Legitimate Exercise of Police Power Not a Taking
(CN) - A South Carolina convenience store owner cannot prevail in a suit against the city for smashing his building with a bulldozer to end a hostage crisis, a state appeals court ruled.
Jimmy Johnson fled Spartanburg police in the summer of 2004 and took Carolina Convenience Store employee Saroj Patel hostage.
The police cut off the store's power and used pepper spray and tear gas, but Johnson would not surrender.
Negotiations failed, and since the store had no windows or doors other than the front entrance, the police drove a bulldozer into a corner of the building.
Johnson shot at police and then took Patel into the walk-in cooler. Police drove the bulldozer into that side of the building, and a sharpshooter shot Johnson in the shoulder while he and Patel were struggling over his gun.
At the end of her 13-hour ordeal, Patel emerged unharmed.
The convenience store sued the city for inverse condemnation for the damage to the building. The trial court ruled in favor of the city, and the South Carolina Court of Appeals agreed in a decision written by Judge H. Bruce Williams."A detriment to private property that results from a legitimate exercise of police power does not constitute a taking of private property for public use," he wrote.