A federal appeals court ruled that a home owner isn’t owed any compensation by police after a SWAT team blasted away at his Colorado house in a stand-off with an armed shoplifter and left the property a total loss.
Leo Lech sued after police in the village of Greenwood fired gas munition and 40-millimeter rounds through the windows of his home in the June 2015 standoff with the shoplifter who had barricaded himself inside.
Cops even went as far as driving an armored vehicle through the doors, tossed flash-bang grenades inside and detonated explosives in the walls of the property.
A federal appeals court ruled Leo Lech isn’t owed any compensation by police after a SWAT team blasted away at his Colorado house (pictured) in a stand-off with an armed shoplifter and left the property a total loss
Robert Jonathan Seacat, 33, (pictured) allegedly fired upon officers when they went to arrest him for shoplifting at a Walmart in neighboring Aurora. Seacat then randomly ran into Leo Lech’s home in Greenwood, setting off a 19-hour standoff with police
Leo Lech (pictured) had estimated his losses at about $250,000 after the standoff ended and filed a civil suit seeking compensation for the damages
Lech, who had estimated his losses at about $250,000 and filed a civil suit seeking compensation for the damages, was told he would get nothing by a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on Tuesday, reports the Washington Post.
Unlike imminent domain, where municipalities buy up properties to make way for a public development and projects, police cannot be held liable for the cost of losses incurred during their enforcement of the law, ruled the court in a unanimous decision.
‘It just goes to show that they can blow up your house, throw you out on the streets and say, ‘See you later. Deal with it’, Lech the Post. ‘What happened to us should never happen in this country, ever.’
The standoff unfolded on June 3, 2015, after police and SWAT officers tried to capture Robert Jonathan Seacat, 33, who allegedly fired upon officers when they went to arrest him for shoplifting at a Walmart in neighboring Aurora.
Seacat randomly ran into Lech’s home in Greenwood, setting off a 19-hour standoff with police, that included the massive assault on the property.
During the shootout, a nine-year-old boy was inside. Police dispatchers and the child’s mother, who is engaged to Lech’s son, quickly got the child safely out of the house.
Lech later was livid by the destruction of the home, which he had purchased for his son, John, two years earlier.
Surveying the damages, Lech at the time gazed in disgust at gaping holes where there was once windows and walls.
A SWAT team fired gas munition and 40-millimeter rounds through the windows of Leo Lech’s home in the June 2015 standoff with an armed shoplifter who had barricaded himself inside
The insides of the house (pictured) had been exposed, even showing artwork on the walls of a bedroom
‘There was one gunman with a handgun and they chose to turn this house into something that resembles Osama Bin Laden’s compound’, he said then, branding the cops ‘thugs’ for what they had done to the home.
‘They methodically fired explosives into every room in this house in order to extract one person. Granted, he had a handgun, but against 100 officers?
‘You know, the proper thing to do would be to evacuate these homes around here, ensure the safety of the homeowners around here, fire some tear gas through the windows.
‘If that didn’t work, you have 50 SWAT officers with body armor break down the door’.
The insides of the house had been exposed, even showing artwork on the walls of the nine-year-old boy’s bedroom.
Lech had always expected his insurance would pay for repairs. Greenwood had even given him $5000 towards the deductible and to help cover moving costs.
But his son didn’t have rental insurance and possessions inside were damaged beyond saving or repair, Lech said. Among the items destroyed was his son’s great-great grandmother’s wedding ring.
‘It survived two World Wars, OK, but it didn’t survive the American police paramilitary operation’, Lech quipped after the standoff’s end.
Three years later, Lech said his out-of-pocket expenses to rebuild the house had cost him nearly $400000. ‘This has ruined our lives,’ he told the Post. The homeowner said he may still take his case to the US Supreme Court.
Greenwood municipal and police officials did not immediately respond when DailyMail.com reached out Wednesday.
Police previously commented on the standoff.
‘My mission is to get that individual out unharmed and make sure my team and everyone else around including the community goes home unharmed’, Greenwood Village Police Commander Dustin Varney said in 2015, KUSA reported.
‘Sometimes that means property gets damaged, and I am sorry for that’.
The Greenwood Village Police (pictured outside Lech’s home after the 2015 standoff) were found by an appeals court not liable for the losses incurred during their enforcement of the law