‘Shock and Awe’ used in small towns

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.


  1. sowa says

    This situation sounds like something straight out of American cop comedy. Petty thief barricades in a house and after hilariously clumsy attempts to arrest him police decides to go full “America FUCK YEAH!” on his ass. After succesful action cops receive praise from media and even medals from mayor for their heroic deed which is contrasted with an image of houseowner standing in ruins of his home, completely dumbfounded.

  2. says

    @Chigau, No. 5

    Better you should ask: Why do you (White Americans—the majority of whom voted for President Donald John Trump) put up with this?

    My answer is that people who applaud these events (and those who stockpile weapons and ammo) are terrified of a mythical race war on the horizon.

    I, for one, continue to rail against this idiocy in the hope that others will join me.

    This has been building for decades and was even, briefly, the subject of ridicule in a popular television series—Hill Street Blues—featuring the comical Lt. Howard Hunter.


  3. jrkrideau says

    @ 7 Dunc
    I expect if he had added a pair of pants to the haul they would have called for an air strike from the Department Apache attack helicopter. Of course, the Baltimore barrel bombing attack many years ago was not a great success.

    This is the Monty Python police department in action.

    Re armament available, etc.
    I think the Canadian Forces are envious!

    I was struck by the number of officers. Fifty SWAT officers in a town of 14,000? I live in a small city of ≈ 120,000 and we have roughly 200 sworn officers.

    Where the hell do you get 50 SWAT officers from? I imagine most towns around here of 14,000 don’t have 50 officers, heck I’d be surprised, though possibly mistaken, if they had over 10 or 15.

  4. jrkrideau says

    @ 9 colinday
    I’d considered that but it seemed like such a ridiculous thought that I dismissed it. Perhaps I should not have given the rest of the insanity.

    I suppose it is a plus that they did not call out the National Guard.

  5. jrkrideau says

    @11 WMDKitty — Survivor

    It does occur to me that this could mean a lot of triple-overtime and hazard duty pay for those called out. This might account for the large turnout.

    Plus it is a chance to play with all those neat toys that one usually only gets to play with in an action game.

  6. Ichthyic says

    “Why do you (Americans) put up with this?”

    some of us got tired of it long ago, along with asking that very question in fact, and left.

    We heard the “America! Love it or leave it!” and chose the latter, since nobody offered “change it” as part of that.

  7. chigau (違う) says

    Ichthyic #13

    We heard the “America! Love it or leave it!” and chose the latter, since nobody offered “change it” as part of that.

    That is true and very sad.

  8. machintelligence says

    Lofty @3
    “The police are definitely NOT here to protect you, non-rich person.”
    Very few non-rich people live in Greenwood Village CO.
    Not that his homeowner deserved what happened.

  9. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Why do you (Americans) put up with this?

    Several reasons.

    Racism certainly.

    Many Americans have also bought the lie that the police are this thin blue line that protects us from criminals, and it’s an ongoing war, and even the slightest restraint on police power will mean that society will descend into complete anarchy as criminals run amok. It’s asinine, I know, but that’s what they believe.

    Also the strong authoritarian bent in many Americans. They wrongly believe that the police and government prosecutors are fair and honest people who only catch “bad guys”. PS: “bad guys” often means “people of color” -- see racism above.

    And just lots of ignorance. Many Americans think this is the exception, and not the norm. Too many Americans just don’t know how exceptionally bad it is in the norm.

    I suppose it is a plus that they did not call out the National Guard.

    I’m betting that the national guard would have done a better job because of possible training for handling insurgencies and “winning hearts and minds” -- training and rules of engagement which the police are lacking.

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