Police shoot homeowner, make excuses

Shit, shit, shit! This happened in May. Did I miss the national outrage and reorganization of the police force in charge? Arizona SWAT team kills decorated marine veteran in botched drug raid. Choice bits from the article:

Jose Guerena, a decorated Marine, was shot and killed by a SWAT team in a raid gone wrong. The team was looking for a marijuana ring and gave no warning before entering Guerena’s house.

As the SWAT team forced its way into his home, Guerena, a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, armed himself with his AR-15 rifle and told his wife and son to hide in a closet. As the officers entered, Guerena confronted them from the far end of a long, dark hallway. The police opened fire, releasing more than 70 rounds in about 7 seconds, at least 60 of which struck Guerena. He was pronounced dead a little over an hour later.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department initially claimed Guerena fired his weapon at the SWAT team. They now acknowledge that not only did he not fire, the safety on his gun was still activated when he was killed. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home. After ushering out his wife and son, the police refused to allow paramedics to access Guerena for more than hour, leaving the young father to bleed to death, alone, in his own home.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Office has now changed its story several times over the last few weeks. They have issued a press release (PDF) scolding the media and critics for questioning the legality of the raid, the department’s account of what happened, and the department’s ability to fairly investigate its own officers. They have obtained a court order sealing the search warrants and police affidavits that led to the raids…. If revealing the details of this investigation — which remember, was initially described by the Sheriff’s Department as a marijuana investigation — could endanger lives, why weren’t the warrants and affidavits sealed from the start?

The raids on the other homes carried out that same morning, all part of the same operation, resulted in no arrests and turned up little if any actual contraband. (When police find illegal substances after these raids — especially raids that end badly — they usually quickly release that information.)

Moreover, if this was all about breaking up a dangerous home invasion ring, where are the suspects, and where is the evidence? According to an advocate for the Guerena family I spoke with this week, the police also mistakenly raided another home near Guerena’s the same morning, and have since replaced that home’s front door.”

“They’re trying to imply that he was dressing up as a police officer to force his way into private homes,” Scileppi says. But when police serve a search warrant they leave behind a receipt what they’ve taken from the residence. According to Scileppi, the only item taken from Gurena’s home that remotely fits that description was a U.S. Border Control cap — which you can buy from any number of retail outlets, including Amazon.com.

“We spoke with several of the neighbors,” Epps says. “And none of them — none of them — heard any sirens that morning. Every one of them told us they didn’t hear anything, no knocking, no shouting, until the shooting started. They didn’t hear anything until the shooting started.” Epps added, “What I found disturbing is that none of the neighbors would give us their names. These people are terrified of the police, now.”

If next-door neighbors didn’t hear the sirens or police announcement at the door, it’s plausible that Guerena, who was sleeping off the graveyard shift he’d worked the night before, didn’t hear them either. Of course, the other possibility here is that the police are lying about the sirens and the announcement.

If you’re not actually a criminal and you wake up to the sound of armed men breaking into your home, your first thought isn’t likely to be that you’re being visited by the police. There may also have been something else on Guerena’s mind: Last year, two of Vanessa Guerena’s relatives were murdered by armed intruders. The intruders also shot the couple’s children. What Guerena is alleged to have said — “I’ve got something for you; I’ve gotten something for you guys” — sounds damning if you assume he knew the men in his home were police, but there’s nothing in that sentence indicating Guerena knew he was confronting cops. It also sounds like something a former soldier might shout out to intimidate armed intruders. And let’s not forget, the same team of SWAT officers who reported hearing Guerena say those words also reported seeing a muzzle flash from Guerena’s gun, which we now know couldn’t have happened.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department and other agencies involved in the raid ought to be doing anything and everything to make themselves accountable. Instead, they’ve shown arrogance, defiance, and obstinacy — all wrapped in an appeal to public safety.

Having a gun in the house quintuples your odds of being killed by gunfire.
Another link about the story.

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