A federal judge has ruled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a former McKinney homeowner whose home was damaged during a SWAT standoff can move forward.
Vicki Baker sued the city of McKinney earlier this year.
She says her home sustained upwards of $80,000 in damages when a fugitive chose her home to hide in July 2020.
Baker says she’d hired the fugitive, Wesley Little, to do odd jobs around the property. She says the last time she saw him was in May 2019.
Baker believes Little may have sought out her home to hide because it was for sale and empty.
But Baker’s daughter, Deanna, was still staying there and says Little showed up at the door asking to park his car in the garage.
Deanna said she’d just seen on social media that Little was wanted for possibly abducting a 15-year-old girl whom she believed was with Little when he showed up at the door.
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Deanna allowed Little inside but said she had to go to the store. When she left, she contacted the police and her mom.
The girl was eventually released unharmed but the standoff with Little lasted hours.
“He told them I'm not coming out alive,” Baker said.
She says police fired dozens of explosive tear gas canisters into the home and used a Bearcat, “essentially a tank,” to break down the backyard fence, before storming in to find Little committed suicide.
After filing an insurance claim, and after companies who saw her story stepped in to help, Baker says she was still stuck paying tens of thousands of dollars for repairs.
“Out of pocket I had probably had $45-55,000,” Baker said.
She says she paid by maxing out credit cards and dipping into her retirement.
She says the city of McKinney refused to pay.
“I said, ‘But this was way over the top, they used 30 tear gas canisters on 1,900 square foot house, single story, and you know, why 30?’. She said, ‘Well it’s called shock and awe,'” Baker recalled.
Baker repaired the house and sold it months later.
But the story still isn’t over.
Months later, she says she received a call from Jeffrey Redfern, an attorney with the Virginia-based nonprofit Institute for Justice.
“This is not about punishing the police or city for doing anything wrong,” Redfern told NBC 5. “This is something that we as a society should be taking care of, not just dumping the burden on some unlucky individual.”
In March, Redfern filed a lawsuit against the city arguing, "Both the United States and Texas Constitutions require the government to compensate the property owner for that damage."
The city filed a motion to dismiss the suit - citing dozens of previous cases - but last month, a federal judge denied the request meaning Baker's case can move forward.
“That's the first time a federal court has come out on the other side of some of these bad decisions,” Redfern said.
Baker says she hopes her case sets a new precedent, so homeowners don't go through what she is.
In a statement, the city of McKinney said: "The city does not comment on litigation matters, and it will vigorously defend the actions of our officers."
A judge will now decide whether the city is liable for damages.