AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two months after a police standoff, an 85-year-old woman finally returned to her Austin home. Lillie Ransom had to move out of her Northeast Austin home after a SWAT standoff happened while she wasn’t there. She was back in the home Monday for the first time since before the whole ordeal.
“My couch was there, and the loveseat was here,” Ransom said, pointing around her empty living room.
Ransom got rid of her furniture, carpet, mattresses and clothes. Nearly everything had to go because tear gas contaminated her home. Some broken windows have been replaced; others are still boarded up. The front door is still smashed in. Ransom spent the past almost two months in a hotel while clean-up and repairs took place.
“It was quite different. It was quite different,” she said. “I still made it to church meetings.”
The damage was left behind from a Feb. 5 incident when Austin police tried to arrest Ransom’s great-grandson at another location. He ran to her home, starting a standoff with police.
“It’s unfortunate. I really feel for the homeowner,” said APD Special Operations Commander Todd Gage.
But Gage says the way officers reacted was appropriate. Dominique Smith ultimately came out of the house, but the situation didn’t end there.
“That subject had tried to stab an officer three times in the head once he’d been taken into custody.”
Believing someone else was inside, police used tear gas and broke into the home. However, no one else was in the home.
“It looked like they were just angry, it seemed to me,” said Ransom. “They kicked holes in the wall … how are you going to find somebody by breaking a lamp?”
Her homeowners insurance covered some of the damage to the house structure. Now, Ransom says she wants the city to do the right thing and cover the rest of the costs.
APD is not responsible for taking care of damage. Instead, those requests go to a claims office in the City of Austin’s law department. Ransom has filed a claim with the city but has not yet received compensation. The city has some leeway on deciding if they have to pay for damages.
A KXAN Investigation last year showed the city refused to pay a homeowner after crews disconnected a sewage line and didn’t reconnect it. The city first denied his claim — because of a 12-year-old state law which states the city is not liable for damages caused while performing certain government functions. After KXAN started digging into that complaint, the city did pay out.
Meanwhile, a city spokesperson said they are happy to work with claimants to reach a resolution and mutual understanding.