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A Swat Team Tore This Woman’s House Down and Left Her With a $50,000 Bill

An ordeal no one wants to go through…

Credit: Institute For Justice/YouTube

Her garage door had been blown open by the police, her house full of tear gas canisters, and an armoured vehicle drove straight over her fence.

It’s not a situation anyone would imagine they’d find themselves in, but this was the mind-blowing situation for Vicki Baker. An armed fugitive held a 15-year-old girl hostage inside Baker’s home, whilst she pleaded with police to do everything they could, except destroying her home.

Texan police had an hour-long standoff with the man before SWAT officers obliterated parts of Baker’s home with armoured vehicles and tear gas canisters.

Thankfully, the teenager managed to get themselves out safely, but by the time police had arrived at the home, the fugitive had killed himself in Baker’s bedroom. Baker’s dog was left deaf and blind after the incident, and several sentimental possessions were ruined.

Baker herself was not even in the state at the time of the incident but has still suffered the consequences of the polices’ actions.

She had also just recently signed a contract for the house to be sold. The money was to fund her retirement, but the substantial damage to the house saw the sale, unfortunately, fall through.

The 76-year-old found out afterward, that in McKinney, Texas, the city does not have to help her out financially in this kind of situation. Baker’s insurance provider would not cover any damage caused by the government either. This left her with an eye-watering bill of near $50,000 in damages.

Baker soon realised that she was not the only person to find herself in such unique circumstances. Others in America had also seen their homes unjustly damaged by police, with nothing to show in compensation. To try and salvage the situation, Baker is now suing the city of McKinney. Her case is being assisted by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm.

In the state of Colorado in 2015, police blew up a man’s home whilst trying to get a suspected armed shoplifter, despite the shoplifter having no connection to the man. Over four years later, the federal appeals court ruled against the owner, meaning no compensation was to be awarded for the damages. Police were considered to be acting within public safety. The Institute for Justice petitioned the Supreme Court to review the case, a case the high court declined last June.

The government is supposed to pay up for the damage it’s caused, even if that destruction is the result of something good—like trying to arrest a fugitive, according to Baker’s lawsuit with the Institute for Justice. Under the takings clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, private property can’t be taken for public use without “just compensation.” Texas’ constitution similarly calls for “adequate compensation” if a person’s private property is taken, damaged, or destroyed during public use, the lawsuit notes.

Yet smaller, more localised courts have invented an exception to the clause – destruction caused by the police, according to Baker’s lawyer, Jeffrey Redfern. He claims this interpretation is wrong, as international damage caused by the government is compensable. 

“It’s not about wrongdoing on the police’s part. It’s certainly not about holding any individual police officers liable. It’s just about what burdens should be born by the public, and what burdens should be born by random unlucky individuals,” Redfern added.

Daniel Woislaw however, a lawyer who isn’t involved in Baker’s case, claims that if the government aren’t seen to be liable for damages, then why would a second thought be given before smashing up someone’s home. 

“The incentive structure that’s created when the government is not accountable for destroying or taking private property is they’re going to do that more, they’re going to be more destructive, they’re going to use more military equipment,” Woislaw said. 

The city attorney for McKinney refused to comment on Baker’s individual case, and said it will vigorously defend the actions of its officers.

Another case involving police damaging property was in Baltimore last August. Police tore apart a home during a standoff with the owner’s neighbour. The local city council person told WBFF, a Fox affiliate, that the police damages should be covered, in special circumstances. The government in this instance, would not foot the Bill for repairs.

On the night of the destruction, Baker’s daughter Deanna saw on Facebook that a man named Wesley Little “had run off with a fifteen-year-old girl,” according to a lawsuit. Deanna recognised him as someone who the family had hired to do some jobs around the home back in 2018, but let him go after he made the children feel uneasy.

Later that same day, Little showed up at the home with the girl and told Deanna he needed a place to stay and park his car. Deanna called her mother and the police. She gave police a code to enter the home and the garage door opener.

The teenager was thankfully let go unharmed but told police that Little did not intend to come out alive, and was heavily armed.

The full extent of the damage caused was not known until the next day when Deanna visited and found that Little had killed himself.

“She videoed the room, and you can hear her gasping as she’s going through there,” Baker said. It was apparent that the sale of the home wasn’t going to go through.

Baker has always denied that she is not against the police. What she is against, is the way they entered her home, and the way they treated it. Deanna had provided them with the code for the garage, but they still made the decision to blow it up anyway.

Baker’s insurance provider will only cover the cost of cleaning up blood from the suicide. The city said it was not liable for the damage. To cover the costs, Baker has had to max her credit card and borrow from her retirement savings to repair the property. The local community pulled together and donated cash and building materials in an attempt to get it back in order.

Thankfully, Baker was able to sell her home in December 2020. Due to the ordeal and the potential that the incident could spook buyers, she accepted an offer of $10,000 below the asking price. 

“I knew there had to be a purpose behind it all,” Baker said. “I have complete faith in God’s judgment and God’s timing. There’s a reason for this lawsuit, and I don’t think it’s for me. I think it’s for others.”

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