifles. Then I would go sit on my porch and if some a--hole on that turret pointed something at me, I would do what the Army trained me to do and take him out. (A little rougher language though)

    Then I asked the officer what he would do if some a--hole on the turret pointed something at him.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Since Reason writers are now anointing themselves as experts on law enforcement tactics, perhaps they can share what they think the police should have done in this situation, with a criminal shooting at them from within the house. It seems extremely unlikely that he was merely a shoplifter given the extreme measures he was taking to avoid arrest.

    Maybe they should have just set up a perimeter and not let anyone in or out? Then Reason would be screeching about the property owner being denied the use of his property.

    Or maybe they should have just walked away and let the criminal terrorize the property owner when he got home. Reason would be complaining about that too, no doubt.

    And of course the demand that "the police" or "the government" pay for the damage translates into a demand that uninvolved taxpayers pay for it. How libertarian!

    Lots of complaints and no solutions -- par for the course in the current iteration of Reason.

  • Tony||

    Considering a minor infraction will put someone into a Kafkaesque nightmare in the US criminal justice system, one wonders why they don't make things a bit less medieval so that perhaps people would rather surrender than take desperate measures.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Damn. Some asshole cop wishing to remain nameless has me supporting Tony.

  • Sevo||

    "...with a criminal shooting at them from within the house."

    From the article:
    "...but the on-scene criminalist "could not locate any bulletholes that would have originated from the kitchen area down into the basement where the SWAT team members reported to have heard and seen what they thought were gunshots being fired towards them."
    "...The weapons found by police were awkwardly inventoried into evidence without much context, leaving readers with the impression that Seacat was prepared for an active shooter scenario that never materialized. But according to Lech, no ammo was missing from the box and the other firearms were still in their protective casing, suggesting Seacat never touched them during the standoff."

    Since you're an "expert" on what happened there, maybe you could tell us.
    Idiot...

  • <Unpastable>||

    All that means is that none of the residents' guns were used. According to witnesses, the perp had his own gun on entering the house.

    The line about the criminalist is strangely-phrased -- they didn't say they didn't find any bulletholes, just ones from specific places where the perp may or may not have been. In particular, it is not stated whether the bullethole in the garage door that the original gunshot was supposed to have made was verified. Hate to say it, but at this point, weird gaps in Reason's reporting usually indicate they've edited out information that goes against their evil-cops narrative.

  • Sevo||

    "All that means is that none of the residents' guns were used. According to witnesses, the perp had his own gun on entering the house."

    So you're really trying to defend your bullshit?
    No, it means that there was no evidence of shots fired from the inside out, plus it means there was no evidence he used any of the weapons or ammo in the house.
    There was hearsay claims that 'someone saw' the thug with a weapon.
    Learn to read; it is a handy skill.

  • <Unpastable>||

    And they found a G19 in his holster upon capture. Which wasn't one of Lech's guns.

    Also found bullet holes all over the house, but you can be forgiven for not knowing that given Reason's selective reporting.

  • Sevo||

    "And they found a G19 in his holster upon capture. Which wasn't one of Lech's guns."
    Cite missing

    "Also found bullet holes all over the house, but you can be forgiven for not knowing that given Reason's selective reporting."
    And you, as an ignoramus, cannot be forgiven for assuming those were caused by the thug rather than the LEOs.
    Are you really this stupid? Do you have a dog in this fight?
    You've proven to be an ignoramus several time already; do you want to continue?
    Suggestion: stick around with the same handle so we know stupid when we see it.

  • Eidde||

    But you do have a point, it seems unfair to force taxpayers to pay for damage caused by people they can't fire or control.

    To solve that little problem, why not dissolve police unions, abolish law enforcement "bill of rights," and give elected officials like mayors and sheriffs the power to fire cops at any time for any reason?

    And if some elected official in one town fires a cop wrongfully, then the cop can always pick up a new gig at another, more LEO-friendly community.

    With citizens actually exercising control over the cops - through elected officials (we could call this form of government "republican," to use the Constitutional term) - then it would be more fair to make citizens pay for cops' actions.

  • Sevo||

    "To solve that little problem, why not dissolve police unions, abolish law enforcement "bill of rights," and give elected officials like mayors and sheriffs the power to fire cops at any time for any reason?"

    I'll make it easier:
    1) LEO unions are perfectly acceptable, but the government does not treat with them; the various governments simply do not acknowledge their existence. They are fraternal organizations, no more, no less.
    2) LEOs are therefore treated as 'at will' employees; they can be fired for any reason a superior chooses, excepting discriminatory fires.
    3) As a condition of hire, LEOs are required to carry personal liability insurance in an amount at least as high as the local auto driver's insurance.
    3) LEOs are subject to personal liability judgements under tort law

  • Eidde||

    Sounds good to me.

  • <Unpastable>||

    OK, market economics 101. What do you think these changes will do to the salary required for people to voluntarily perform the legitimate duties of police officers. Which are fairly shitty work (and if you don't think they are shitty, then why the hell don't you do it yourself if you think they've got it so good).

  • Eidde||

    What changes are criticizing? The one where public employees are accountable to elected representatives of the public?

  • Eidde||

    Are you suggesting that unlike people in other dangerous jobs (logging, late-night convenience store clerk), cops should get special due-process protections if their employer dares try to fire them?

  • <Unpastable>||

    It's a tradeoff. The things you're talking about would be nice to have. But they wouldn't come for free.

  • Eidde||

    What shouldn't come for free? Government by consent of the governed?

    Of course it didn't come for free, as the guys at Valley Forge could have told you. But you're pissing on those soldiers' graves by trying to reintroduce a feature of aristocratic, anti-republican government, or holding republican government hostage until you get more money.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Dude, seriously. You put more constraints on someone's job and add more risk, the price is going to go up. Taxpayers don't have a right to someone else's labor at a lower wage than they would like to get.

  • Eidde||

    Republican government is not negotiable.

    Working out an honest wage for honest cops would be a useful task for experts to work on *after* basic constitutional, republican principles have been reinstated.

  • Eidde||

    (And don't forget the ability of cops fired in one jurisdiction to seek a cop job elsewhere - in a jurisdiction which truly values their selfless service)

  • Sevo||

    "Dude, seriously."

    Dude?
    Fuck,
    seriously
    off
    Dude
    seriously.
    Just fuck off, slimebag.

  • Sevo||

    "OK, market economics 101. What do you think these changes will do to the salary required for people to voluntarily perform the legitimate duties of police officers. Which are fairly shitty work (and if you don't think they are shitty, then why the hell don't you do it yourself if you think they've got it so good)."

    maybe what it costs to cover the liability? Maybe good cops will force bad cops (and I'm beginning to guess you are one of the slimebag LEOs) to find employment as ditch-diggers?

    And as evidence that you are a slimbag LEO, we have:
    "Which are fairly shitty work (and if you don't think they are shitty, then why the hell don't you do it yourself if you think they've got it so good)."
    The cry of the victim! Oh, yes, asshole! You've done it.

  • <Unpastable>||

    But the City of Greenwood Village offered Lech a measly $5,000 in compensation for his out-of-pocket insurance deductible and temporary living assistance for his displaced family. Of course, this didn't come close to covering his expenses; Lech took out a $390,000 loan to cover the costs for rebuilding alone.

    So he has insurance to cover this.

    Considering he already owns the property, $390K seems a little high. Is he trying to get taxpayers to build him a McMansion?

  • Eidde||

    That greedy SOB, he must love the fact that the cops ruined his home, he probably planned it all in advance just to give himself a big payday.

    /sarc

  • <Unpastable>||

    "Never let a crisis go to waste."

  • Eidde||

    I have no idea how you're trying to tie that in to the subject of this article.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Just because he didn't plan to get a payday doesn't mean he's not after one now that the opportunity is there.

  • Eidde||

    That selfish, greedy bastard! Just because they destroyed his house, he wants to be paid for it, as if he thinks his house was his castle or something.

  • Eidde||

    Maybe he could simply get a quicker payday if he filed a claim for stress-based disability, or does that only work for cops?

  • <Unpastable>||

    He is getting paid by insurance, according to the article.

  • Eidde||

    Ha, you didn't bother to defend the cop disability system. I don't blame you, it has a few abuses.

  • Bill Robelen||

    Bear in mind, not only did Mr. Lech have to pay to rebuild the house, he first had to pay to have the home demolished. Also, homeowners insurance may not have covered the damage. Most policies exclude acts of war, and many may exclude damage from criminal conduct. Even if the homeowners insurance policy covered the damage, insurance does not pay immediately. It can take months for the insurance to pay for the damage. It is long past time to require a rule that unless the homeowner actively attacks the police so that a swat team or a tactical team is needed for a raid, the police are per se liable for all damage caused by a raid.

  • Sevo||

    I'm sure the insurance bailed wherever it could, and I'm not whining, simply pointing out that insurance is a business.
    I would hope, since the insurance is likely covering some of the costs, they are also covering some of the legal costs (to recover their losses from the city)
    I don't see anything, but I would not be surprised if the Institute for Justice might also be involved.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Most policies exclude acts of war, and many may exclude damage from criminal conduct.

    Excluding criminal conduct damage would result in a pretty useless home insurance policy. A large fraction of claims are related to breaking/entering and theft, which last I checked was criminal conduct.

    It is long past time to require a rule that unless the homeowner actively attacks the police so that a swat team or a tactical team is needed for a raid, the police are per se liable for all damage caused by a raid.

    1. You mean the taxpayers are liable.
    2. The police were actively being attacked by the person in the house! Are you suggesting they should have stopped and asked the guy shooting at them to verify whether he owned the house?

  • Sevo||

    You are really trying to prove jackass of the evening, are you?

    "1. You mean the taxpayers are liable."
    Unfortunately, that is the limit as of now. When you (YOU) arrange personal liability for the LEO perps,, I'm sure you'll have a following. Until then, you're nothing other than one more idiot.

    "2. The police were actively being attacked by the person in the house.
    I see you both didn't read the article, nor what I posted above.
    Fuck off.

  • <Unpastable>||

    1. So you don't dispute that you want the taxpayers to be liable. The issue of qualified immunity is separate, but I would expect a libertarian of all people to stop and think about unintended consequences of telling cops they're personally liable for every cent of damage that occurs while they attempt to nab an active shooter.

    2. The article is misleading, presenting a carefully selected subset of the information from the police affidavit. as I posted below. The evidence points to an attack on the police.

  • Sevo||

    "1. So you don't dispute that you want the taxpayers to be liable."
    No, you fucking imbecile, I want the loss to the owner covered. If you read what I posted, you'd see I prefer the LEOs pay for it, but given your inability to read, I'm not surprised you are confused.

    "2. The article is misleading, presenting a carefully selected subset of the information from the police affidavit. as I posted below. The evidence points to an attack on the police."
    Isn't it amazing that some idiot poster here knows what happened?
    Fuck off.

  • <Unpastable>||

    No, you fucking imbecile, I want the loss to the owner covered.

    And if you have to take it from someone who had nothing to do with it, oh well. Gotta break some eggs to make that omelette. Not very libertarian if you ask me.

    Isn't it amazing that some idiot poster here knows what happened?

    Yeah, it's called reading the source material and not trusting Reason to do honest reporting.

  • Sevo||

    "And if you have to take it from someone who had nothing to do with it, oh well. Gotta break some eggs to make that omelette. Not very libertarian if you ask me."
    And if the fucking imbecile can offer an alternative, I'm sure we'd all be happy to see it. So far, you've done nothing other than, fucking imbecile, defend what the LEOs did.

    "Isn't it amazing that some idiot poster here knows what happened?
    Yeah, it's called reading the source material and not trusting Reason to do honest reporting."
    No, fucking imbecile, you've so far proven you can't read.
    As you can tell, I'm a bit tired of dealing with a fucking imbecile who has yet to offer ONE BIT of evidence for the claims the fucking imbecile has made.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Hey. Dumbfuck. Why don't you actually understand what insurance does and doesn't cover.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Apparently it covers this, since the guy is talking about his deductible.

  • Sevo||

    "Apparently it covers this, since the guy is talking about his deductible."

    "Apparently"?
    Aren't you oh, so kind, to presume what you DO NOT KNOW. As you have in most every post.
    Are you dedicated to proving you are a contender in the conclusion-jumping event, or just a fucking idiot? Or maybe both.

  • Sevo||

    Chipotle peddles the worst sort of 'natural-therefore-healthy' food and propaganda; 'locaally-sourced!' (big whoop!), inspected locally by those incompetent to do so, and they deserve all the grief they've gotten.
    But when you lose Business Insider, you're lost the turds of the world; the ones claiming to favor business and prosperity, but actually opposed to any profit-making operation:

    "'We should expect to see another outbreak': Reports of illnesses from Chipotle are soaring"
    [...]
    ""The rate of food poisoning reports attributed to Chipotle continues to be multiples higher than peers," Quade told Business Insider, referring to data pulled from his website, which allows people to self-report illnesses."
    http://www.businessinsider.com.....ng-2017-11

    So his web-site publishes self-reported bullshit and Business Insider features it? "Bullshit Insider" should hire the MSNBC staff; their rep would improve.

  • <Unpastable>||

    At least the E. coli you get at Chipotle aren't genetically modified.

  • Sevo||

    Given your posts, I'm betting you find that a feature!

  • <Unpastable>||

    Wow. Here is the affidavit from police which appears to form the basis of Reason's reporting about the events. If you can call it reporting.

    As I suspected, they carefully edited the section about the search for bullet holes (starting on page 11). Bullet holes were found in the bathroom leading into the kitchen, along with shell casings. There was a bullet hole entering the engine compartment of the vehicle the original officer parked in front of the garage, backing up the report that the perp fired at the officers while he was trying to open the garage door.

    Perp had arrests for drug stuff and aggravated motor vehicle theft, and the cops found meth all over the house... so yeah, not just a shoplifter.

    As for Lech's guns, which he had told police were unloaded and in a different room from the ammo, the G17 was found loaded, while the shotgun was found with ammo attached. So either the perp was preparing to use them, or Lech's reported statement was false.

    Once again, a level of dishonest reporting that might make the NYT or WaPo blush.

    And yeah, I know the response from years on H&R -- "hurr durrh the cops are lying". But the guy who stands to get paid from this lawsuit is an angel who would never say anything false to get his payday. Yeah, I know.

  • Eidde||

    OK, assume they took his house as a bona fide measure to fight crime. It's still a taking, and needs to be paid for like the Constitution says.

  • <Unpastable>||

    Destroying is not taking, and this is definitely not for public use.

  • Eidde||

    You just made an own goal - you've made the destruction of the house look worse, not better.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    That's not what was portrayed in the article. You missed the entire fucking point. But you'll keep backing the asshats in blue, likely because you are one of the asshats, regardless of the logical leaps you have to keep making.

    I for one totally feel safer now. Thanks for your erudite posts suggesting that we give even more power to the asshats while telling individual tax payers to go fly a kite simply because you want to protect the tax paying masses.

  • <Unpastable>||

    He has insurance to cover it. It's like a tree falling on your house, it's not the LEO's fault (except the perp's).

    But I'm all ears for someone to provide the first attempt at explaining what they think the cops should have done instead of what they did.

  • Sevo||

    "But I'm all ears for someone to provide the first attempt at explaining what they think the cops should have done instead of what they did."
    You're a fucking ignoramus who might actually be Tulpa.
    If not, you're due exactly what he was due:
    Fuck off, ignoramus.

  • Sevo||

    Totally OT:
    Wife and I have benes from past employers, including med insurance benes. After O-care was jammed down our throats, both PEs (one long before the other) opted to outsource both the payments and the admin. I don't blame them; both are publicly traded companies and neither had any idea what costs Obo had tossed in their laps even a year in advance.
    So now we have an arbitrage industry selling outsourced medical insurance admin and payments to major employers (both of ours were and are). And with the IRS recent ruling, employers with 50 employees are going to have to accept or sell the same risk.
    For the imbeciles (Tony? turd?) who somehow think that will reduce costs, I have a hint: You're full of shit. Risk costs money. And the evidence is pretty clear; one of the 'outsource' providers has changed hands twice in the last three years.
    I'm betting that the O-buddie (hypocrite) Buffett will be a big player there soon.