Petersburg resident wants police to pay for damaged property

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) – An area woman wants the Petersburg Police Department to pay for, what she says, officers destroyed during a late night search of her home.

It happened Thursday night in the 100 block of Culpeper Avenue in Petersburg. Gayle Sykes says police destroyed her property and refused to pay for the damage -- until today when NBC12 got involved.

It may be surprising to hear but, legally, police can destroy your property without liability for reimbursement. Sykes' front door is boarded up after being busted out.

"They tore all of this up -- the rest of it is lying in the floor," said Sykes.

Inside her home another door is broken. She says police kicked in the doors while executing a search warrant.

"I said 'what's going on -- what are you looking for,'" said Sykes.

According to the search warrant police were looking for a stolen 27 inch plasma television and the person who stole it. They left Sykes' home empty handed.

Sykes lives alone and says she knows nothing about the stolen property. Now, the 59-year-old grandmother wants the police department to fix her broken doors.

"They said, 'we don't have to fix it. It's your responsibility.' I said, 'it's not my responsibility to fix nothing because I didn't destroy it,'" said Sykes.

Legally, the department is not required to replace the door.

"When police are in pursuit of a lawful investigation and armed with a lawful search warrant they can knock in your door and damage property without liability for reimbursement," said NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin.

Benjamin says citizens can try to collect money for the damage done by appealing to city leaders.

"I think the better recourse in that situation is for the citizen to go to his city council, present the facts, and asked to be compensated of reimbursed for the damage," said Benjamin.

NBC12 reached out to Petersburg Police for comment on the case. We got a response late Monday afternoon. The department says it offered to replace Sykes' door last week. Sykes says that's not true. She says police contacted her and offered to help late Monday afternoon after NBC12 got involved.

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