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SWAT Team Destroys Innocent Family’s Home Looking for Unarmed Homeless Man

FRESNO, Calif. (CN) – A married couple claim Fresno sheriff’s officers destroyed their house by using it as a training ground for a teargas-wielding SWAT team, 50 vehicles, two helicopters, a K-9 unit and a fire truck — because an unarmed homeless man had been found in their closet.

David and Gretchen Jessen sued Fresno County and the City of Clovis on March 8 in Fresno County Court. They say the unconstitutional assault on their home was “excessive, unreasonable, violent, destructive … intrusive … unnecessary and unreasonable.”

The Jessens, who are farmers, say in their complaint that the sheriff and police used their house as a military battleground “because the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department and/or Clovis Police Department had found, by accident, the perfect location to conduct a training exercise on a rural home, on a dead-end street, in rural Fresno County, where ‘civilians’ were not present, ‘civilians’ were not going to congregate, ‘civilians’ were not going to observe or interfere with the military training assault on the Jessens’ home and the situation posed no risk of injury to the officers.”

In the lengthy complaint, David Jessen says it all started on June 11, 2016, when sheriff’s officers called him and said his house may have been broken into. He called his wife to tell her, then drove home and found four patrol cars in front of the house and officers scattered around the perimeter. One held a bullhorn and was yelling “come out,” and “hands up.”

An officer told Jessen that a homeless man had broken into his house after construction workers had kicked him out of a vacant house nearby. When asked if there were guns inside, Jessen said he had two unloaded shotguns and a loaded .357 magnum, all of them hidden so well that only he could find them.

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The officer told Jessen the man had threatened to shoot anyone who came inside and asked him and his family, who had just arrived, to wait elsewhere. After taking his family to a friend’s house 10 minutes away, Jessen drove back to unload some farm equipment and found law enforcement cars lining the road to his house for a quarter of a mile, plus two ambulances, a fire truck, and two helicopters circling above.

“Bewildered and baffled” at the show of force, Jessen says, he drove away and was passed by a SWAT vehicle and a crisis negotiation motor home heading toward his house.

Several hours later, deputies told him he could go back home. On the way there, Jessen counted at least 55 law enforcement vehicles. After parking and walking to his house, a SWAT officer told him the “operation” was concluded, and a second officer handed him a card and said “‘we have insurance for this.’”

Jessen says he had no idea what the officers meant until he went inside and found his home destroyed. Officers had ripped out the wrought iron doors to their home office and laundry rooms, pulled the office wall off the foundation, teargased six rooms, flash-bombed two of them, shattered a sliding glass door, broken seven windows and destroyed more than 90 feet of fencing with a SWAT vehicle.

“The magnitude of the damage to the Jessens’ home was unreasonable and unjustified, needlessly implemented to capture a single, surrounded, unarmed, hungry homeless person who posed no danger to anyone,” the complaint states.

In fact, the only things the homeless person stole were an ice cream bar, some milk, and half a tomato, according to the complaint. The Jessens say the cops could have arrested the man with a single K-9 team. But due to the excessive use of teargas, they had to gut the home, remove all the carpet and drywall, and can no longer live there. The costs of damages exceed $150,000.

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Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department said the department declined comment.

The Clovis Police Department did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

The Jessens seek compensatory and special damages, court costs and attorney fees.

They are represented by C. Russell Georgeson, with Georgeson and Belardinelli, in Fresno.

  • Does home insurance cover ‘destruction by law enforcement’?

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      Probably not – it should be THEIR insurance that covers the damage. Why should someone’s homeowner’s policy go up because a bunch of cops wanted to play Rambo?

      • usually Law enforcement is not ever responsible for damages …………..since a person was apprehended I doubt the cops will be held accountable for the damages since they have privileged immunity from prosecution .

        • Anonymous

          After parking and walking to his house, a SWAT officer told him the “operation” was concluded, and a second officer handed him a card and said “‘we have insurance for this.’”

          • cops lie all the time if they had insurance why the need for a lawsuit?

          • Anonymous

            Maybe the insurance said to sue? We are not privy to what, if any, conversation occurred between the victim and the insurance company.

          • Eudora Perry

            Keeping ice cream bars, milk and half tomatoes SAFE EVERYWHERE in Fresno by making a proper arrest… Oh, and finally it’s the taxpayers of Fresno footing the bill, lest we forget.

      • Sillywilly

        Usually, one claim against a homeowners insurance policy and they will cancel you and you wont be able to get another company to insure you…its pretty common actually. I’ve even read cases where a previous tenant of your property may have filed a claim and that in itself will be grounds for denying you insurance…boggles the mind doesn’t it. In this case I would suspect the homeowners insurance company would laugh them right out of the office.

  • Daryl Kwas

    Are there any pictures? I would think a story like this would include a few pictures to review the damage.

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  • “a second officer handed him a card and said “‘we have insurance for this”

    The fine print says “Any damage caused by actions of the SWAT team are considered to be “An act of God” by Swat team insurance adjusters when considering claims.”

  • Rogue cops cost us money

    A little too much escalation for the situation I think. Duh……The Dumb Fucks …….

  • Guy

    Anybody that lives in Fresno or the surrounding area, knows that the County and City Police Departments are all a bunch freaking idiots, not worth their salt ! They have been pulling this sort of BS for years and getting away with it, even to the point of justifying murder ! Last time I drove down to that area, I spent 45 minutes and and extra 25 miles, just to go around it, just to avoid any potential of meeting up with these numb nuts !

  • Mother Earth

    Yeeehah’, we got a varmint penned up down the road and we’re gunna have a wind ding time, don’t forget to pack the cooker and tell hank the tomato sauce is free, I’ll stop off and get some more rounds. It seems to be a big event when some poor unexpected Samaritan accidently drives in their pathway or looks at them the wrong way they pull out their guns and call for back up. I wonder if their are more good cops than bad I would be only kidding myself.

  • JayGoldenBeach

    I guess since white people have a high collective tolerance for this kind of police violence and property damage, this is one big reason these crazy SWAT callouts have become so frequent – white people will generally side with the police even when cops raid a wrong address and/or shoot/kill totally innocent residents!

    • Sallie Dodd Butters

      You’re one REALLY dumb schmuck!

      • Sergio of the Jungle

        They’re there to keep you safe, right Sallie?

  • Guy

    I live in Brentwood CA, and had an abandoned house next door for years. One day I heard all sorts of banging and went to investigate it. Turns out, the local SWAT was using it to practice assault entry and hostage rescue. They accidently set it on fire with flash bang grenades, and stunk up the neighborhood with tear gas. The numbnuts, didn’t even bother with telling us about it, untill they were blowing it up ! After, I went through the house and found *Live Flash Bang Granids* and unexploded Tear Gas Hand Grenades ! I still have em as souvenirs !