Property Rights and Wrongs

Before the hyperbole spins out of control, no one was killed.  No innocent person. No guilty person. No cop. Under the circumstances, that’s nothing to sneeze at. With that in mind, Leo Lech, who bought the house for his son, had reason to be miffed.

The home, in Greenwood Village, Colorado, took a hit. And another. And more still.

The incident unfolded after police and SWAT officers tried to capture Robert Jonathan Seacat, 33, when he was allegedly spotted shoplifting in Aurora on Wednesday.

Seacat then opened fire on police when they tried to arrest him a short time later and ran into a random home on Wednesday afternoon.

Seacat began a 20-hour stand-off with police and was only taken into custody on Thursday morning.

Notably, this was a random house. There was no connection between Seacat and the home to explain why he chose this house to enter, or that this house was in any imaginable way connected to any wrong doing. The house was innocent.

And very unfortunately, the house was occupied when Seacat entered.

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.

You want an atrocity? Add a dead child to the mix. That would have been an abomination.  This was a piece of property destroyed.  Sorry, but it does not rise to the level of a dead child.

That said, every gaping hole in the walls of Lech’s house is a monument to police incompetence.  That they couldn’t figure out a way to deal with a lone gunman inside a residence without laying waste to the place puts a lie to law enforcement fantasies that they have a clue what they’re doing.

More importantly, it belies their astounding lack of concern with the havoc they wreak in the process. In their collective minds, they considered only the goal of “getting” the gunman at any expense.  At what expense, or whose expense, never entered their thinking.  Was it “not my problem” or that they’ve got destructive toys and this would be a really cool opportunity to use them?

According to police, the SWAT team used chemical agents, flash-bang grenades and a ‘breaching ram.’

Lech added: ‘They methodically fired explosives into every room in this house in order to extract one person.’

It would seem clear from the images that the blown-out walls of every room on the second floor and most of the first, weren’t caused by flash-bang grenades, but thus raises a question about what armament was used. Since when did the Greenwood Village SWAT team get their hands on explosives for local use?

Granted, he had a handgun, but against 100 officers?

This is where Lech gets his motor running in the wrong direction, like when he offers his tactical advice that 50 cops in body armor should have rushed the gunman in the house.  Maybe so, but it’s not for the homeowner to come up with effective police tactics to address a gunman holed up in another person’s house.

And what do the police have to say to explain the destruction?

“Well, we did what we had to do.”

That’s it?  Nothing along the lines of an actual explanation?  Then again, why bother. It’s not as if they could offer any rational justification for destroying the house in the process, and to the extent anything they say would suffice to stem the inanity of their actions, something meaningless like this will play with the ignorant. Anyone expecting a more substantive answer was going to walk away dissatisfied regardless.

And if it wasn’t unpleasant enough to Lech, his neighbor didn’t walk away unscathed either.

Meanwhile, a neighbor said the SWAT team used his home as a base and managed to destroy their windshield after using explosives.

Of course, the neighbor had nothing to do with this situation either, except for the misfortune of living next door to the random house entered by the gun-toting shoplifter.  What was he to do when the SWAT team commandeered his home as their base? SWAT teams are hard to argue with, Third Amendment notwithstanding.  And no, this was not quartering, though there is a “Takings Clause” issue for the neighbor.

And for the inevitable wag who says, “Meh, he’s got insurance. What’s the big deal?”  Aside from being rendered homeless, the situation isn’t so easily resolved.

The home is insured, by Safeco Insurance, for $260,000, Lech said. The claim is being reviewed, and a clause about damage caused by “government agencies” may void coverage, he said.

Safeco could not be reached for comment Friday.

Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, said the claim likely will be covered.

She likened it to a kitchen fire, in which firefighters cause water damage to douse a fire.

“In any claim, there is a claims adjustor, and they will do their own investigation,” Walker said. “Insurance will look at it on a case-by-case basis.”

But according to Lech, contends aren’t insured, and Walker’s “likely” and analogy to a kitchen fire leave a gaping hole in the argument. This was not about water damage caused by fire, an anticipated, common loss event, but a deliberate government action with the precipitating event being the random entry by Seacat. Insurance anticipates that fires will happen. Insurance does not anticipate the a SWAT team will destroy a house because they are incapable of handling a situation without destroying a house.

And what about the Village’s liability for the damage caused by its SWAT team’s excesses?

Greenwood Village also has contacted its insurance agency about the incident, said Matt Cohrs, assistant to the city manager. He described the home as a crime scene.

“We have already begun working with our insurance carrier,” Cohrs said.

Both parties — the city and homeowner — should be working with insurers, Cohrs said.

Of course, both parties are not in the same situation. One caused the damage. The other suffered it.  But the good news is that no one was killed, and that is, indeed, good news.  Just not good enough to Leo Lech, and with good reason.

10 thoughts on “Property Rights and Wrongs

  1. Fubar

    From the Denver Post news report:

    Lech said Police Chief John Jackson told him: ” ‘Well, we did what we had to do.’ “

    From a discarded draft of a press release by an unnamed Public Information Officer:

    The public’s too touchy these days,
    So bad press sets opinion ablaze.
    This wasn’t a goof.
    It is absolute proof
    We aren’t trained just to can mayonaise!

  2. anonymous coward

    Typical “warrior cop” mentality, go full Stalingrad because surrounding the house and talking him out isn’t manly enough.Also typical entitled cop BS explanation.

  3. Gary gagnon

    If they had had access to a drone and a Hellfire missile I’m sure they would have used it. Remember the Cops who bombed and set fire to whole city block to evict a group of smelly people.

  4. John Barleycorn

    You do know that you have to check off on not paying for the extra premiums that would cover acts of terrorism these days don’t you?

    It there is a God this incident will spawn a grinding insurance case that will land in front of Roberts, just about the time he decides to grow a mustache, and his fellow supremes.

    I can’t wait to hear the arguments.

  5. Village Idiot

    My God Greenwood Village PD. Caddyshack was just a silly movie, not a damn training video.

    1. SHG Post author

      I loved Caddyshack. Then again, I’m currently trying to rid my place of gophers, so go figure.

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