NewsCovering Colorado


US Supreme Court asked to eye case of police destroying home

Posted at 4:04 PM, Mar 14, 2020

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado family has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether they should be compensated by the city of Greenwood Village after a SWAT operation in 2015 left their home uninhabitable during a 19-hour standoff.

The Lech family asked the court Wednesday to hear the case after a federal appeals court found last year that the city was not liable for the damage, the Denver Post reported.

The officers used an armored vehicle to break holes in the home while looking for a shoplifting suspect who hid there and fired at police, authorities said. The family said they did not know the man.

The family sued police in Greenwood Village, claiming the damage amounted to a taking of their property for public use and entitled them to fair compensation.

“The police are allowed to destroy property if they need to in order to do their jobs safely,” said Robert McNamara, an attorney representing the family. “But if the government destroys someone’s property in order to benefit the public, it is only fair that the public rather than an innocent property owner pay for that benefit.”

An appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling in October that the government was acting within its police powers, not its eminent domain authority, and did not have to provide compensation.

The family received $345,000 from their home insurance company and rebuilt the home, but their attorney previously told the Post that the amount did not cover the total loss.