More on the killing of Jose Guerena

Remember the former Marine killed in his home by a SWAT team? Courtesy of N.U.G.U.N., we have a few more details from The Huffington Post. There are a couple of interesting points.

First, the Sheriff’s Office originally stated the raid was part of a marijuana investigation. Now, it appears that their most recent statement is that Guerena was “linked” to a “home-invasion crew,” and they are claiming that police found rifles, handguns, body armor, and a “portion of a law-enforcement uniform” in Guerena’s house. So, we have a significant change in the narrative – much like when they originally claimed he shot first and then later admitted he never even took the safety off – combined with a weak attempt to imply that several perfectly legal items that a soldier might be expected to own are somehow indicative of involvement in criminal activity. As the family’s attorney, Chris Scileppi said, “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.”

Second, we see one of the Sheriff’s Office’s statements is shown to be completely false. Their attorney previously claimed that

“This is done with sirens going, lights going.  so with all this happening, sirens going, lights going, the Bearcat, which is clearly a marked vehicle, is parked right directly in the driveway blocking the exit of the residents’ vehicle. […] All of the neighbors know what is going on.  They hear the sirens.  They see the lights.  Anyone who’s paying attention or is even alive in that neighborhood knows police are on the scene. [emphasis mine]

And another interview with an official spokesman from the Sheriff’s Office says the same thing.

“The neighbors have been interviewed…. They said that the lights and sirens were on.  Were they actually on?  Did the neighbors hear that?  This has been consistent.  The neighbors said they heard the officers yelling, screaming, ‘Police! Sheriff’s Department!’ Lights sirens… We’ll take this case to the County Attorney’s office.”

There is now strong evidence that this is an outright lie.

“We spoke with several of the neighbors,” [Ray Epps, a retired Marine sergeant from Mesa, Arizona and president of the Arizona chapter of Oath Keepers] 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.” [emphasis mine]

One of the stories I previously linked to has been updated with what is supposedly a helmet-cam video of the actual raid (I’ve added the video to the bottom of this post, as well). From the video, it seems the police did in fact run a siren for about eight seconds before breaking down the door, with a pause of about eighteen seconds before breaking it open. You can also hear someone shouting “police”, apparently over a loudspeaker, though the sound quality on this video is not very good. It’s about seven seconds between the time the door is opened to the time the police start firing.

The “pounding on the door” seems to be limited to two strikes on the door and attempting to turn the handle, and they only allowed eight seconds after that for someone to answer the door before breaking it open.

One thing that’s interesting to me is how casual the officers appear to be in that video while they are serving what is allegedly a high-risk search warrant. There seems to be no concern at all about any of the dangers one would normally associate with a “high-risk” warrant. The team member who knocked on the door even goes wandering around in clear sight of the windows and front door with his rifle slung over his back, and he and another team member can be seen completely turning their backs on the residence shortly before the shooting starts.

So, that’s one outright falsehood that the Sheriff’s Office has put out, and at least one significant change in the story, along with an obvious attempt to smear the victim’s reputation. On the other side, we see that two other statements by the police, alleged to be false by opponents, are supported by video evidence.

If the perceived risk was as low as the SWAT team’s behaviour in the video would seem to indicate, maybe they would have been better off serving the warrant in a more conventional manner?

The lies and changing story put out by the Sheriff’s Office make this look like murder. The video of the raid shows evidence that he should have realized that it was the police – though the fact that he had recently had family killed in a false police raid may explain why he reacted as he did. The big question now is whether a SWAT raid was even necessary, or was it done to justify the team’s existence?

There’s a good list of stories on this killing here, by one of the local tv stations.


[Source: Huffington Post article, retrieved 5/27/11]
[Source: KGUN TV stories (#1 and #2), retrieved 5/27/11]

(h/t: N.U.G.U.N.)

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  1. nugun

     /  May 27, 2011

    Well, it does seem they did have the sirens on for a few seconds. Though that siren sounded a lot more like a car alarm going off than a normal police siren. Wasn’t much of a knock. And far from the original comment that they knocked loudly for

    I could almost hear something in the background there. Not sure if it was an officer or Guerena.

    Here is what I believe happened. I believe the SWAT team figured they’d roll in like a piece of cake. They’d briefly turn on the siren, knock softly a few taps in order to claim they’d done what they should. Then just knock the door in and tell everyone to go prone.

    Instead, they knock open the door and see their suspect armed. They simply opened fire without any hesitation. I understand that the SWAT team wants to go home at night. But police have to take the high road.

    Their tactics seem pretty dumb as well. 5 team members at the door. What if there were other aggressors, they’d simply exit the back. Or even come around and flank the officers. Even if Guerena was everything the SWAT team says. This was pretty much a botched raid.

    • I think what you believe happened is exactly what happened. I think they fired when they saw the gun, without assessing the situation and without considering that Guerena might not have realized what was going on. They also didn’t seem to be taking the raid seriously at all, and running into an armed homeowner was probably a real surprise.

      Once the first cop panicked and pulled his trigger it was all over but the lies.

      The siren sounded real to me – but I’ve been exposed to several different brands over the years – I can usually tell my rescue squad’s vehicles from the police (and cruisers from the motorcycles) just from the different sound of the sirens – so that may just be me.

      I had to crank the volume way up to even tell that they were saying police – I don’t know if it was just bad audio pickup or if it just wasn’t very loud in that location.

      I do find it interesting that the Oath Keepers interviews found all the neighbors saying they didn’t hear anything, and that none of them were willing to give names.

      Regardless of what the video shows, the whole thing stinks to high heaven, on many levels.

  1. “a couple of traffic tickets and no criminal history” « N.U.G.U.N. – New User of GUNs
  2. Breakdown of the Guerena SWAT raid « Curses! Foiled Again!

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