|Picture from Pima County Sheriff's website|
A Tucson, Ariz., SWAT team defends shooting an Iraq War veteran 60 times during a drug raid, although it declines to say whether it found any drugs in the house and has had to retract its claim that the veteran shot first.Whether or not Jose Guerena was actually guilty of the crimes that police allege he took part in this sounds a little excessive doesn't it?
Jose Guerena, 26, died the morning of May 5. He was asleep in his Tucson home after working a night shift at the Asarco copper mine when his wife, Vanessa, saw the armed SWAT team outside her youngest son's bedroom window.
Vanessa Guerena thought the gunman might be part of a home invasion -- especially because two members of her sister-in-law's family, Cynthia and Manny Orozco, were killed last year in their Tucson home, her lawyer, Chris Scileppi, said. She shouted for her husband in the next room, and he woke up and told his wife to hide in the closet with the child, Joel, 4.
Guerena grabbed his assault rifle and was pointing it at the SWAT team, which was trying to serve a narcotics search warrant as part of a multi-house drug crackdown, when the team broke down the door. At first the Pima County Sheriff's Office said that Guerena fired first, but on Wednesday officials backtracked and said he had not. "The safety was on and he could not fire," according to the sheriff's statement.
SWAT team members fired 71 times and hit Guerena 60 times, police said.
An attorney for the police claim that the force used in the raid was justified, pointing to evidence found in the house; rifles, handguns, body armor and a portion of a law-enforcement uniform along with a portrait of Jesus Malverde, believed to be a "narco saint," found under Guerena's bed. The attorney also states that the team did not know how many other guns or "shooters" were in the house, justifying the 1 hour delay before paramedics were allowed in the house to tend to Guerena.
Sounds to me like someone is in full CYA mode since it has yet to be revealed if any drugs or further supporting evidence was present in the home. I would think that if there was, it would be made know in order to bolster their justification.
The facts according to the police, still do not lead me to believe that this show of force was necessary or that they needed to fire off 71 rounds. Think about this rationally for a moment. Jose Guerena was a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, had no criminal record and as far as we know was in legal possession of the firearms.
What would you do in this situation if you had been awakened by a loved one and told that there were armed men outside your house? Anyone, especially a veteran with combat training, would grab his weapon to defend his property and his family.
Now it may turn out that Guerena was a criminal and was guilty of the crimes alleged against him, which remains to be seen, but if the police were truly concerned that he posed a threat or that they would meet armed resistance by multiple armed people, why didn't they try to take him under safer conditions? They obviously had him under surveillance for some time and could have apprehended him at different time, such as stopping him on his way home from work. They also had to be aware that there would be children in the home which makes their actions even more questionable.
What message does this send to gun owners who simply want to defend their property and loved ones if you live in an area where home invasions are common and the perpetrators frequently dress as police? If you are wrong and it really is law enforcement you will be shot dead on the spot.
This is yet another blow to the protections that the Fourth Amendment bestows on us and another example that our country is turning into a police state where we are all guilty until proven innocent.