A few weeks ago, I learned of the story of former Marine Jose Guerena, who is became a victim of the Pima County Sheriff’s Swat Team as part of an investigation over marijuana trafficking. This story is finally picking up more traction. Jose Guerena had no prior criminal record and possessed no drugs in his home. His wife and four year old son were in the home as well.
As the Huffington Post reports:
“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, 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) 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.”
SWAT Teams and their ability to barge into homes as a “no knock entry” is a by product of the War on Drugs. As Kenneth Nunn explains:
“The potential danger of allowing police officers to enter homes and businesses without announcing their identity and purpose has been well-known since colonial times. Officers may startle residents who may seek to defend their homes. Officers may inadvertently harm residents or innocent bystanders by the use of force necessary to effect the sudden entry of targeted buildings. Breaking into buildings through surprise and stealth seems like a tactic better suited to an occupying army, then to civilian peace officers.”
And in Arizona where citizens have recently posed as law enforcement to enter homes (see Brisenia Flores case for in stance), I can understand why someone like Jose Guerena would grab his rifle to protect his family.
And all of these resources being deployed for pot?! The irony here is that it wasn’t Al Qaeda or terrorists who killed Guerena but instead government sanctioned militarized police who were on some sort of marijuana hunt. What are your thoughts?