We are drearily familiar with the police in the US using excessive force to deal with even the most routine and non-violent situations. So on one level, this news item, about a 50 SWAT officers invading a home in 2015 in search of a suspect Robert Jonathan Seacat who had broken into the home to hide while being chased by police, was not a surprise.
Leo Lech lost his home in June 2015, after police launched a 19-hour standoff that included the use of armored vehicles, breaching rams, high-caliber rifles, chemical agents, flash-bang grenades and remote-controlled robots.
According to a report from the Denver Post, officers claimed that when they entered the home, “Seacat, who was on an upper floor, fired four or five shots through the floor at officers below.” Police decided to respond to one man barricaded in a home and armed with a handgun by employing 50 SWAT officers and a host of expensive technology, destroying the majority of the home, before they found their suspect in a bathroom and arrested him.
The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) described the strategy used by the SWAT officers as “calculated destruction,” in which they launched explosives throughout the house, room-by-room, in order to isolate Seacat.
Here is what the house looked like after they were done.
What did surprise me was that Seacat’s crime was shoplifting a shirt and two belts from a store. All this destruction just for stolen merchandise worth about $50 or less? And now the city has offered the owner of the destroyed home just $5,000 in compensation. He is suing the city for more. Also surprising is that all this firepower is available for a small town like Greenwood Village, CO, that has a population of just 14,000 people.
You can see video of the damage in this news report from a local TV station.
You can read more in this detailed account by Jay Stooksberry, who also looks at what is involved in the legal case brought by Lech.