Destroying a House To Save It: Colorado Police Under Fire After Destroying Home To Capture Armed Walmart Shoplifter

z-2Colorado police in Greenwood Village seem to follow the same approach to home invasion as the major at the battle of for the South Vietnamese town of Ben Tre: “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” The logic however escaped Anna Mumzhiyan and her fiance John Lech. Police chased a shoplifter who was believed to be armed to their home. The Walmart shoplifter, Robert Seacat, (left) was met by a SWAT team including the most all-too-common armored cars. Not willing to wait him out, the police proceeded to punch holes through the walls of the home and plant explosives — destroying walls and leaving the home uninhabitable. They got their man and the homeowners got a collapsing wreck of a home. Police are still debating whether they are liable for the damage.

john.lech.anna.mumzhiyan.facebook.1Anna and John (right) are miffed that the police could not take a less militarized and extreme approach. Anna’s nine-year-old boy was in the home when Seacat ran in. The boy said that Seacat (who has drug-related warrants) did not threaten the boy and kept the gun down by his side. The boy said that Seacat told him “I don’t mean you any harm. I don’t want to harm anybody.” The boy was allowed to leave or escaped without resistance. Police therefore knew that Seacat was alone in the house.

No one would suggest that the police should put anyone at risk to avoid property damage. Indeed, one account said that Seacat fired his weapon through a garage door to keep officers at bay. There was good reason to send the SWAT team and there was good reason not to storm the house. However, this was also a shoplifter alone in a surrounded dwelling. Given the account of a possible gun, it was wise to try to wait him out but the police decided to destroy parts of the home after about 20 hours of a standoff.

The couple says that no one from the police or the city offered to help them. Rather, they told the media that “basically, they came in, they blew up the house, and they said, ‘Okay. See you.'”

After trying to use Seacat’s sister to get him out, the police used a “breaching ram,” robots, and flash bang grenades. They also cut off all of the power to the entire neighborhood.

I am unconvinced that police could not wait out Seacat but I am certainly willing to defer to their judgment. However, when it comes to the cost, I would think that the city is entirely on the hook for the damage and should have immediately put the family up in a hotel, particularly when they have a young child. Under the common law, “public champions” like fire fighters and police are not responsible for damage to private property but the modern approach is to allow for such compensation. Thus, it was common to destroy homes to create fire breaks and technically no compensation was required. Today compensation is generally given.

The case also raises a concern over the increasing militarization of police departments and the tendency to use paramilitary forces rather than simply wait out felons like Seacat. The fear is that with the availability of larger SWAT unites and armored vehicles, police are inclined to use the higher level of force.

What do you think?

Source: Westword

34 thoughts on “Destroying a House To Save It: Colorado Police Under Fire After Destroying Home To Capture Armed Walmart Shoplifter”

  1. LEO scumbags behaving like drunk frat brothers… gracious. This is absurd.

  2. Did he steal a package of tube socks from dollar tree? Or does anyone know what he was stealing? Or was he part of a big diamond heist? I can’t see what would merit such extreme measures.

  3. A 20 hour standoff with an armed subject in a residential neighborhood is a LONG time.
    I’d say that there was an attempt to wait him out.
    The question I have concerns the degree of damage when the SWAT team decided to end the standoff.
    I thought that flashbang grenades and perhaps teargas could be used without destroying a house, but I haven’t seen a discussion/explanation as to why a “scorched earth” assault on the house was warranted.

  4. I forgot who I was in a prior life in the South many years ago in the Jim Crow era. All those folks yelling StatesRights! and complaining because Joe Bob gets prosecuted for a lynching. Those folks hate Lincoln and all he stood for. They think we all would be better off had the South just seceded and kept the slave industry going today. That Lincoln sure was a demon to those who might forget.

  5. Abraham Lincoln criminally suspended Habeas Corpus after Chief Justice Taney stated that he, Lincoln had no authority to do so. Lincoln criminally denied secession to southern states; the very secession enjoyed by West Virginia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, all the states of the USSR and Scotland, which voted on secession last year. Lincoln’s actions were similar to a husband who brutally beats and holds hostage a wife he will not allow to divorce him.

    Lincoln went on to criminally and unconstitutionally invade a foreign country (states which had seceded) prosecute a, simultaneously, foreign and internecine war, confiscate private property and ratify amendments without a quorum, through coercion and imposing duress.

    Lincoln destroyed a house in order to “save” a house.

    Except Lincoln had no constitutional authority or, otherwise, legal basis and he should have been impeached, convicted prosecuted and executed for treason, insurrection, denial of constitutional rights, assault, battery, theft, property damage, vandalism, mayhem, mass murder and crimes against humanity, understanding that the penalty in contemporary England for treason was for the guilty party to be “drawn and quartered,” that Nathan Hale, as an excellent example, “had but one life to give for his country” being convicted of spying, and that the Lincoln assassination conspirators were all dead within three months of their crime. The law had teeth in those days.

    Lincoln acted as a cogent and resolute criminal deriving from illegitimate religious zeal and fanaticism.

    Lincoln’s wake produced the incremental nullification of the Preamble, Constitution and Bill of Rights and unconstitutional imposition of the principles of collectivism and communism that prevail to this day.

    Pennywise and pound foolish is apropos here.

    These local constables could have no adverse effect compared to the mass and persistent destruction of Abraham Lincoln.

  6. Paul – oh no! That’s awful!

    They had this discussion during the Dorner case, and I can’t recall how it was resolved. Are flash grenades supposed to be incendiary, or does that just happen if something goes wrong?

    1. Karen – my understanding is that the flash can ignite certain things, which happened in this case.

  7. Kelty,

    I was just about to post something about the Danby incident. Thanks for beating me to it…

    1. Kelty – this is not going to make anyone feel any better, but because our SWAT team does not get a lot of work, they went on a drug raid in another city. To gain access the police used flash-bangs. Two things went wrong. 1) It was the wrong house. 2) They set the house on fire and it was totally destroyed.

      My town is picking up part of the cost and the other city is picking up part of the cost. The family is being made as whole as possible. Big apologies were made by all.

  8. And fringe media & cops wonder why peeps across the nation are PO’d.

    This is another instance/example of cops gone wild. Every DAY there are more stories about this kind of over reaction, cops beating some one or some other story about cop abuse.

    Is there a national contest to find out which police agency can rack up the most abuse & pile up stats on that activity??

    Seems like each agency or local cop shop is trying to out do each other….looks like we have a new kinda ‘police Olympics’…


  9. Now I am going to have to check my Homeowner’s Insurance to see if it covers breaches by police.

  10. Well, I had to go to three places to find out how Homeowner Lech pronounces his name, and it rhymes with peck, not fetch. Sooo, I had a legal question about this incident, as expressed by an Irish Poem!!!

    License-ious Behavior???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    There was a home owner named Lech,
    Whose residence now looks like dreck!
    But, did anyone git,
    A building permit???
    Before they blew it all to heck???

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

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