Homeowner Vows to Appeal Appeals Court Ruling Denying Compensation for SWAT Team Destruction of Property

Vicki Baker’s home was destroyed by a SWAT team in July 2020 while they were in pursuit of an armed fugitive.

Baker was not home at the time, but her daughter, Deanna Cook, was. Cook let the fugitive into the house and then left to go to the store.

She called her mother and the police, who arrived at the property and surrounded it.

The fugitive took his own life, and the SWAT team stormed the house, using “highly destructive tactics.”

Extensive Damage

The damage to Baker’s home was extensive.

Every window needed to be replaced, and a hazmat remediation team had to clean the entire house because of the tear gas.

Appliances were destroyed, and the front door and garage door needed to be replaced.

Tear gas canisters had smashed through the drywall, and carpets, blinds, and ceiling fans needed to be replaced.

The damage totaled at least $50,000.

Insurance Policy Excluded Damages Caused by Government

Baker’s insurance policy excluded damages caused by the government, so she attempted to file a property damage claim with the city.

The city refused to pay out, so Baker sued. A federal judge sided with Baker, and a jury awarded her $59,656.59 in damages.

The city appealed the decision, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the previous ruling.

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of City

The appeals court ruled that the city was not required to compensate Baker for the damage to her home because the SWAT team’s actions were necessary to prevent imminent harm to persons.

The Institute for Justice is asking the courts to re-hear the case, and they are planning an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Baker Will Be Paid for Her Troubles Eventually

According to her lawyer, Jeffrey Redfern, Baker will be paid for her troubles eventually after winning her court case under the U.S. Constitution.

The appeals court’s reversal only applies to her Fifth Amendment claim, which says that private property shall not “be taken for public use, without just compensation.”