FILE - 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Outside the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo.

Attorneys representing a family whose Greenwood Village, Colo., home was destroyed by law enforcement searching for an armed fugitive have asked a federal court to rehear the case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled last month that the government wasn’t required to compensate Leo Lech and his family, whose home – then inhabited by their son – was destroyed by law enforcement in 2015 after an armed man suspected of shoplifting from a nearby store broke into the home while fleeing police. 

The city’s SWAT unit used a battering ram and explosives to enter the home and apprehend the fugitive, but the house was totaled in the process. 

“When a state acts pursuant to its police power, rather than the power of eminent domain, its actions do not constitute a taking,” the court said. 

But the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public interest law firm, is asking the court to hold a rehearing in the Lech family’s case. The group, along with Colorado attorney Rachel Maxam, argues that the family should be compensated for the damage caused by law enforcement.

“If the government requires a piece of property to be destroyed, then the government should pay for it – and that’s just as true regardless of whether the people doing the destroying are the local school board or the local police,” Institute for Justice attorney Jeffrey Redfern said in a statement Monday.

Lech’s family initially was offered $5,000 to help cover insurance costs, but the family maintains the actual costs of the damages is much more.  

“This whole affair has quite simply totally destroyed our lives,” Leo Lech said, according to the Institute for Justice’s statement. “My son’s family was very literally thrown out into the street with the clothes on their back, offered $5,000, and told to ‘go deal with it.’”

Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News. He’s also an editor at The Daily Caller.