Tucson SWAT Team Kills Armed Homeowner in Drug Raid

[Editor's Note: This year, Drug War Chronicle is trying to track every death directly attributable to drug law enforcement during the year. We can use your help. If you come across a news account of a killing related to drug law enforcement, please send us an email at psmith@drcnet.org.]

The Pima County SWAT team is under the spotlight. (Image courtesy Pima County Sheriff's Office)
In a mid-morning drug raid May 5, a Pima County SWAT team executing a search warrant shot and killed a 26-year-old Afghan and Iraq war veteran after he confronted the intruders with a weapon in his hand. Jose Guerena become the 27th person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year. (Actually, he was the 25th, but the Pima County Sheriff's office has been so dilatory in releasing information that we logged two more drug war deaths before we were able add this one to the list.)

According to the initial police account, when SWAT officers broke down the door of Guerena's home, which he shared with his wife and young child, he confronted them and opened fire. "The adult male had a long rifle, opened fire on the SWAT team. The SWAT team returned fire and the male is pronounced deceased. The woman and the child are unharmed," said Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Ogan.

Six days later, police admitted that while Guerena, a former Marine, was holding an AR-15 assault rifle, the safety was on and he had not fired it. They also admitted that SWAT officers fired 71 rounds at Guerena in seven seconds. It was also later reported that even though Guerena's wife called 911 as soon as he was shot and that EMTs arrived two minutes later, deputies never allowed them to treat Guerena, citing security concerns. (Recall that in the Jared Loughner mass killing in Tucson earlier this year, EMTs were allowed to treat the wounded in a matter of minutes despite the chaos of that scene.)

In an interview with KGUN9-TV, Guerena's wife, Vanessa, explained that her husband had worked the night shift at his job at a mine and been asleep only a couple of hours when the raiders arrived. When she saw armed men in her house pointing guns at her, she said, "Please don't shoot, I have a baby... and I yell 'Jose! Jose! Wake up!'"

The SWAT team didn't identify itself before breaking in her door and entering her home, Guerena said. "You're saying [they] only yelled SWAT after the shootout?" KGUN9asked. "Oh, yes! Yes," said Guerena.

Her husband grabbed a gun to protect himself from what he thought were home invaders, she said.

Police said Guerena's home was one of four targeted in simultaneous raids and that a large amount of cash was found in one of them. It wasn't Guerena's. All they have said about what they found there was that it was "evidence pertinent to the case."

But at a Wednesday memorial service for the veteran of deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, an attorney retained by his family, Christopher Scileppi, told FOX11-TV that Guerena was not part of any drug conspiracy. "What I do know is that they collected phones, computers the family has conveyed to me that they're confident that there is nothing that will be of inculpatory incriminating information," said Scileppi.

No lawsuit has yet been filed, but Scileppi is laying the groundwork. "We'll be sending our investigators out to find out what the neighbors saw, what mutual observers saw because this was obviously a big deal certainly to the Pima County sheriff's office," he said.

Tucson, AZ
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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War on Human Liberties

To what lengths is our government willing to go in order to exact control over every single person in the US? If we had the small government that was established years ago, We The People wouldn't have to fear that government. It has gotten too big, too powerful and too hungry to want to stop until it has that total control. The War on Drugs is just a nice tool used to cover up the War on Liberties.

the killing

A man, a war vet, was killed in front of his wife and child over some a quantity of alleged drugs so small the police feared he could dispose of the evidence if they failed to do an unannounced home invasion. A man was killed. In front of his wife and child.In our name, with our consent. Some write as if something could justify this violence, as if there were some fact that could make it right.For others, it's just collateral damage in the drug war, a holy war, a necessary war.  Is everybody, most of the present company above excepted, in this country out of their 'effin minds?

drug wars

 

 

my fellows brother marines please keep your cool for now and watch what happens I have listen to what you want to do for our fallen brother in a unlawful shooting by police officers. they will make up any story to cover there asses but I hope for there for the legal system that they charge some one for the murder. you had a search warrant not a murder warrant... some one has to answer for this wrongful death of a marine...

to the police department you should review your policies on 15 seconds to get to the door. for people that are totally asleep. what would you have done if his wife was answering the door with the baby in her arms at the time you were blowing the door in????  that may have nothing to do with the warrant... your in tell could be  bad. maybe this guy just new the guy your really after... so what guilty cause he new the someone maybe he should not have. most people will just let you in if you have a search warrant. if you could waited till they answer the door this all most likely could have been avoided... oh my lord the police wait a few minutes...

 

 

very concerned what the police are doing... the legal system does not let murders go free ..

Such a sad story. Especially

Such a sad story. Especially that the child and wife is there. Must be traumatic for them. 

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