The Cops Were Chasing a Shoplifter And They Ended Up Destroying an Innocent Man’s Home.

Leo Lech owns a property parcel at 4219 South Alton Street in Greenwood Village, a sleepy suburban enclave tucked between Denver’s bustling Tech Center and the scenic reservoir of Cherry Creek State Park. His quarter-acre plot rests near the end of a quaint cul-de-sac that fits every idyllic American stereotype: two-car garages, well-manicured lawns, the stars and stripes waving in front of each home.

While most houses on this block were built in the 1970s, Lech’s is brand new: It received a certificate of occupancy in August after two years of construction.

It isn’t the first building to have occupied the lot.

Over the course of June 3 and 4, 2015, a devastating police raid systematically destroyed Lech’s old home. The cops were responding to a crime that Lech had nothing to do with: A suspected shoplifter had barricaded himself inside the house after a chase, sparking a 19-hour standoff with a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. Unleashing a display of force commonly reserved for the battlefield, the tactical team bombarded the building with high-caliber rifles, chemical agents, flash-bang grenades, remote-controlled robots, armored vehicles, and breaching rams—all to extract a petty thief with a handgun.

When it was over, Lech’s house was completely unlivable. The City of Greenwood Village condemned it, forcing Lech to topple the wrecked structure. Making matters worse, the municipality refused to pay fair market value for the destruction.

Now Lech is suing for compensation. The outcome of his case may bring clarity to the property rights of Americans living in the shadow of police militarization.

The Destruction

The story starts in a Walmart parking lot. At 1:22 p.m. on June 3, Aurora police officer John Reiter was dispatched to the store after a security camera caught a man stealing a shirt and two belts. The official police affidavit described the thief as “a white male approximately in his thirties, 6’5″ with a muscular build, short blond hair, clean shaven and lots of tattoos on his arms and shoulders”; he was wearing blue jean shorts and a red backpack. His name was Robert Jonathan Seacat.

Seacat ran to his gold-colored 1999 Lexus. As he was fleeing the scene, he nearly assaulted Reiter with the vehicle. The car was later discovered abandoned at a light rail station less than a mile away. Police found drugs, brass knuckles, and some cash inside the trunk.

In the ensuing pursuit, Seacat—now on foot—crossed a pedestrian bridge, a fence, one of Denver’s busiest highways, another fence, and Village Greens Park, which backs up directly to the 4200 block of South Alton Street. The suspect broke into Lech’s property by entering through the back door, tripping one alarm. While inside, he attempted to open the garage door, tripping a second alarm. At 1:54, the City of Greenwood Village Police received a report that the alarms had gone off.

The house was rented at the time to John Lech (Leo’s son), Anna Mumzhiyan (John’s girlfriend), and Anna’s 9-year-old son. At the time of the incident, the boy was alone in the home while Anna was out running errands. The Greenwood Village cops called Anna, who informed the police that her son was inside. The frightened boy quickly managed to escape unharmed and was reunited with his mother by 2:17.

For full story visit: http://reason.com/archives/2017/11/19/the-cops-were-chasing-a-shopli

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 3374 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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