Police were pursuing an armed person who had allegedly shoplifted some merchandise from a wal-mart. The alleged shoplifter took refuge in a private home and a police standoff followed. Over the course of 19 hours, the police SWAT team “fired gas munition and 40-millimeter rounds through the windows, drove an armored vehicle through the doors, tossed flash-bang grenades inside and used explosives to blow out the walls,” according to a Washington Post article. By the time the police were done with the home, it had to be demolished. You can see why in the picture above.
The homeowner sued the city arguing that his constitutional rights had been violated. He argued that he was entitled to compensation under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Takings Clause states that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The trial court rejected the homeowner’s argument and found for the city. The homeowner appealed, and the appellate court also found in favor of the city. In the end, the homeowner ended up spending nearly $400,000 to rebuild his home that was destroyed by the police.
Who do the police work for if they have no obligation to protect people, and they can destroy private property without consequence?