Pair arrested after SWAT standoff in south Clovis

The Fresno BeeDecember 12, 2012 

A father and son who had holed up in a Clovis home they didn't own were arrested Wednesday by a sheriff's SWAT team after a daylong standoff.

The men, who were being evicted by a group of civil enforcement deputies, had refused to come out of the home at 1667 Griffith Way, Fresno County sheriff's deputy Chris Curtice said.

The SWAT team had been called to the home because it was barricaded on the inside and the men were known to own guns.

They were also evicted last year from the home, which had become such a public nuisance that the city spent more than $62,000 in cleanup and legal fees to make it habitable again.

Curtice said officials took extra precautions Wednesday because of several recent violent incidents sparked by evictions. In April, a Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy and a locksmith trying to serve an eviction notice were shot and killed by a man inside a Modesto home. That man later set fire to the home and killed himself.

Last month in Galt, an unarmed animal control officer was shot and killed when he tried to retrieve pets from a home; its owner had been evicted the previous day.

Wednesday's eviction process in Clovis began when the men refused to leave the house about 9 a.m. Officers attempted to force the two men out by tossing in tear gas canisters, but they remained inside, Curtice said.

In the afternoon, SWAT officers took control of the house room by room. About 4 p.m., the men were confined to a back room in the home.

As officers made their assault on the final room, Dennis Napier, 60, was injured when he challenged a K-9 and was hit with an electronic stun gun by SWAT members. He was taken to Community Regional Medical Center and treated for dog bites. His son, Sean Napier, 35, gave up without a fight.

Both men were booked on suspicion of resisting arrest, Curtice said.

When the men were arrested, the bank took control of the house and started to remove property Wednesday night. That process is likely to continue today.

If the Napiers try to return, they will be arrested for trespassing, Curtice said.

When they were evicted on Dec. 27, 2011, by the city of Clovis, the younger Napier was hit with a Taser and jailed.

City documents show that Clovis spent $62,476 in the past six years -- a city record -- to bring the property up to livable standards. Legal fees alone totaled $49,449, city officials reported.

City records show that the property was owned by the elder Napier's stepfather.

Clovis fire Chief Lee Kraft said the previous owner allowed Napier and his son to stay because he was afraid of them. Both men have violent pasts, according to Fresno County Superior Court records.

The home first came to the city's attention in 2007 when neighbors started complaining about trash, high grass, inoperable vehicles and illegal fences.

The city and neighbors also had problems with the Napiers' dogs.

In 2008, the city entered a court-approved agreement with the Napiers to clean up the property, but the city kept sending out warnings without getting a response.

Last year the city removed 12 pit bulls from the backyard, 11 inoperable vehicles and five nonoperating motorcycles. The home also had electrical problems and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. removed electric and gas meters, Kraft said.

The interior of the house was no better, the chief said.

"You couldn't walk two feet in the house," Kraft said. "It was floor-to-ceiling junk -- the worst hoarder house I've ever seen."

In February, after almost five years, the Clovis City Council approved placing a lien on the property for the cleanup and legal fees. Eventually, the mortgage company negotiated to pay the city about $23,000 of those costs, city officials said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6166, mbenjamin@fresnobee.com or @beebenjamin on Twitter.