Homeowner Sues Police After Pursuit Of Shoplifter Leaves Him With No Home To Own

from the not-too-far-away-from-'knock-and-talk'-meaning-'phone-call-and-missl dept

The War on Shoplifters.

This is what was left of Leo Lech's home after the Greenwood Village police were done with it. Lech had done nothing wrong. In fact, he wasn't even home. By the point the local PD had decided to turn a standoff with a suspect into a one-house reenactment of the Battle of Fallujah, the only person inside was Robert Jonathan Seacat -- originally wanted for nothing more than shoplifting.

This was all fully justified, according to the police chief, because Seacat had opened fire on police officers during the standoff.

According to Lech's lawsuit, those shots -- five of them, nine hours into the standoff -- by Seacat were met by tear gas, flash bangs, and "72 chemical bombs." Sure, it turns out Seacat had a backpack (and lower intestine) full of drugs, but the police didn't know that when they began their assault. Of course, the complete destruction of an unrelated family's house was considered copacetic because no one died.

“I made the right call because we’re standing here instead of standing over a casket,” said Greenwood Village Police Cmdr. Dustin Varney.

After Seacat fired five shots through the floor at the SWAT team, the decision was made to "vent" the home so interior areas could be more easily viewed by police officers.

When it was all said and done, the PD had gotten their man, along with his drugs, weapons and five casings from bullets fired at officers. Lech was given back his house by officers who severely misrepresented the condition of the residence.

After the SWAT team arrested Seacat amid the rubble, police told the Lechs they could go home, but there was "some damage."

Lech was also given a check for $5,000, the "assistance" of a reluctant insurance company, the city's demand that he also build a new holding pond while rebuilding his house, and the assurances of the local PD that this destruction was not only necessary, but the best case scenario.

Things then got worse, according to Lech's lawsuit.

The Lechs suffered nausea for weeks from trying to rescue items from the rubble, and property inspectors sent there wore "full hazmat gear."

The Lechs had to move to another county. Leo Lech had to take a new job at a lower salary. The boy, D.Z., had to transfer schools and enter therapy.

All of this began with Seacat stealing two belts and a shirt from Wal-Mart. Twenty-four hours later he was in custody and a family was without their home or belongings. Lech is seeking recovery of costs sustained so far, along with additional damages for emotional distress, civil rights violations, trespass, and "taking without compensation."

The police continue to insist this couldn't have been handled any other way, but arrests of armed, barricaded suspects happen all the time without having to completely destroy the building surrounding them. What happened to Lech's house appears to be the end result of a PD with lots of surplus military gear and an excuse to use it. They rolled up in a BearCat and deployed a robot, rams, and explosives to turn Leo Lech's house into a literal shell of itself. And then they walked away from the total destruction patting themselves on the back for taking the suspect alive.

Filed Under: greenwood village, leo lech, police

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  1. icon
    dobbie606 (profile), 10 Jun 2016 @ 6:40am

    Re: Military tech doesn't belong with police.

    'This is a small reflection of a larger reality
    that exists in U.S. law enforcement,
    one that helps explain
    brutality and militarization that now characterizes so many police forces. 

    Since 9/11, cops have been traveling abroad
    to learn
    from one of the most repressive and dangerous
    State forces in the world today
    --the Israeli military and intelligence apparatus.

    Political commentator John Miranda recently stated
    police brutality is directly linked to the training
    some officers receive in Israel.

    "As for the increase in police brutality within the United States,
    I think this definitely
    can be pointed towards the Israeli training
    that the Department of Homeland Security is giving all of American police officers.

    Some police officers are actually being flown to Israel
    for the training, not all of them but some,
    and then those that are flown to Israel, they come back home
    and they train
    the head officers in the training
    that they've gotten in Israel.

    All these incidents, it is not just happening to African Americans.
    Police are literally being brutal with all Americans."

    At least 300 high-ranking U.S. sheriffs and police from all over the country,
    as well as FBI and US Customs and Border Protection agents,
    have traveled to Israel to learn first-hand the most efficient means of subduing populations.

    The purported reason is counterterrorism,
    but protests and crowd control methods are commonly discussed [...]


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