The Pima County Sheriff's Office has released various audio files and documents, including the helmet cam video below, pertaining to the botched raid in which 5 Pima County SWAT team members shot and killed 26-year old Iraq war veteran Jose Guerena. Search warrants and affidavits remain sealed.
The police union lawyer representing the SWAT team, Michael Storie, claims that the video clearly contradicts Vanessa Guerena's account that SWAT did not properly identify themselves before breaking down the door and opening fire.
"The person is now knocking on the door, and giving verbal commands as far as announcing in Spanish and in English who they are, you see him (SWAT officer) knocking," Storie said. "Yeah, you watch the video and clearly you hear sirens, you see them (SWAT) approach, you see them knock and announce several times. Clearly, anyone in the area will know police were there."
Yeah, we will watch the video Mike!
First of all, contrary to Lt. O'Connor earlier claim that they came "in very high profile [with] lights and sirens," I count approximately 8 seconds of siren max. Turning it on, off, then on again, makes it sound a lot like a car alarm too. If I heard that same sound for the same few seconds from the inside my house, I would assume a neighbor accidentally set off their car alarm, or possibly a house alarm, but not the cops.
Second, while I did hear an unnamed officer say "lights" when the video begins, I don't see lights reflecting off anything in the background as I would expect. I don't know if they turned the lights on or off. For that matter, I don't know the proper procedure regarding the lights. It seems to me however, that they should be on. At the very least to warn innocent bystanders to stay the hell away.
Did the SWAT team clearly "knock and announce several times" as claimed? I've listened to it over and over again, but all I can hear is a radio blaring in the background and some guy saying "[inaudible] bang, bang, bang" over the radio. After what appears to be a timid knock on the door, however, I think I do hear them announce something. But I can't say for sure.
Radley Balko doesn't seem to be sure about this either, saying he thinks he hears "a man shouting something that sounds like 'police' and 'search warrant', but it’s difficult to hear." What about you? Please tell us if you hear anything.
I count only about 8 seconds between the knock and door breach too, which is far short of the 15 seconds claimed by Mike Storie. Then once the Pima County Regional SWAT team breaches the door, they act less like a professional SWAT team, and more like a panicked Scooby Doo and the Gang dressed up in costumes.
Hey now ... Look, I'm no expert on tactical skills, nor do I play one on the Internet. So, I'll turn it over to a real expert, Operator Dan (read the comments too):
After that the breach team breaks open the door and then the entry team moves up to the door way. At this point, one of the deputies (looks like the one on the far left) has a negligent discharge and the rest of team opens up. As we all knew, they crowded the doorway (fatal front) but in what appears to contradict some earlier statements it looks like the guy with the shield fell down after a lull in the shooting, not as soon as the first officer had a negligent discharge.
However, the most disturbing part of the video to me involves the breach team. After the shooting starts, one of the breachers appears to run up to the door, draw his pistol, brace himself against a member of the entry team, and fire his pistol one-handed into house. What kind of Rambo-shit was that? Also, it appears multiple members of the team were dry after they shot Guerena, which would have made them unable to deal with any other shooters in the house, especially in the fatal front.
Overall, this does not make the SWAT look any better.
What if this happened to you?
After working 12 exhausting hours in a mine, you finally get home as your wife and kids are getting out of bed. As anyone with kids knows, there's no chance you're going straight to bed in this situation either. But once you get the older child off to school, the house quiets down, and you hit the bed falling fast asleep.
Now, you're inside the house, behind a couple walls, sleeping, and your youngest son is most likely watching cartoons on tv. So, based on everything you've seen in the helmet cam video above:
- Would you have known that these were cops breaking into your home as your panicked wife woke you up quickly?
- When your wife saw that gun pointing in the window seconds before waking you, could it have been that her relatives who were murdered by armed intruders just a year ago were in the back of her mind?
- Would a trained and experienced soldier knowingly take on a SWAT team, without bothering to release the safety on his gun?
- Is this the freedom our veterans are fighting for?
Furthermore, if Jose Guerena was a genuine suspect, why not just pick him up at work or en route and get a search warrant while he's in custody? What's the purpose of these violent raids dressed in military gear?
Then again, being that Congress refuses to declare war, any war for that matter, is it possible they've launched a war on the American people of which we better catch onto fast?
Let's face the music. We reap what we sow. The tragic death of Jose Guerena is just another sad, yet all too predictable, cost of our "virtuous" War on Drugs.
I'll follow-up with more details on the case soon. For now, I'll leave you with some thoughts by CDR Salamander:
Let me repeat - it is a blight on our national honor that we have "Serve & Protect" police who like to dress up like what they think special forces are supposed to dress like and wage war on the American people.
If they want to be a soldier - then they should join the National Guard or regular Army.
Police have zero reason to dress like some South American paramilitary death squad. Visuals matter.
Dressing like you just maxed out your credit card on adds from the back of Soldier of Fortune magazine doesn't make you tough or effective.
It makes you look like an perfect example of the abuse of police power that we largely fought the American Revolution over.
All of this from a mindless "war on drugs" executed my mindless "public servants."
Slightly longer version of the helmet cam video: