When Cops Forget To Fight Crime

Sometimes the police seem to forget they’re suppost to be stopping crime. For example, if the police discover that someone has stolen your car, you’d expect them to try to catch the thief and return your car to you.

That’s not what the DEA did when they discovered that someone was using Craig Patty’s truck to transport marijuana. Instead, they teamed-up with the thief:

Commandeered by one of his drivers, who was secretly working with federal agents, the truck had been hauling marijuana from the border as part of an undercover operation. And without Patty’s knowledge, the Drug Enforcement Administration was paying his driver, Lawrence Chapa, to use the truck to bust traffickers.

It didn’t work out so well for them, and it worked out even worse for Chapa:

Chapa was shot dead in front of more than a dozen law enforcement officers – all of them taken by surprise by hijackers trying to steal the red Kenworth T600 truck and its load of pot.

Not only did the DEA get an informant killed, but one of the cops on the scene was accidentally wounded by a shot from another cop.

Patty’s truck was also damaged in the attack, and since that truck was about half his business, he’s facing a lot of financial problems. His insurance company wasn’t much help:

Copies of letters and emails from Patty’s insurance company state that it won’t pay for repairs because the truck was part of a law-enforcement operation. Patty drew from his 401K retirement fund to repair the truck, which was out of operation for 100 days.

That doesn’t sound right. The truck wasn’t part of a law-enforcement operation. The truck was being used by a thief. That the thief was acting under the direction of the DEA is not Craig Patty’s fault.

In any case, Patty is now going after the DEA for the cost of repairing his truck.

In documents shared with the Houston Chronicle, he is demanding that the DEA pay $133,532 in repairs and lost wages over the bullet-sprayed truck, and $1.3 million more for the damage to himself and his family, who fear retaliation by a drug cartel over the bungled narcotics sting.

Houston lawyer Mark Bennett, who is advising Patty, said if Patty’s initial claim is not resolved, the next step would be to sue.

I don’t know much about tort law, but I’m guessing Patty is going to have a hard time getting anything out of the DEA. After all, the truck wasn’t damaged by the DEA but by a bunch of criminals, and it’s a drug cartel, not the DEA, that Patty’s family is afraid of. Of course, if you or I had stolen Patty’s truck, and some criminals had shot it up, I’m pretty sure we’d be held responsible for whatever damage it suffered as a result of our crime.

All of this happened because the DEA agents forgot they’re supposed to be fighting crime rather than abetting it. When the DEA discovered Chapa had misappropriated his employer’s truck to haul marijuana, they could have just arrested him for it and returned the truck to its rightful owner. Then Chapa would still be alive, the police officer wouldn’t have been shot, the truck wouldn’t have needed repairs, and Craig Patty’s family wouldn’t be looking for cartel goons around every corner.

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