A SWAT team destroyed an innocent woman’s house after a fugitive barricaded himself inside. Last week a federal court ruled that she can sue the government for damages.
In July 2020, Wesley Little—who Vicki Baker had terminated as her handyman about a year and a half prior—arrived at Baker’s home in McKinney, Texas. Baker’s daughter answered. Recognizing him from news reports that he was wanted for the abduction of a 15-year-old girl, she left the premises and called the police.
SWAT agents soon arrived. They set off explosives to open the garage entryway, detonated tear gas grenades inside the building, ran over Baker’s fence with an armored vehicle, and ripped off her front door, despite being given a garage door opener, a code to the back gate, and a key to the home. The house was unlivable when they were through.
She sued. So the city asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
“In its pursuit of the fugitive and pursuant to its police powers, Baker alleges the City caused significant economic damage—over $50,000—to her home. Then, the City refused to compensate her for the damage,” writes Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. “Baker has alleged damage to her private property—and the City’s refusal to compensate for such damage—that plausibly amounts to a Fifth Amendment violation.”