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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Widow of St. Pete fugitive wants compensation for house

CLEARWATER — Christine Lacy, whose husband killed two St. Petersburg police officers in her house before authorities destroyed it trying to find him, has sued the city of St. Petersburg, asking to be compensated for the house and possessions she says were ruined.

The lawsuit, filed in Pinellas Circuit Court on Jan. 23, lists four defendants – the city, then-Mayor Bill Foster, then-Police Chief Chuck Harmon, and the Balboa Insurance Group, the California company through which Lacy had a homeowner’s insurance policy.

On Jan. 24, 2011, Lacy’s husband, Hydra, fatally shot K-9 Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz and Sgt. Thomas Baitinger during a standoff in her house at 3734 28th Ave. S. Authorities had punched holes in the roof to insert cameras to search for him. City officials said that made the house structurally unsound, and it was leveled.

At one point, the St. Petersburg police brought in heavy equipment, and pushed Christine Lacy’s vehicle into her house, the lawsuit says.

Hydra Lacy died in the shootout.

By May 2011, Christine Lacy had filed a claim with the city seeking $267,597.68 in compensation for the house, her vehicle and valuables she said she lost during the standoff, city officials said.

She also made a claim with Balboa for the loss of the house and the belongings inside, but Balboa rejected her claim.

“Our investigation revealed that the city decided to demolish the dwelling after the incident was over, and furthermore, the mayor has advised that the city will reimburse the borrower for the demolition and repair costs,” the lawsuit says, quoting a letter from Balboa. “Abusive use, acts and decisions of a government body or organization, and the enforcement of any ordinance of law regulating the demolition of any building or structure are specifically excluded in this policy.”

Foster had said the city would make her whole.

Typically, the city has six months to respond to a claims filing, after which a lawsuit can be filed. In the lawsuit, Christine Lacy says she tried to settle the matter without filing a lawsuit, out of respect for the families of the officers slain.

The city is working on its formal responses to the lawsuit, Assistant City Attorney Joseph Patner said.

“Ultimately this was a horrible tragedy involving the murder of the two police officers and there was some necessary police actions that were taken,” he said.

In a seven-page claim Christine Lacy filed in March 2011, regarding her possessions, she listed among her losses 20 bars of soap, and a Prada purse worth $400, along with what was in the kitchen, garage, three bedrooms, living room, den and bathrooms. She also asked to be compensated for items left outside, such as a $2,500 grill.

She said she owned a new stove worth $700, seven Coach purses worth $1,000, an $800 Burch and Stone bar and 10 pairs of eyeglasses worth $200.

She also said she had a new washer and dryer worth $800 each; an Ethan Allen king-size bedroom set worth $5,000; a $1,500 gaming system; a $2,500 bar; and stereo equipment worth $2,100. The filing says she also had two $800 diamond rings from her first and second marriages.

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