Indiana Court Decision Makes Less Sense than Before

May 14th, 2011

By Dan Miller

A SWAT raid in Arizona may suggest that homes are becoming No Rights Zones.

Pima Regional SWAT TeamThere are lots of questions about what happened during a SWAT raid apparently gone very wrong in Pima County, Arizona; after more than a week most of them have not been answered.  However, combine the news as reported with Thursday’s decision by the Indiana Supreme Court that “that there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers. (emphasis added)” and it gets a bit frightening.

According to a report,

Jose Guerena, 26, a [twenty-six year old] former Marine [with two overseas tours of duty], was sleeping after the graveyard shift at Asarco Mission mine about 9:30 a.m. when his wife woke him saying she heard noises outside and a man was at their window. Guerena told his wife to hide in a closet with their 4-year-old son, his wife has said. He grabbed an AR-15 rifle and moments later was slumped in the kitchen, mortally wounded from a hail of gunfire.

For about five minutes after Guerena was shot, his wife stays on the phone trying to explain what happened and asking for an ambulance.

More than a week later, few details about the investigation that brought the SWAT team to the home Guerena shared with his wife and their two young sons are known. Details of the search warrant have not been made public and deputies would not comment on what was seized from the home.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department has provided no details about the investigation that prompted the raid and little information about the moments leading up to 71 gunshots being fired at Guerena, whose gun had the safety on. He was shot 60 times, doctors told the family. Initially the Sheriff’s Department said Guerena fired at officers, but they retracted that this week. Drexel Heights provided audio of the 911 calls after the Star filed a public records request.

Vanessa Guerena, 27, continuously asks the operator to “please, please” send somebody to help her husband in a call in which she seems desperate, frustrated and panicked and says she could hear people talking outside.

There seems to have been delay in sending medical help, apparently because the deputies on the scene asked that it be delayed.

The operator tells Guerena help is on the way, but they’re still trying to figure out what happened.

“I don’t know, that’s it, whatever I told you, that’s it,” Guerena says.

Just after the five-minute mark, Guerena’s end of the line goes silent.

The two dispatchers spend about four minutes talking to each other and calling out for Guerena while trying to figure out if the call is coming from the same residence where the warrant was served. At the end of the 10-minute 911 call, a dispatcher says she has confirmation that Guerena is outside with deputies on the scene.

Other audio records Drexel Heights released to the Star Friday indicate the agency dispatched a medical unit at 9:43 a.m. but was told by the Sheriff’s Department to hold off.

Dispatchers said there were several addresses where the SWAT team was going that morning and they were not sure if this house was one of them, the audio shows.

The Sheriff’s Department dispatcher said she had not received any requests for medical help from deputies on scene. Drexel Heights fire dispatcher asked: “You don’t want us going in, right?” The sheriff’s operator then said: “I don’t know what is going on. You guys go ahead and hold off until we know what it’s going to be.”

The Sheriff’s Department operator said people at the scene wanted the medical help to stay back because they might be dealing with a “barricaded subject.”

It is often reasonable to employ a presumption that the police are in the right and that those who resist them are in the wrong. Still, there are sufficient circumstances here, including “a hail of” seventy-one shots fired by the SWAT team and sixty bullet holes in the deceased, whose rifle still had the safety on, at least to question that presumption. One wonders what additional details will be released when by the Sheriff’s Department; unless and until satisfactory explanations are provided, those questions will persist.  That, obviously, is not conducive to confidence in authority. There are also sufficient circumstances to raise further questions about the thinking behind the Indiana Supreme Court ruling. Home = Castle or Home = No Rights Zone?

(This article was first published at The PJ Tatler.)

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5 Responses to “Indiana Court Decision Makes Less Sense than Before”

  1. Tom Carter |

    It seems very unlikely that this horrific case will attract much mainstream media interest. The victim wasn’t black, he wasn’t on welfare, he was working and making his own living, and he was a Marine veteran. The Pima County Sheriff, Clarence Dupnik, is the liberal Democrat airhead who helped start the inane babble about violent rhetoric by conservatives in the aftermath of the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords. The New York Times and their ilk won’t pay much, if any, attention to the incident. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and the usual cast of race hustlers won’t hold rallies in front of the victim’s house. As far as all these characters are concerned, “nothing to see here, move along.”

    There’s one anomaly, though — Daily Kos has a post that’s very critical of the SWAT team and the sheriff’s department. They’ve probably already banned the author from future posting.

    However, there is one obvious scandal that might attract liberal media attention. In photos of the Pima Regional SWAT Team there isn’t a single black face! If that doesn’t scream discrimination, what does? But wait … Sheriff Dupnik is credited with creating the SWAT team, so that means by definition that there can’t be any racism involved. Things are so hard to figure out these days….

  2. Brian |

    Dan, I don’t know that this is anything new, though it does seem to be getting more prevalent.

    A couple months after I resigned in 1998, a group of 4 patrolmen and one sergeant in Houston, on a tip from a drunk informant whom they had never used before, entered, sans warrant, the home of Pedro Oregon and subsequently killed him. One of the officers had an accidental discharge as they were entering Oregon’s room, and the other 4 officers thought that Oregon was shooting at them, so they opened fire on Oregon, killing him.

    Of course LULAC and other professional misanthropes were up in arms about the racial nature of the issue rather than the constitutional nature of the issue.

    The 4 officers and sergeant were fired, with the sergeant later being convicted of criminal trespass, an “A” misdemeanor in Texas. I don’t remember if the DA back then was Chuck ROsenthal or Johnny Holmes, but either way, they did the right thing by presenting the case to a Grand Jury just once, and a “No true bill” was returned. I imagine that someone with less integrity, like a Nifong, would have just kept fishing for grand juries until he got an indictment.

    I’ll reserve judgment until there’s more information on this case here, but it really doesn’t look good for the sheriff’s deputies at this point. I doubt that there’ll be any criminal culpability on their part, but the civil case already sounds compelling.

  3. Dan Miller |

    I don’t know what happened either, but it doesn’t look pleasant and it does seem to be getting worse.

    We went to Over There during the First World War. We went over there again in the second. Now, after a few more “over theres,” we are deeply involved in different “over theres.” When I see this sort of stuff, I wonder why.

    There may or may not be indictments and maybe even convictions. That’s important. However, it’s even more important that we think about what has happened, what continues to happen and consider what we can do about it. I don’t mean fighting off SWAT teams. If a 26 year old ex-Marine can’t do it, neither can I and neither can most others. We can, however, take back control of our government and get our country moving, again, in the right direction.

    If we don’t? It probably won’t be very pleasant.

  4. Dan Miller |

    George M Cohan and his ilk were not common folk. Where are they now? Probably not at the White House.

  5. Opinion Forum » Good Supreme Court Decision on Warrantless Searches |

    […] intrusion. It in no way blesses anything even remotely approaching the sort of conduct in which the Pima County, Arizona SWAT team apparently […]

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