JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A homeowner contacted the News4Jax I-TEAM after the City of Jacksonville refused to repair the damage to his property caused by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office SWAT team in July.
Robert Vansickle, an Army veteran, said heavy machinery the SWAT team was using tore an underground sewer pipe and damaged his privacy fence and concrete slab. It happened when police tried to arrest a murder suspect who had no connection with his neighborhood.
This suspect – 21-year-old Ronnie Johnson, who did not live in the Dunn Avenue neighborhood – was found hiding under an RV next to the Vansickle family before being taken into custody.
Robert Vansickle said the SWAT team used their back yard for the stage during the stalemate and the suspect never set foot on his property.
“I had one on the front porch, two on the roof, and two on my garage,” said Vansickle.
He said Bobcat from JSO removed 80 feet of its privacy fence and damaged a concrete block. He said the heavy machinery also cut off the sewer pipe that runs from his septic tank to his home.
“Since then I have not been able to use my bathroom in the master. I only get reflux from the toilet, ”said Vansickle.
Vansickle said he applied to the city of Jacksonville to have his property repaired and received a letter from the city’s risk management department that read in part, “I have to tell you your claim is denied. The fault lies with Mr. Ronnie Lee Johnson Jr., the fugitive who was captured. To file redress against Mr. Johnson, you would need to contact the prosecutor. “
Vansickle said Johnson, who is currently in Duval County Jail for murder, will never be able to repay him. He said he couldn’t afford to fight for that money in court and said the city knew that.
He said he did not blame JSO for his work but felt that the city was passing the money on to a murder suspect.
“So that they tell me they won’t fix my property that has absolutely no connection to the suspect – the suspect never got my property – so that they don’t pay for my damage, I work as a pizza delivery driver, I don’t have the money to pay for it all, ”said Vansickle.
The I-TEAM has been going back and forth with the city of Jacksonville.
We were told that at the time the officers were hunting a fugitive and were not negligent and would not pay for the repairs.
Again, Vansickle doesn’t blame officers for doing their job, but he’s stuck in an expensive mess that he believes the city should pay to fix.
We then asked if the city would pay for the immediate repairs and then have the city repay the suspect. We were told no.
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