Let me add a disclaimer before I post something else about police: I’m pro-police. As a rule, they don’t make enough money or get enough respect. They have a very difficult job that is regulated to the nth degree by laws that are sometimes beyond asinine. So I’m not exactly Tom Morello here. I’m just saying that sometimes, legal rights of citizens can get lost in the shuffle of a police raid or some other such situation. I’m not anti-police. I’m anti-rights violations.
Shortly after the January shootings involving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik made statements blaming right-wing rhetoric for the shootings. He did this in spite of the fact that, at the time, there was no evidence linking the shootings to any right-wing causes. When the news came out that the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, was actually mentally unbalanced and had no particular left- or right-wing views, Dupnik remained silent.
Four months after the Tucson shootings, Dupnik’s department is again in the news. This time, an Iraq War veteran was shot to death in his own home by Dupnik’s SWAT team. The man, Jose Guerena, 26, was shot 60 times during a raid.
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.
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?”
Asked if law enforcement was inside or outside the house, she told the operator, according to a transcript of the call, that they were inside. “They were … going to shoot me. And I put my kid in front of me.”
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. [I would imagine it takes much less than one hour to die from 60 gunshot wounds.]
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.”
How dare the press have the freedom to question a member of the government!