A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
May 14th, 2011
By Dan Miller
A SWAT raid in Arizona may suggest that homes are becoming No Rights Zones.
There 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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