Business owner in LA County obliged to compensate for damages incurred during SWAT raid

A North Hollywood business owner, Carlos Peña, expressed his frustration and outrage after a judge ruled that the City of Los Angeles would not be responsible for paying for the damages caused by a SWAT team two years ago. Despite watching in horror as his almost 30-year-old business was destroyed when a federal fugitive stormed in, attacked him, and forced him out of his North Hollywood print shop while law enforcement agencies pursued the suspect, Peña found himself at a loss.

The intense situation involved U.S. Marshals and the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT team, with snipers and even a tank present within minutes. After 13 hours of trying to flush out the suspect using tear gas, the operation resulted in Peña’s printers, ink, T-shirts, and banners being contaminated and destroyed. Unfortunately, his insurance did not cover the damages, and his claim for equipment and lost wages was denied twice by the U.S. Marshals.

Due to the judge’s ruling that governments can seize property during criminal investigations without the obligation to pay for damages, Peña now operates out of his garage and has lost his trust in the government’s ability to provide assistance when needed most. With 80% of his business gone, he feels abandoned and disillusioned that he is left alone to pick up the pieces after an operation that was meant to protect him from harm but instead resulted in significant losses.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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