Despite her telling the cops to not destroy her property, they fired 30 tear gas canisters and blew up her garage door.
Vicki Baker was all set to sell her home when SWAT officers raided her home during a standoff, destroying the property. Not only did the sale of her property fall through, but she was also charged $50,000 for the damages caused by the McKinney cops. Vicki Baker, who was relying on the sale of her property had nothing to do with the standoff. An armed fugitive hid in her home in McKinney, Texas, along with a 15-year-old girl, with who he had claimed to have "run-off." The teenager managed to escape the home, but when the cops stormed the house, the fugitive killed himself, reported Vice. While the incident became the talk of the town and the cops were lauded for saving the teenager, Vicki Baker, through no fault of her own, had her home destroyed. Baker's daughter’s dog, which came running out of the home during the stand-off, ended up nearly blind and completely deaf.
It all started after Baker's daughter Deanna spotted a Facebook post from a woman who claimed a man named Wesley Little “had run off with her fifteen-year-old daughter." Deanna, who was preparing the home for sale, knew Little having hired him before to do odd jobs at their home in 2018. He was let go at the time because he made Baker's children uncomfortable. On July 25, the same day Deanna had seen the post, Little showed up with the girl and told Deanna he needed a place to stay and park his car. Deanna walked away from the home, called her mother, Baker, and the pair alerted the McKinney police of the situation. Deanna gave cops a code to enter the home and the garage door opener so they wouldn't have to damage the property while trying to rescue the child. They used gas canisters and caused significant damage to the property. The teenager walked out unarmed but told the cops Little was armed and didn't intend to get out alive. Little died by suicide inside Baker's home.
Vicki Baker is now suing the city of McKinney over the damages and states that there have been multiple incidents where cops have gotten away with damaging private property, in many cases excessively, leaving property owners like Baker ruing their ill luck. Baker had specifically told McKinney cops to "not destroy the property" as they prepared to extract the fugitive and the teenager. The cops paid no heed and fired 30 tear gas canisters into her property while trying to capture the fugitive. They also blew up her garage door and drove an armored vehicle over her fence.
Baker wasn't in Texas on the day of the standoff but she knew the chances of her property being sold now was zero. “There was two days that I couldn’t get off the couch, that I cried,” said Baker. She had needed the money from the sale to fund her retirement, but the sale fell through because of the damage. The city of McKinney refused to recover her costs claiming it was collateral damage for preserving public safety. Baker suffered damages worth $50,000. Her insurance company also turned their back on her, promising to only pay her cleaning the blood after Little killed himself.
She is suing the city after learning that there were many other innocent people who found themself in a similar predicament. None of them had been compensated. Baker is now suing the city for damages, with the help of the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm. “What I want is justice for everybody that this happens to,” said Baker. According to Baker’s lawsuit with the Institute for Justice, she claims that the "government is supposed to pay up for the damage it’s caused, even if that destruction is the result of something good — like trying to arrest a fugitive". Under the takings clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, private property can’t be taken for public use without “just compensation.” Texas’ constitution similarly calls for “adequate compensation” if a person’s private property is taken, damaged, or destroyed during public use, the lawsuit notes.
Jeffrey Redfern, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, who's working on the case said the government needs to compensate for intentional and excessive charges. “It’s not about wrongdoing on the police's part. It’s certainly not about holding any individual police officers liable. It’s just about what burdens should be born by the public, and what burdens should be born by random unlucky individuals,” said Redfern. Daniel Woislaw, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, said there's no incentive for cops to exercise any restraint during such operations. Baker has been helped by the local community who has donated cash and building materials but it is still a long way before she can cover her costs. She did eventually managed to sell the home for $10,000 below the asking price.