LA County business owner forced to pay damages caused by SWAT raid

LA County business owner loses store after SWAT raid

A North Hollywood business owner is outraged after the judge ruled that the City of Los Angeles will not have to pay for any of the damages a SWAT team caused nearly two years ago.

"I mean it's so outrageous," business owner Carlos Peña said. "You know it feels like I'm frustrated. I feel defenseless in other words."

The nightmare started on Aug. 4, 2022 — the day Peña watched his nearly 30-year-old business get destroyed. On that day, a federal fugitive stormed into Peña's North Hollywood print shop, attacked him and threw him out while U.S. Marshals and the Los Angeles Police Department's SWAT team trailed behind. 

"It's not every day that within 60 seconds there are snipers with rifles out front and then a few hours later a tank out front," a nearby business owner said. 

The officers tried to flush the suspect out for 13 hours, repeatedly firing tear gas, contaminating all of Peña's printers, ink as well as a whole supply of T-shirts and banners.

It was not covered by insurance, and the U.S. Marshals twice denied his claim for about $60,000 in equipment and wages lost, forcing Peña to sue the city for damages. 

On Monday, a federal judge said governments are allowed to seize property when they're doing so as part of criminal investigations. As unfair as it seems, the city had no responsibility to pay back Peña.

It was another gut punch Peña, who now works out of his garage. He said he's lost 80% of his business and his faith in government. 

"It seems like every time we're in need of something, it's like we're alone and it's ridiculous," he said. "The most terrible thing is, they did so much damage and they didn't catch the guy."

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