Skip to main content

Victims of Deadly Tucson SWAT Raid Begin Legal Action

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #697)
Consequences of Prohibition

The attorney for the family of Jose Guerena, the ex-Marine gunned down in his own home as a Pima County SWAT team burst in, has filed a notice of claim. Such a legal maneuver lays the groundwork for a damage-seeking lawsuit.

Jose Guerena survived tours of duty in Iran and Afghanistan, but not his encounter with a Tucson, AZ SWAT team.
Earlier reports said that the lawsuit will seek $20 million in damages from the Pima County Sheriff's Office, several Pima County municipalities, and the SWAT team members. It will claim that the SWAT team used excessive force and was negligent in the raid.

Guerena, who shared the home with his wife and young son, died after SWAT team members fired 71 rounds at him as they burst through his door and confronted him in his underwear in a hallway holding a weapon. The fatal May 5 raid was part of a series of raids that day in what police said was the investigation of a drug rip-off gang.

But no drugs, cash, or illegal items were found at Guerena's home, and, to date, no one has been arrested for anything in relation to that investigation or those raids. The officers involved in the raid have already been exonerated of any wrongdoing by local officials.

On Friday, Guerena family attorney Chris Scileppi told Fox 11 News that a newly released sheriff's department video showing Vanessa Guerena being pulled from the house and 4-year-old Joel Guerena running to safety after his father had been shot demonstrated just how horrific Guerena's death at the hands of police had been.

"They just give a snapshot of the horror that his wife his small child went through as they crawled past their dying husband and dying father," said Scileppi.

Two days earlier, Scileppi filed the 15-page claim outlining what it calls reckless actions by the SWAT team.  "They were negligent and grossly negligent in how they performed this the execution of this warrant in killing Mr. Guerena," said Scileppi. The $20 million figure would "accommodate the children's loss of their father," he said. "No amount of money can replace Mr. Guerena to his wife, to his children, to his family."

The two sides have 60 days from last week to reach an agreement on the claim, or a lawsuit will be filed. Comments from Mike Storie, an attorney for Pima County SWAT team suggest, that agreement is unlikely and this matter will end up in the courts.

The $20 million figure was "obscene," he told Fox 11. "I would be absolutely shocked if anybody settles this case and did not fight it vigorously and if asked, I would say it would be a ridiculous result," said Storie. "I think a dollar is excessive. Any type of settlement for any type of award would be unwarranted in this case."

Jose Guerena was the 25th person to be killed this year in domestic law enforcement operations. This year's toll of drug war killings is currently at 32.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Windex (not verified)

How in the hell do you need to fire that many rounds? I hate police.

Thu, 08/18/2011 - 1:06pm Permalink
John Waller (not verified)

In reply to by Windex (not verified)

I agree 100%. I also hate the police and what they stand for. These outrageous murders happen frequently and the cops wonder why civilians hate them? The fed govt is behind the hate. They pass ignorant laws and demand the cops uphold those laws by any means necessary and, when it comes to marijuana or other drugs, the only good outcome for the SWAT team is to murder someone. The time has come for the insanity to stop. And Mike Storie needs to be shot 67 times to actually know what the hell is going on. He feels that $1 is too much. I feel that $20M isn't enough. It's not so much as I believe the family deserves $20M as much as I believe the govt and all involved need to pay out the ass for their mistakes and they need to learn the valuable lesson that they aren't the boss and they need to stop the senseless killings.

Thu, 08/18/2011 - 3:38pm Permalink
dalancroft (not verified)

In reply to by Windex (not verified)

I think a half-dozen of the fallen Marine's buddies should show up @ that a-hole lawyers house and scare him so bad he needs Hershey underwear. Then maybe he'll understand.

Mon, 08/22/2011 - 3:57am Permalink
Terry B. (not verified)

The day is coming, You will be totally controlled, For at least the last 50 years or so the Government have been slowly but methodically destroying our CONSTITUTION. What do you guys consider FREEDOM? I can think of many laws that directly effect my ability to my right to live without fear of government  or local police. The right to not be illegally searched or seizure. The right to believe in and practice my religion  All of these and many more of our rights are being taken in the name of "SAFETY" The most outrageous is the decisions of  others to think they have the right to protect me from myself, all along assuming they know what is right for me. I'm one AMERICAN who is tired of anyone thinking they are above our constitution. When the day comes if I'm still alive I will be one of the people involved in the uprising against oppression by a continuing effort to destroy and dilute our constitution. Signed by an American who is sick and tired. 

Thu, 08/18/2011 - 2:54pm Permalink
Vanguard (not verified)

It is becoming obvious that the police have designed their tactics to maximize the chance that they get an opportunity to kill a suspect while providing them with a maximum amount of plausible deniability.

Saying that their tactics were justified because they knew there were weapons in the home begs the question "why not arrest him on his way to his vehicle?" The answer is that they wanted him to go for his gun and make the bloodiest arrest possible. And they wanted the wife and child to be in a maximally threatening situation as a warning to other criminals. SWAT, which has some valid theoretical justifications for existing (e.g., nuclear terrorists) ends up in practice being used mostly to spread official terror.

Mr. Guerena did a service to his country when he stood up to the police. Mr. Guerena went out in a hail of gunfire as a free man. There was a time when his was the only course of action that a real man would consider. His son will miss him and probably lead a poorer life as a result of his father's loss. But the son will also admire his father very much. And he will never be able to doubt that he is made of tough stuff indeed.

Thu, 08/18/2011 - 2:58pm Permalink
Terry B. (not verified)

To the Family of this young man, I am so sorry for your lose. I am so angry I could spit nails when I read about this stuff. You deserve any amount of money you want, they can not replace your loved one, period. I am appalled that a local Swat team takes these measures on a person and his family. I'm sure there was another way to get the man outside. I believe that there should be a Ban on the use of SWAT teams Nation wide. What was the reason  of having to bust into this mans house and shoot at him 71 times. There were no hostages, no terrorists, Why were they used in the first place? Couldn't they serve the arrest warrant like most all of them are done. You know knocking on the door and asking for the person, and then go from there. SWAT should only be involved in hostage and terrorist situations, with a few exceptions. They are being used as a common tool to break into peoples homes with deadly force and these people are generally just regular people who are suspected of a crime, not found guilty yet of anything the terror and long term mental abuse this causes to victims caught up in this crap is outrageous to me. People you and I can put a stop to this if someone would just step forward and get the ball started. I will do my part. Once again my heart goes out to this family I will continue to talk about this. I don't know if it will help but I have to try. May GOD be with you in the coming days and months of your life. Signed a very upset and Angry Citizen!

Thu, 08/18/2011 - 4:31pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by Terry B. (not verified)

Actively support whichever candidate for Sheriff who promises to stop the further militarism of the department and to limit SWAT to actual dangerous hostage situations.  If you don't have such a candidate, put out a call for one to enter the race.  We have such a candidate running in my county, and I have been encouraging every person I know in my county, who really cares about stopping the police state and ending the prohibition of drugs or just wants a more transparent and effective Sheriff's department, to vote for him.  He just made it thru our primary and will be on the ballot against our current Sheriff in November.  It will be an uphill battle as the current Sheriff has a lot of support from people who really don't know what's been going on in that LE agency, and from those who are politically connected statists, but we have 2.5 months to educate the general population about the hidden corruption and the value of having a Sheriff who upholds Constitutional governance and enforcement.

Btw, in case you do not know this, your county Sheriff is the highest level of law enforcement in your county, the Sheriff OUTRANKS the municipal police, the state police, and even federal law enforcement.

Fri, 08/19/2011 - 4:18am Permalink
mandallyn (not verified)

The police were formed to help with domestic disputes, they were never intended to control the public in such a way.  I really hope the jury and judge has a good head, and conscience, on their shoulders and what little justice there is can be done. 

Fri, 08/19/2011 - 7:56pm Permalink
Anonymously (not verified)

This has to stop. Why is there zero accountability there? They are just picking people off for any reason and for all we know they could be doing mob bidding it is that shady.

Sat, 08/20/2011 - 1:02am Permalink
Anonymous1957 (not verified)

A mere $20 million is nothing compared the loss this family faces. I would want the whole swat team hanging as a wind chime in my front yard as well.

Sun, 08/21/2011 - 1:59pm Permalink
Anon-a-moose (not verified)

Mike Storie says $20 million is obscene and I agree. It should be $200 million and the officers should be arrested, tried in a court of law, and if found guilty executed with 71 shots. They should die bleeding to death while medical help is only a few feet away. Their family members should be forced to watch as this happens.

Maybe then cops will stop being just another gang. 

Sun, 08/21/2011 - 6:26pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.