Drug War is, and always has been, part of the process of Domestic Fascism
The Constitution is "just a scrap of paper" and Citizens are rounded up and executed only for acting "suspicious", especially if the people being killed are of a minority nation.
A renegade government is fighting a war against the people.
2011-05-30 "Hundreds march in protest for Jose Guerena" from "KVOA.com - Tucson, AZ" television news
TUCSON - Hundreds gathered in Pima County Monday for a fallen Marine, but this was no typical Memorial Day ceremony.
A group called Oath Keepers organized a march and protest for Jose Guerena.
Guerena was killed by a Pima County SWAT team on May 5th. They entered his home with a search warrant, but deputies said when they went in, Guerena aimed an assault rifle at them. They fired 71 rounds and killed him.
More than a hundred people took part in the march, some of which came from as far away as Vegas. The people said they were there for a number of reasons: pay tribute to a fallen marine, support the victim's family, and protest the tactics of the SWAT team.
Lilly Gonzalez is part of Oath Keepers and drove down from Vegas. She said, "Even if it was just one. The fact that he was murdered is the issue. He's an American citizen. He served our country and deserved a hell of a lot better."
For some it was the fact that he was a Marine, but for others it was that the SWAT team was even there in the first place.
Former Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack said, "It could have been done so easily, but to march a SWAT team into a home of a trained Marine is absolutely absurd and inexcusable."
Stewart Rhodes is the founder of Oath Keepers. He said, "That doesn't make tactical sense. If he's really a dangerous guy, why not stop him on the street on his way home."
And for some, justice isn't enough. Mack said, "There is no excuse for this. No justification for this. Everyone in Arizona, especially in Pima County owes a deep and profound apology to Vanessa Guerena, her family and her sons."
But the attorney for the SWAT team, Mike Storie said they shouldn't hold their breath. Storie said, "I cannot fathom what apology is required at this point."
As for policy changes he said there's nothing wrong with sending the SWAT team in like they did. Storie said, "There is nothing wrong with policy. This policy has worked for years and it will continue to work for years. My advice would be if you hear lights and sirens going, and you hear the police pounding on your door, let them in."
This debate is far from over. It will actually be back in court Tuesday to discuss the possibility of unsealing the search warrant that was served on the day of the shooting.
2011-05-30 "Group marches in support of Jose Guerena" from "KVOA.com - Tucson, AZ" television news
TUCSON - Family, friends, and the Oath Keepers are holding a march in honor of 26-year old Marine veteran Jose Guerena.
He was killed in a SWAT shooting May 5th in his home.
The group had a short ceremony followed by a march to honor Guerena's military service.
Oath Keepers are a pro constitution, pro-military group made up of current and ex-military and police.
2011-05-30 "Oath Keepers march for former Marine killed by SWAT" with Reporter: Sergio Avila, and Web Producer Layla Tang, from "KGUN 9 - Tuscon" ABC-affiliate television news
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - In the aftermath of the SWAT shooting that killed a former Marine, a group of public safety officers, military personnel, and veterans are calling on Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik to change the way he uses the SWAT team.
The Oath Keepers came to Tucson on Memorial Day to honor Jose Guerena, 26, who was shot and killed May 5 while the Pima Co. SWAT team attempted to serve a search warrant at his home. The group marched to the Guerena home Monday and held a vigil to remember the father and former Marine. The Oath Keepers believe SWAT teams are being overused in the wrong types of situations, and that local law enforcement agencies should scale back their use.
The family of Jose Guerena still has many questions about the shooting that took his life. They walked side by side with the Oath Keepers, a group dedicated to protect the Constitution and the rights it gives. Founder Stewart Rhodes told 9 On Your Side the May 5 SWAT incident crossed the line.
"All you know is you got yelling men entering your home with guns in their hands, how are you going to react? it puts them in a no-win situation," Rhodes said.
Just days before the march, the Pima Co. Sheriff's Department released a video showing the moments before, during, and after the deadly shooting. The video clearly shows that the SWAT team approached the Guerena home with sirens and lights on, despite claims by Vanessa Guerena that the family heard nothing before SWAT broke down their door. The family's attorney has argued that Jose Guerena was waiting for SWAT members with an assault rifle because he thought he was the victim of a home invasion. KGUN9 reporter Sergio Avila asked Rhodes about the latest evidence and whether the video changed the way the group felt about the shooting.
"Just because they blew the alarm doesn't mean someone inside heard it. People here in Arizona run their air conditioner all the time, you're running music, who knows? The only real chance you have of knowing who it is once they knock on the door and give you a chance to respond. The knock came, it was a knock and then four seconds later the door is knocked in," Rhodes said.
Jack Anaya was friends with Jose Guerena and worked with him for about a year at a local mine. He's backing his friend's wife's claim that no one heard the officers coming.
"I am glad to see they did announce themselves but when we get off of our 12-hour graveyard shift he was only an hour-and-a-half into his sleep, you're not going to be able to wake up and comprehend what's going on," Anaya said.
Guerena's family wishes they could wake up from this nightmare. During a moment of silence the drummer sounded 71 beats, the same number of shots fired at Guerena. People then left roses in front of the home where the shooting took place.
"This should not have happened anywhere in America, it should not have happened in Arizona," said Richard Mack, former Graham County Sheriff. He told 9 On Your Side he believes SWAT is being overused.
"They go on too many mundane calls. Calls that don't merit a SWAT team," Mack said.
The Oath Keepers are calling on Sheriff Clarence Dupnik to reevaluate how the sheriff's department uses the SWAT team. They're expected to deliver a petition asking for change to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne on Tuesday.
Members of the Guerena family marched alongside the Oath Keepers
The group held a vigil outside the home where the May 5 SWAT raid occurred
The Oath Keepers marched to the home of Jose Guerena on Memorial Day
2011-05-25 "Jose Guerena Killed: Arizona Cops Shoot Former Marine In Botched Pot Raid"
On May 5 at around 9:30 a.m., several teams of Pima County, Ariz., police officers from at least four different police agencies armed with SWAT gear and an armored personnel carrier raided at least four homes as part of what at the time was described as an investigation into alleged marijuana trafficking. One of those homes belonged to 26-year-old Jose Guerena and his wife, Vanessa Guerena. The couple's 4-year-old son was also in the house at the time. Their 6-year-old son was at school.
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 [http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_d7d979d4-f4fb-5603-af76-0bef206f8301.html], 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 (PDF) [http://pimasheriff.org/files/1013/0463/5381/OIS050511.pdf] 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.
I can now report a number of new details that further call into question the police account of what happened that morning. But first some context:
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) [http://pimasheriff.org/files/9213/0574/4466/Officer_Involved_Shooting_Update.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, and they're now refusing any further comment on the case at all. When I contacted Public Information Officer Jason Ogan with some questions, he replied via email that the department won't be releasing any more information. On Saturday, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told Arizona Daily Star columnist Josh Brodesky [http://azstarnet.com/news/local/article_47d3b9b2-8345-11e0-a48d-001cc4c03286.html] that he may never release the search warrants and police affidavits. Dupnik rose to national prominence earlier this year after claiming combative political rhetoric contributed to Jared Loughner killing six people and wounding 19 others, including Rep. Gabielle Giffords, last January.
The department's excuses [http://abcnews.go.com/US/tucson-swat-team-defends-shooting-iraq-marine-veteran/story?id=13640112] for keeping all of this information under wraps make little sense. In his May 18 press release (PDF) [http://pimasheriff.org/bulletins/officer-involved-shooting-update/], for example, Ogan wrote, "The investigation that lead to the service of the search warrants on May 5 is a complicated one involving multiple people suspected of very serious crimes. Sometimes, law enforcement agencies must choose between the desire of the public to quickly know details, and the very real threat to innocent lives if those details are released prematurely." Dupnik used the same line of reasoning with Brodesky. "Those are the real sensitive parts of why we are having difficulty with trying to put information out publicly--because we don't want somebody getting killed," Dupnik said.
The problem with that explanation is that the search warrants and affidavits weren't sealed until four days after the raids were executed, right at about the time the troubling questions about Jose Guerena's death began to make national headlines. 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? It isn't difficult to understand why some would suspect a cover-up, or at least an attempt to suppress details until the department can come up with a narrative that mitigates the damage. In any case, it's awfully audacious for a police agency to scold the media for not trusting them and for "spreading misinformation" just days after revealing they themselves released bad information.
There are other reasons to doubt the excuse that releasing the search warrants would jeopardize public safety. 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. Again, the Pima County Sheriff's Department is refusing comment, so I can't verify this allegation with them. But police officials have admitted that even the Guerena warrant was only for his residence, not for Jose Guerena personally; his name doesn't appear anywhere on the warrants. The police also concede they weren't aware that there was a child in the home at the time of the raid. Given all of this, it seems reasonable to question just how thorough this investigation really was.
I've been reporting on the overuse of SWAT teams and military police tactics for about six years now [http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6476]. You begin to see patterns in how police agencies respond to high-profile incidents like this one. One near-universal tactic is to lock down information once the media begins to grow skeptical. Another, often undertaken simultaneously, is to unofficially leak information that's beneficial to the police department. They're doing both in Tucson.
Michael Storie, the attorney for the Arizona police union, is apparently handling the smear campaign portion of the strategy. Storie points out on the union's website [http://azcops.com/Legal.aspx] that under his watch, no union police officer "has ever been convicted on charges relating to on-duty conduct." That may be a boastworthy claim when it comes to Storie's lawyering prowess. But it isn't exactly a testament to his trustworthiness. (Police critic William Grigg also points out [http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/2011/05/death-squad-damage-control-in-tucson.html] that the boast isn't entirely true -- Storie represented a cop convicted of a sexual assault and kidnapping committed in 2005 [http://www.nogalesinternational.com/articles/2008/05/21/news/news2.txt], despite Storie's best efforts to blame the victims. [http://www.azag.gov/Criminal/CriminalCases.html])
On Friday, Storie told the Arizona Daily Star [http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_a978c23a-a40f-5d0a-a203-76b88ac67e86.html] that Guerena was "linked" to a "home-invasion crew," and that police found rifles, handguns, body armor, and a "portion of a law-enforcement uniform" in Guerena's house. "Everything they think they're going to find in there, they find," Storie said. "Put it together, and when you have drug rip-offs that occasionally happen where people disguise themselves as law enforcement officers, it all adds up."
I asked Chris Scileppi, the attorney representing Guerena's family, about the "portion of a law enforcement uniform" allegation. "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.
About the guns and body armor Scileppi says, "Is it really that difficult to believe that a former Marine living in Arizona would have guns and body armor in his home? Nothing they found in the house is illegal to own in Arizona." In fact, Storie himself acknowledged in the Daily Star that had the SWAT team entered Guerena's home peacefully, they wouldn't have made an arrest.
And when you "put it together," to borrow his own terminology, Storie's comments thus far lead to a pretty astonishing conclusion: After violently breaking into Guerena's home, the police found exactly the evidence they were looking for -- yet none of that evidence merited an arrest. Storie is either shamelessly posturing, or he actually believes that the police are justified in violently forcing their way into a private home with their guns drawn, even if they have no expectation that they'll find any evidence of a crime.
At his press conference last week [http://www.kgun9.com/story/14686174/raw-video-swat-lawyer-michael-storie-on-deadly-incident], Storie also defended the SWAT team's refusal to allow paramedics to access Guerena for more than hour. "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 said.
This is absurd. The entire purpose of using SWAT teams, dynamic entry, and like paramilitary-style police tactics is to subdue dangerous suspects and secure the building within seconds. If it took more than an hour to secure the Guerenas' small home, this particular SWAT team was incompetent. By contrast, paramedics were tending to the wounded after the Jared Loughner shootings within 12 minutes, and that was a far more volatile crime scene.
Storie has offered up a number of other questionable allegations and explanations in recent days.
Last week, for example, Storie told the Daily Star that the investigation leading up to the raids was from the start about home invasions and "drug rip-offs" -- not just marijuana distribution, as the Sheriff's Department initially indicated. Storie also says the police vehicles ran their lights and sirens until they were parked in the Guerenas' driveway, and that a police officer knocked on the door and announced himself for a full 45 seconds before the SWAT team forced its way inside. He emphasized that the raid was "in no way" a "no-knock" operation.
Storie is laying groundwork for the argument that Guerena should have known that the men breaking into his home were police. That he still met them with his rifle meant he was intent on killing them, which of course would justify their rash of gunfire. For good measure, Storie added that just before they opened fire, several officers reported hearing Guerena say, "I've got something for you; I've gotten something for you guys."
There are a number of problems here, beginning with the lights, the sirens, and the knocking. If these warrants were, as Storie claims, for suspected dangerous, well-armed members of a home invasion ring, why would they give a violent suspect such ample warning that they're coming? Why wouldn't the police have sought and obtained a no-knock warrant? This is precisely the scenario for which no-knock entry is warranted -- to apprehend suspected dangerous people who may present an immediate threat to police and the public.
This week I also spoke with Ray Epps, a retired Marine sergeant from Mesa, Arizona and president of the Arizona chapter of Oath Keepers, the controversial organization of police and military personnel who have vowed not to enforce laws they believe are unconstitutional [http://reason.com/archives/2011/02/07/an-interview-with-stewart-rhod]. After hearing about Guerena's death, Epps drove to Tucson to investigate.
"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." Scileppi, who is conducting his own investigation, wouldn't say if he had spoken to neighbors, but did say of the lights and sirens, "What we've found contradicts what they're saying." 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. Another thing I found strange, they said the police didn't evacuate them until after the shooting."
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.
To buy what Storie is pitching, you would have to believe that Guerena -- the father of two young boys, who was working a night job to save money for a new home, who had no criminal record, who served two tours of duty in Iraq and was honorably discharged -- knowingly took on a team of armored, well-armed police officers, himself armed only with his rifle, and with his wife and young child still in the home. You'd also have to believe that the battle-tested former Marine forgot to turn off his weapon's safety before the shooting began.
The alternate explanation -- and I think the more plausible one -- is that Guerena thought the men breaking into his home were criminals, but held his fire until he was sure. (That's also the mark of someone well-trained in gun safety, and a stark contrast to the SWAT team, which despite never receiving hostile fire, unleashed a barrage of bullets that penetrated not only Jose Guerena but, according to sources I spoke with, also the walls of neighboring homes.)
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 [http://tucsoncitizen.com/dead/2010/03/30/double-homicide-manuel-francisco-orozco-36-and-wife-cynthia-orozco-34/]. 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.
Storie also says police found a photo of Jesus Malverde in Guerena's home. Malverde is an iconic, probably mythical figure often described as the "narco saint". But as my former Reason magazine colleague Tim Cavanaugh points out [http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/22/jose-guerena-evidence-dont-buy], while it's true that Malverde has been embraced by drug traffickers, he is also revered by the poor, by immigrants, and by people who feel they've been wronged. "That Guerena had a picture of Jesus Malverde tells us two things," Cavanaugh writes. "He had a family to worry about and he shared the belief of most Americans that a supernatural being or beings can influence earthly circumstances."
When Daily Star columnist Josh Brodesky [http://azstarnet.com/news/local/article_aa14fff5-0aa2-584d-a701-f48160f7050e.html] asked Sheriff Dupnik if Storie's chats with the press about the details of the Guerena raid were hindering the investigation, Dupnik said, simply, "No." So while Dupnik's department is refusing to officially release any information about the raid or surrounding investigation due to "the real threat to innocent lives," he has no problem with the police union lawyer disclosing details that smear Guerena to the benefit of Dupnik and his department.
Perhaps we will at some point see convincing evidence that Dupnik and Storie are right -- that Jose Guerena was in fact a drug dealer and violent criminal who dressed up like a cop to rob rival drug dealers and innocent citizens of Pima County. But at this point, all we have is a dead father and veteran, a violent series of raids that make little sense, and a police agency that over the last three weeks has put out incorrect information, insisted that it would be dangerous to release any further information, and, at the same time, allowed a police representative to release information favorable to the department.
The government of Pima County has killed one of its own citizens. This is the most serious, solemn, and severe action a local government can undertake. It demands complete transparency. 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.
2011-06-02 "Newly released documents show ICE was investigating Jose Guerena" from "KVOA.com - Tucson, AZ" television news
TUCSON- A superior court judge released court documents that shed new light to that deadly SWAT shooting that occurred on May 5th.
The documents outline José Guerena's alleged ties to a drug trafficking organization. He was shot and killed by the Pima County Regional SWAT team as they attempted to serve a search warrant. Authorities say he pointed an assault rifle at them and refused to come out, even when they issued commands in English and Spanish.
The warrants have been sealed until now. The reason, according to Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, to protect the informant who was working with authorities.
Sheriff Dupnik says, "They are a very large organization and they've become involved in some very serious violence." He adds the organization was being investigated by his department and Immigration Customs Enforcement.
The documents show in 2009, José Guerena was a person of interest in an ICE case involving conspiracy to distribute marijuana. It also mentions how some family members show no income yet have multiple late model vehicles, and are collecting assistance from the Department of Economic Security.
The document states, Guerena works at the mines earning $41,000 a year. It also states, he is the listed registered owner of six vehicles. Five of them totaling over $100,000.00. Investigators say he was arrested in Pinal County in 2009 on drug and weapons charges. But he was never convicted.
The investigator states, during their surveillance, they never observed anyone handling narcotics, but the organization has out sourced marijuana transportation in the past.
The portion that includes the informant was redacted. Sheriff Dupnik says, "The life of this person is going to be definitely in jeopardy."
We contacted the attorney for the Guerena family. Chris Scileppi tells News 4, he's not making any more comments on the case until he completes his own investigation.
You can see the warrants for your self here: http://www.kvoa.com/files/Scanned%20Document0582_000.pdf
2011-05-22 "Jose Guerena Evidence: Don't Buy Your Kids the Jesús Malverde Bobblehead" by Tim Cavanaugh
How weak is the evidence [http://abcnews.go.com/US/tucson-swat-team-defends-shooting-iraq-marine-veteran/story] tying slain Iraq war veteran Jose Guerena to the drug ring and/or home invasion gang [http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/20/sheriffs-slain-jose-guerena-li] whose existence has been asserted (though not alleged – no arrests have been made) by the Pima County, Arizona Sheriff?
Here is the full text of a press release [pdf] offered Thursday by the department:
The investigation that lead [sic] to the service of the search warrants on May 5 is a complicated one involving multiple people suspected of very serious crimes. Sometimes, law enforcement agencies must choose between the desire of the public to quickly know details, and the very real threat to innocent lives if those details are released prematurely. Sheriff Dupnik has made it a departmental policy to be open and forthcoming with information released to the news media. When the decision is made to withhold information, as it has been in this case, there is a legitimate reason for that decision. The day the search warrant was served, we reported to the media that Mr. Guerena fired at SWAT officers. This is what was understood at that time. After a more detailed investigation, we learned that he pointed his assault rifle at SWAT officers, however, the safety was on and he could not fire. This is a clear example of erroneous information being provided without careful investigation. Rather than risking the release of further information, it is imperative that we complete all aspects of this investigation.
Complicating matters is the fact that multiple agencies were involved in this incident. The criminal investigation must be completed, in addition to the investigation by the County Attorney's office, prior to any administrative review of the actions of the officers involved in the shooting. By mutual agreement, that administrative review will include officials from the Pima County Sheriff's Department, the Marana Police Department, the Oro Valley Police Department and the Sahuarita Police Department. Each of these agencies had officers involved in the shooting as members of the Pima Regional SWAT Team.
Since the Sheriff's Department has had such a long-standing practice of open and timely communication with members of the news media, it is understandable that questions are asked about when more information will become available. However, it is unacceptable and irresponsible to couch those questions with implications of secrecy and a cover-up, not to mention questioning the legality of actions that could not have been taken without the approval of an impartial judge. As a law enforcement professional with decades of experience, Sheriff Dupnik will make the decision to release the information when the investigation is completed, the danger to innocent lives has been mitigated, and all agencies involved have been given the opportunity to review the actions of their personnel.
Deputy Jason S. Ogan
Public Information Officer
Pima County Sheriff’s Department
The self-exculpation on display in the first paragraph, blamethrowing in the second, and arrogance in the third don’t really need any commentary.
As I noted the other day [http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/20/sheriffs-slain-jose-guerena-li], Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s Department is not the only source attempting to discredit Guerena, who was shot 60 times by a SWAT team shortly after 9am May 5, then left to die as police for more than an hour refused to allow paramedics to work on him [http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/16/marine-survives-two-tours-in-i]. According to Michael Storie, attorney for the five shooters, a search of Guerena’s residence turned up firearms, body armor, a portion of a “law enforcement uniform,” and a picture of Jesús Malverde.
More about Malverde in a moment. Storie’s claim differs from the search results reported in a televised interview Pima County Sheriff's Department spokesman Lt. Michael O'Connor gave to KGUN days after the killing [http://www.kgun9.com/story/14643812/this-case-involves-a-narcotics-conspiracy-case-which-means-that-we-are-looking-for-a-lot-of-different-narcotics-related-material-that-can-be-drug]. O’Connor used the phrase “may have been” rather than “was” in reference to material supposedly found in some of the four residences raided on May 5. O'Connor's list included: “drug ledgers, narcotics paraphernalia, any other connecting material between the residences, in addition to a large sum of money – somewhat larger than what you would normally expect to have in anyone’s home”
However, O’Connor conceded that these things had been found at homes other than Guerena’s. In Guerena’s residence, he claimed only that police had found “connecting material to the drug conspiracy.”
Keep in mind that this televised interview occurred about a week after the raid, and concerned only the material found during the service of a search warrant. It’s not about the circumstances of Guerena’s death. There might legitimately be confusion over the play-by-play in a fatal military-style engagement during which one side – consisting of five armed men – discharged 71 rounds, while the other side – consisting of one man with a safety-locked weapon, one unarmed woman and one unarmed four-year-old child – discharged zero rounds. But there is no reason, and certainly no excuse, for confusion about what was found in Guerena’s home. Reconciling O’Connor’s claims with Storie’s suggests the only item potentially linking the Marine veteran to a drug conspiracy was the picture of Jesús Malverde.
Jesús Malverde, a probably mythical Robin Hood figure who is said to have died at the hands of Porfirio Diaz’s dictatorship in 1909, is the subject of a cult centered in Sinaloa, Mexico. Malverde tchotchkes can be found throughout Mexico and the Southwestern United States.
While both English and Spanish media associate the Jesús Malverde cult with narcotraficantes, Malverde’s powers of intercession extend far beyond the drug trade. With judicious use of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, the official prayer to the non-church-approved Malverde [https://www.wisdomproducts.com/product/543] is said to be effective for immigrants and people who have been ripped off. There’s even a story of supernatural malfunctions of Caterpillar machinery during an attempt to knock down a chapel consecrated to the popular bandit [http://lascosasquenuncaexistieron.com/Articulos/314/oracion-a-jesus-malverde], though Caterpillar equipment has performed up to specs against Malverde-fortified locations in Kelseyville, California [http://lakeconews.com/content/view/4999/919/] and the lovely but gang-troubled Glassell Park neighborhood of Los Angeles [http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/05/local/me-drewstreet5].
Maria Alicia Pulido Sanchez, a Mexico City acolyte, told AP in 2007 [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,245960,00.html] that she built the capital's first public shrine to Malverde after her son recovered quickly from injuries sustained in a December 2005 car crash. That Guerena had a picture of Jesús Malverde tells us two things: He had a family to worry about and he shared the belief of most Americans that a supernatural being or beings can influence earthly circumstances.
2011-05-20 "Sheriffs: Slain Jose Guerena Linked to Home-Invasion Crew" by Tim Cavanaugh
A very different version of the May 5 killing of Marine Iraq veteran Jose Guerena has emerged from the Pima County, Arizona Sheriff’s Department and a lawyer for the five SWAT team members who shot Guerena 60 times. [http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/16/marine-survives-two-tours-in-i]
The Arizona Daily Star’s Fernanda Echávarri reports [http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_54486592-8257-11e0-950b-001cc4c002e0.html] that the sheriff’s department has complained of media reports that “spread misinformation and encouraged speculation.” However, the department did not provide any additional information about the shooting, which took place during a mid-morning raid on Guerena’s home, where he was apparently asleep with his wife and four-year-old child. Nor did the sheriff offer to unseal the search warrant and court documents specifying what police were looking for in the home and what they seized.
But Michael Storie, the attorney for the SWAT officers, said the raid turned up rifles, hand guns, body armor and a piece of a “law enforcement uniform” inside Guerena’s house. (Guerena family attorney Christopher Scileppi, tells Echávarri none of the seized items were illegal.) From the Daily Star:
“Everything they think they’re going to find in there they find,” said Storie in a news conference called a day after the Sheriff’s Department complained media reports on the incident spread misinformation and encouraged speculation about events surrounding the shooting…
All statements made by Storie on Thursday morning came from the five SWAT officers he is representing, he said.
The five officers had “no choice but to shoot” when they breached the front door of the house in the 7100 block of South Redwater Drive and saw Guerena holding a rifle, Storie said.
The house was targeted as part of an investigation into home invasions and drug rip offs. The Guerena house was among homes that “were identified as locations where these activities were being carried out from.”
Storie has revived the detail that Guerena shouted “I’ve got something for you, I’ve got something for you guys” before he was shot (which Guerena's widow denies). He says that Guerena’s name was not in any of the search documents, and uses some intriguing phrasing to tell Echávarri that “if SWAT members had been let in to the home, those inside ‘probably they wouldn’t have been arrested.’”
Storie also speculates that police officers casing Guerena’s house a few days before the shooting were spied on by parties unknown, and he says a portrait of Jesus Malverde, “believed to be a ‘narco saint’” was found under Guerena’s bed.
It was either Patrick Henry or Rooster Cogburn who observed that states and railroads will lie to you quicker than a man will. While the sheriff has been quiet about the case’s details (including the dispatcher’s apparent confusion over the raid during Vanessa Guerena’s 911 call), Storie’s claims are almost perfect examples of lawyerly pettifogging. Having a picture of a “narco saint” is evidence of nothing; in 1975, my wife’s grandmother was killed by one Lebanese militia because while raiding her home they found a magazine published by a rival militia. Finding a uniform in a private residence was one of the KGB’s favorite pieces of flimflammery when they wanted to arrest somebody. Possession of firearms is, for the time being, legal in the United States, and the fact that Guerena had an AR-15 has been part of this narrative since the beginning.
It’s certainly important to hear the authorities’ side of this misadventure, which has resulted in no arrests. It’s also important to avoid misinformation and wild speculation. But the solution to that problem is for the authorities to release the warrants and court records and to put out a coherent narrative that doesn’t keep changing. They’ve had plenty of time to do that in the two weeks since Jose Guerena was killed.
2011-06-01 "New Details: 9OYS obtains Jose Guerena's 2009 arrest record" by Sergio Avila from "KGUN 9 - Tuscon" ABC-affiliate television news
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - This video of the shooting at Jose Guerena's home has cast a huge spotlight on him and his family. A picture of Guerena has circulated where he's dressed in his marine uniform but 9OYS has just received his booking photo where he's dressed in an inmate jumpsuit.
Guerena was arrested in 2009 but never charged. 9OYS wanted to know why. Reporter Sergio Avila headed to Eloy Justice court to get the records. The documents show Guerena was arrested for drug possession, having drug paraphernalia and weapon misconduct.
9OYS also has discovered Guerena's wife, Vanessa, paid a $2500 bond to bail him out of jail but that money was returned to her when no charges were filed.
In Arizona if the county attorney doesn't file charges within 48 hours the person is set free. That's what happened to Guerena, again, 9OYS wanted to know why.
The Pinal County attorney's office released this statement on the case:
"A case regarding Mr. Jose Guerena was submitted to the Pinal County Attorney's office and following review it was declined."
The county attorney's office says Guerena was arrested with two other people and the case just didn't meet the requirements in order to charge him with a crime.
The county attorney's office says that information has already been purged from their records as is common for older and smaller cases.
Swat team attorney Mike Storie has already told KGUN9 News, although no charges were filed, this earlier arrest of three suspects shows Guerena was involved in some wrongdoing.
"They had differing accounts of how they knew each other. They had differing accounts of where they were going; where they were coming from," Storie explained. "This is typical of people who are together doing a drug deal."
"Again, this is just consistent with somebody who is a possessor of drugs, conceals drugs, and it is certainly consistent with someone who deals with drugs," Storie said.
But Storie also said that the SWAT team knew nothing of the previous arrest when it attempted to execute a search warrant at Guerena's home on May 5.
More information on Guerena's arrest will come in the police report KGUN9 News has already requested from DPS.
2011-05-12 "Pima SWAT likely had highly trained medics at fatal shooting" by Craig Smith from "KGUN 9 - Tuscon" ABC-affiliate television news
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - An ambulance crew- forced to stand by for more than an hour-- and not allowed to examine a man shot by a SWAT team.
That's what happened in the case of Jose Guereña.
The Marine veteran died a week ago after the SWAT team broke into his house to serve a search warrant.
9 On Your Side wants to know how something like this can happen when a man's life hangs in the balance- criminal or not.
It's a disturbing idea---an ambulance crew not even getting a chance to help a man with multiple gunshot wounds. But we are learning SWAT team members well trained in deadly force bring the potential to save lives too.
SWAT team members say Jose Guereña was waiting with an assault rifle when they broke into his house to serve a drug warrant.
He didn't fire, but they did and hit him multiple times.
His wife remembers seeing him in a pool of blood, making noises that made her think he still had a chance.
She called 911.
Call records from Drexel Heights Fire rescue say an ambulance was on the way at 9:43am. It arrived just two minutes later. But the ambulance crew was told to wait outside.
Law enforcement usually holds back medical crews to be sure they're not walking into danger.
The Drexel Heights crew waited until 10:59, then heard Code 900. The radio call that means they were no longer needed. The man was dead.
They had waited an hour and fourteen minutes.
Compare that to the chaos of the January 8th mass shooting. Even with a large open area to secure, medical crews only waited 12 minutes to be allowed in.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona is a Pima Sheriffs deputy. He helped develop medical training for Pima SWAT deputies that's become a national model.
Dr. Carmona can't comment on this specific case but says all Pima SWAT officers have military style first aid training and SWAT teams have unarmed, trained paramedics or EMTs who would be available to help anyone at the scene.
Doctor Carmona says they would normally be there with the team but the team members with the most advanced medical training are not law enforcement officers so they would likely wait outside unless team members cleared them to come in and it's still not clear exactly what actions they took.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "And this is for the benefit of the officers or perhaps even a suspect who's wounded in the course of things?
Dr. Carmona: "Absolutely Craig, the care is not relegated according to good guy or bad guy or suspect. Whoever needs the care, gets the care as quickly and safely as possible."
Again, Doctor Carmona is talking generally, not about the specifics of this case. The Sheriff's Department is not commenting for now other than to say the case is under investigation.