The owner of a Duarte Road property significantly damaged by a local SWAT team during an armed standoff addressed the City Council Tuesday and questioned why her claim for more than $35,000 in damages was denied.
Opal Szany-Henderson filed a claim with the city asking for $35,498 to rimburse her for damage caused by the Foothill Special Enforcement Team (F-SET) when officers fired tear gas canisters into a home she carried the mortgage on in the 800 block of West Duarte Avenue. The man in the process of buying the home from her at the time, David Hipkins, had barricaded himself inside during a 10-hour standoff with police on June 26 before finally surrendering.
The council denied Szany-Henderson's claim during its regular meeting on Feb. 5.
Szany-Henderson addressed the council Tuesday and questioned why her claim had been denied. She said that F-SET officers fired "an excessive amount of chemicals" into the home during the operation.
"It destroyed the walls, the windows, the furniture, bedding, mattresses and I had to take care of this," Szany-Henderson said.
In a council agenda report, Monrovia human resources division manager Danielle Tellez said the city did not bear any responsibility for the damage caused to the home because it happened during a law enforcement operation.
"...The law does not require compensation for property damage resulting from the efforts of law enforcement officers enforcing criminal laws or for damage incidentally caused by the actions of police officers performing their public duties," Tellez wrote.
Police arrested the 35-year-old Hipkins, who was a convicted felon at the time, after he barricaded himself inside the home with a gun. Authorities said he threatened others with the weapon and was believed to be suicidal.
Officers made repeated attempts to contact him over a 10-hour period before firing tear gas canisters through the window of the one-story home. He surrendered shortly thereafter.