This is an appalling story. These things don’t happen here in America, you think. They happen in third world countries, with their shoddy, clownish police squads and mindless paramilitary drug enforcements.
No, they happen here — it happened in Tucson. This is the American truth: cops hear the word ‘drugs,’ and bad things happen. In American law enforcement, ‘drugs’ is automatically equivalent to ‘evil’ and ‘violence,’ and the police feel it’s their responsibility to wipe all of it out. It provides a rare opportunity when they’re green-lighted to unleash violence of epic proportions.
In this tragedy, a Tucson SWAT team descended upon the home of Jose Guerena, 26, and his wife, Vanessa, on May 5th to serve a search warrant.
“She saw a man pointing at her with a gun,” said Reyna Ortiz, 29, a relative who is caring for Vanessa and her children. Ortiz said Vanessa Guerena yelled, “Don’t shoot! I have a baby!”
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.
It’s a good thing Vanessa took Joel and got in the closet. The SWAT team was about to start as violent a one-sided firefight as one could imagine.
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.
In a frantic 911 call, Vanessa Guerena begged for medical help for her husband. “He’s on the floor!” she said, crying, to the 911 operator. “Can you please hurry up?” . .
A report by ABC News affiliate KGUN found that more than an hour had passed before the SWAT team let the paramedics work on Guerena. By then he was dead.
The Tucson Sheriff’s response to the shooting death of Jose Guerena has been shocking and insulting. They appear to be more interested in covering their asses, fighting it out with the media and dirtying the dead man’s name than assessing the catastrophe.
In a statement, the sheriff’s office criticized the media, saying that while questions will inevitably be raised, “It is unacceptable and irresponsible to couch those questions with implications of secrecy and a coverup, not to mention questioning the legality of actions that could not have been taken without the approval of an impartial judge.”
Mike Storie, a lawyer for the SWAT team, said at a press conference Thursday that weapons and body armor were found in the home as well as a photo of Jesus Malverde, who Storie called a “patron saint drug runner,” according to KGUN.
Storie defended the long delay in allowing paramedics to enter the home, saying of the SWAT team, “They still don’t know how many shooters are inside, how many guns are inside and they still have to assume that they will be ambushed if they walk in this house.”
Storie here won’t even acknowledge that the SWAT team had obviously already been inside the home. This is the level of discourse emanating from Pima County law enforcement.
Whose decision was it to let Guerena bleed to death on the ground? Why didn’t they call for help? Why pretend it took so long to secure the location?
“It is my understanding, and considering what happened and the size of the house, that wouldn’t have taken very long at all,” [Guerena family attorney Christopher] Scileppi said, adding that his biggest concern is that Guerena wasn’t given medical care after he’d been shot. “I think it’s tragic on so many levels. On a human, level, it’s tragic. My biggest question is, why was he denied medical attention?”
Paramedics were standing by, but were not allowed to enter the home, despite Vanessa’s pleas to a 911 operator. After an hour and 14 minutes of waiting, emergency responders received word that Guerena was deceased.
“His last thoughts were, ‘I’m defending my home, my wife and children from a home invasion.'” Scileppi told KGUN9.
Having seen these stories so many times before, I think I know what the cops are doing: they’re digging into Guerena’s background. They’re hoping to get even one hint that he was a bad guy, especially hoping he were a drug user. American law enforcement know that the public are okay with the violent deaths of druggies — especially the deaths of casual drug users. Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik is crossing his fingers that even the death of an Iraq veteran will be acceptable if he smoked a little pot. Then, it’ll have been perfectly okay to shoot and kill him.
More on the Jose Guerena SWAT shooting: