The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, which was made public late Monday, heads off a potentially embarrassing civil trial that was supposed to start early next month at the federal courthouse…
Back in November 2011, A DEA task force was supposed to be watching truck driver Chapa from the ground and the air as he delivered a load of marijuana fresh from the Rio Grande Valley to Houston. The plan was for Chapa to take them to where the load was to be delivered and arrest cartel members there.
But as the truck entered northwest Houston under the watch of approximately two dozen law enforcement officers, several heavily armed Los Zetas cartel-connected soldiers in sport utility vehicles converged on Patty’s truck.
In the ensuing firefight, Patty’s truck was wrecked and riddled with bullet holes, and a plainclothes Houston police officer shot and wounded a plainclothes Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was mistaken for a gangster.
The truck’s driver was killed and four attackers were arrested and charged with capital murder.
Patty’s truck was impounded and later released to him, but was out of service for months. The DEA refused to pay for the damages, as did Patty’s insurance company, which ruled that the truck had been used in a criminal act, and therefore the damages weren’t covered.
Patty had argued that he and his family lived through extreme emotional distress after fears that the cartel would come after them for some perception they had been complicit with police. He also said that losing the truck for nearly 90 days after it had been damaged nearly crippled his business, which only had two trucks at the time.
Fred Shepherd, who worked with Vickery on the case said his client is astonished that he has no recourse. “It is not just that you can’t sue the federal government., but that fed law enforcement agencies under this ruling can use anybody’s property to do anything they want to further their law enforcement mission and not have to go get the permission from the owner of the property to do it.”