Here's a thought: Why the hell was the decedent permitted by law to obtain an AR-15 assault rifle?
Should we end the war on drugs? No. We’re entirely dependent on it to keep crime in check now that we’ve outlawed old-fashioned (i.e. effective) police work." Foseti
Not defending the SWAT's actions, but if he was brandishing a semi-automatic rifle in the direction of the SWAT team entering his home than he was making a lethal threat, whether or not the safety was on.
Americans have long maintained that a man's home is his castle and that he has the right to defend it from unlawful intruders. Unfortunately, that right may be disappearing. Over the last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units (most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.
These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they're sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.
This paper presents a history and overview of the issue of paramilitary drug raids, provides an extensive catalogue of abuses and mistaken raids, and offers recommendations for reform.
There's a huge "gap between what the public thinks the Patriot Act says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says," according to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). The gap is so big, in fact, that it amounts to entirely different, and secret, law.
"Initially the Sheriff’s office told reporters that Guerena had threatened officers with a gun, but their story has since changed.
Apparently one of the SWAT team’s deputies accidentally fired his gun, leading to confusion."*
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The man shot and killed by SWAT officers, as well as his brother and another man, were listed as suspects in a complex drug investigation being conducted by the Sheriff's Department, according to documents released Thursday.
That investigation was the reason heavily armed SWAT officers went to Jose Guerena's house to serve a search warrant that ended in his fatal shooting May 5, reports show.
More than 500 pages of officers' statements, evidence lists and witness interviews were released by the Pima County Sheriff's Department. . .
The short video recording shows that deputies approaching Jose Guerena's home turned the sirens on for a few seconds as they approached. It also shows them announcing themselves, then knocking down the front door and firing their guns.
Audiotapes reveal that no SWAT officers entered Guerena's house. Law enforcement officers went into his home only after a robot was sent in and it was determined about an hour after the shooting that Guerena, a former Marine, was dead. . . .
The reports state Jose Guerena; his brother, Alejandro; and Jose Celaya were named as suspects in briefings given to officers before the search warrants were served. Many of the officers' reports refer to the sheriff's long-term drug investigation as the reason for the search warrants.
Reports show about $100,000 in cash, marijuana and firearms were seized that morning from the four homes that were searched.
Items found in Jose Guerena's house included: a Colt .38-caliber handgun, paperwork, tax returns, insurance papers, bank statements and a bank card, reports showed. Another report said detectives found body armor in a hallway closet and a U.S. Border Patrol hat in the garage. . . .
In the video released by the Sheriff's Department, about five SWAT team members are seen jumping out of the vehicle with shields, helmets and bulletproof vests, all marked "POLICE" across the front and back. The sirens stop and the officers begin shouting "Police, search warrant, open the door," alternating with the same command in Spanish three times before they break down the front door of Guerena's house.
A couple of seconds after the door is opened, one officers says, "Hit him," and all the officers begin shooting from the doorway.
One of the officers falls down a couple of seconds after they open fire, and then all SWAT team members back away from the door, the video shows.
Michael Storie, an attorney representing the five SWAT officers who shot at Guerena, said last week that all those officers were separated immediately after the shooting so they could be interviewed and provide objective statements of what happened. The audiotapes reveal that after about 45 minutes, all the SWAT officers are together. They can be heard talking about what happened, according to tape recordings made at the scene.
"That was um, like a movie, the way he jumped out," said the SWAT team leader.
"Well, he waited, he waited and once Hector came up ..." said another SWAT member just before being interrupted by the SWAT leader who said, "What did he say?" Hector is the name of one of the SWAT officers.
Two other voices say they "couldn't hear anything" and that they didn't know if Jose Guerena said anything before the shooting began.
"He yelled something, 'I got something for you' or something," the SWAT leader told them, according to the audiotapes.
The Sheriff's Department said previously that Guerena said something as he pointed his gun at officers.
"I just started boom, boom, boom, boom," said another voice on the tape.
"Yeah, we were all out of ammo when we got back," the SWAT leader said. . . .
One officer wrote in a report that in a briefing before the incident he was told there was an ongoing narcotics investigation and that suspects may be linked to a double homicide. . . .
A second SWAT team served a search warrant at a nearby house in the 6200 block of Oklahoma Street at the same time as the shooting. Later that morning officers also served a warrant at two other houses all related to the same investigation, the reports show.
Detective John Mawhinney wrote in his report that he conducted a search of the residence in the 6200 block of West Oklahoma Street in connection with this case and found a large shoebox full of cash under a bed. A later tally showed the box contained nearly $94,000. He also found a bag of marijuana in the stove and ammunition, his report stated. Inside the home on Oklahoma, a report states, an AK-47 rifle was found. Guns and ballistic vests were found at several of the residences, the reports show. Seven vehicles were also found at the house on Oklahoma. Several reports indicated drug dogs used in searches at the house alerted officers to the smell of narcotics on most of the vehicles there. . . .
I have to say, Ironmouth, that I do wonder sometimes if you hold these rather extreme pro-authority positions simply to rile the rest of us...
Two weeks after the shooting, officers were alerted to a storage room at Ajo Kinney Super Storage, 5175 W. Ajo Highway, rented to Jose Guerena's mother, Bertha, Dupnik said.
Inside the locker, officers found a large number of financial documents and ledgers that "make it clear to us that this is drug money and money owed to a number of individuals," Pima County sheriff's Bureau Chief Rick Kastigar said via telephone during Dupnik's visit to the Star. Officers also found high-end military gear and advanced weather protective clothing inside the storage locker, Kastigar said. Three other homes were searched May 5 as part of the investigation: one home owned by Jose Guerena's mother, Bertha, and two homes owned by Jose Celaya, a listed suspect in the drug and homicide investigation.
Jose Guerena's older brother, Alejandro Guerena, is also listed as a suspect, documents show. Officers recovered at least one stolen vehicle, marijuana, drug ledgers, about $100,000 in cash and numerous weapons from the two homes owned by Celaya, documents released Thursday show. But since the deadly raid, no arrests have been made.
Dupnik said that's because deputies are still investigating. The homicide investigation Dupnik and other officers referred to in previously released documents is a March 2010 case in which husband and wife Manuel and Cynthia Orozco were shot to death inside their southwest-side home, reportedly in front of their two daughters. The woman killed was a member of the Celaya family and the sister-in-law of Guerena's brother, Alejan- dro, but Dupnik could not say if Guerena was a suspect in the slayings or if he was linked to the homicide simply by family ties. "I can only say that some of the people involved in this particular group may be suspects in the homicide," Dupnik said.
While it was reported in local media that the search was related to a defaulted student loan, that is incorrect. This is related to a criminal investigation. The Inspector General's Office does not execute search warrants for late loan payments.
Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we can't comment on the specifics of the case. We can say that the OIG's office conducts about 30-35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.
The SWAT team that gunned down a former Marine in his Tucson, Ariz., home was cleared today of any wrongdoing in the incident.
Jose Guerena, 26, was killed in a hail of bullets from the SWAT team, which broke down the door to his home on May 5 while trying to serve a search warrant as part of a home invasion probe.
Guerena did not fire a single shot in the incident, but Pima County Chief Criminal Deputy Attorney David Berkman said in the report issued today that the five SWAT team members were justified in using deadly force because the former Marine pointed his weapon at them.
"A close examination of the rifle revealed it appeared to have been damaged by being fired upon from such an angle that it must have been pointed toward officers," Berkman wrote. "The officers were mistaken in believing Mr. Guerena fired at them. However, when Mr. Guerena raised the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle in their direction, they needed to take immediate action to stop the deadly threat against them."
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