A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a Colorado homeowner is owed nothing after a police SWAT team destroyed his home while trying to arrest a shoplifter who had randomly chosen the home to take refuge.
The court ruled that the city of Greenwood Village, Colorado, is not required to compensate Leo Lech for the loss of his home because it was destroyed by police as they were trying to enforce the law, according to a report from The Washington Post. The ruling by a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, was unanimous.
The case grew out of an incident in 2015 when an armed Walmart shoplifting suspect who took two belts and a shirt from an Aurora, Colorado, store then ran into Lech’s home and barricaded himself there for 19 hours. As the man hid in a bathroom in the home, a city SWAT team fired flash-bang grenades, gas munitions and 40-millimeter rounds into the house. Explosives were used to take down walls and as the standoff came to an end, an armored vehicle was driven through the front doors of the home.
Lech had been renting his home, valued at $580,000, to his son and his son's girlfriend and her son, according to a story from the Denver Post.
Lech was given $5,000 from the city for temporary rental assistance and for his insurance deductible. His insurance company paid him $345,000 for the damage to the home. Lech has since rebuilt the home, but said the money did not cover the costs to demolish, remove and rebuild the home.
“The bottom line is that destroying somebody’s home and throwing them out in the street by a government agency for whatever circumstances is not acceptable in a civilized society. It destroyed our lives completely,” Lech told the Denver Post.
Lech told The Post that he would hope the case would be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"This can't go on in this country," he said. "There has to be a limit. There has to be accountability," Lech said.
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