by Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project:
McKinney, TX — In July of last year, Vicki Baker, 75, was excited to move on to the next chapter of her life in Montana by selling her home she owned for 12 years in McKinney, Texas. That sale would never take place on schedule, however, because the day before she was supposed to close, a SWAT team destroyed it.
After destroying her home, Baker was told by local government that she was on the hook for the $50,000 bill to repair it. After fighting for a year, however, she may finally see some justice after a federal court ruled this month that Baker can sue for damages and get back some of the money it took her to undo the destruction caused by the cops.
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“The court recognized that the city of McKinney is not exempt from the Constitution,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Jeffrey Redfern. “This is the first step towards Vicki getting her due, but it’s a big one. The government must compensate individuals when it deliberately destroys their property.”
“At the motion to dismiss stage, it would be imprudent to foreclose Baker’s ability to recover based on the shaky reasoning recited in non-binding cases from other circuits—especially when both the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court have alluded that a taking could result from destructive police power,” United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Judge Amos Mazzant III wrote in the decision to throw out the city’s motion to dismiss the case.
Baker’s nightmare started when she was out of town on July 25, 2020. Her daughter was home when a distraught construction worker — who had worked on the home before — decided to invade. Wesley Little, 50, had holed up in the home along with a 15-year-old girl he had abducted. When he came in the home, Vicki Baker’s daughter ran out, calling police in the process.
When police were contacted, Vicki asked them not destroy the home as she was closing on it the very next day. But they did not listen.
During the standoff, SWAT officers shot approximately 30 tear gas canisters into Baker’s property, blew up her garage door, and drove an armored vehicle over her fence.
Baker claims, and rightfully so, that cops went overboard on the damage they caused, completely disregarding any measures that could’ve limited the destruction to her home. For example, cops blew up her garage door to gain entry, despite being given a garage door opener.
As the Institute for Justice reports, the incident left Vicki in shock, too. When the smoke cleared, the home—which her daughter was living in and which was under contract to sell—was uninhabitable. The only living thing that survived the raid was her daughter’s dog, which was left deaf and blind from the explosions.
Though, Baker was in shock at the damage inflicted on her property, she took temporary solace in the fact that she didn’t cause the damage, so she wouldn’t be liable for it. Unfortunately, the comfort was short lived.
When she sought out compensation for the damage to her home, the city of McKinney and her homeowner’s insurance company told her that police had “immunity” and wouldn’t pay for a dime of the damage. A few days later, the buyer walked away and the sale fell through, according to IJ.
Vicki would go on to max out her credit cards to repair the damage — which was over $50,000 — in order to sell the house in the winter. However, the sale was for far less money than the original contract back in July.