After a SWAT team wrecked an innocent woman’s house, the city of McKinney, Texas essentially told her “tough luck” and refused to compensate her. In a case that could have nationwide property rights implications, a federal jury on Wednesday awarded her $59,656.59 in damages—and more may be coming.
The jury award follows an April 29 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Amos Mazzant III that the city’s “intentional and foreseeable” destruction of Vicki Baker’s house constituted a government “taking” that compelled the city to pay just compensation.
“Everyone agrees with the general proposition that the government has to pay for the property it takes, but courts across the country had held that this rule just did not apply to the police. But the police are part of the government, which this victory makes abundantly clear.”
It all started in July 2020, when a fugitive took shelter in Baker’s suburban Dallas home, which had just gone under contract for sale after she’d renovated it. Baker, who had recently beaten cancer and was retiring to Montana, notified police and a standoff ensued.
Eventually, McKinney police decided to attack the house with a BearCat armored vehicle, breaking windows and their frames, destroying the garage door, leveling the backyard fence, knocking down the front door, and firing approximately 30 tear gas containers into the home, which broke drywall. Baker’s daughter’s dog was blinded and deafened in the attack. When police entered, they found the fugitive had already committed suicide.