Note: Case points up once again the need for a protocol between law
enforcement and citizens.
Will hold off on comments on this particular case for now.
FAMILY'S LAWYER: AUTHORITIES TRYING TO DISCREDIT MAN
Attorney: Tucson man killed by SWAT linked to home invasion case
Fernanda Echavarri, Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Thursday, May 19,
2011 2:00 pm | Comments
Video: Family attorney discusess the incident
From Bobbie Jo Buel, editor of the Star:
The lawyer for the family is having a press conference later this
afternoon. Once we have both his statements and those of Mr. Storie,
we will permit reader comments again.
Generally, we do not permit reader comments on crime stories because
the discussion too often devolves into conclusions about the guilt of
a defendant. That's up to juries and judges to decide after hearing
In keeping with our practice, we did not permit reader comments on
the first several stories about the Guerena shooting. We began
permitting comments after the sheriff's department acted to seal
court records and said it would not comment until further notice.
As we said in today's editorial, police have tremendous power - even
to enter a private home. Because law-enforcement has that awesome
authority, citizens have the right to question its decision-making.
We hope you will keep that in mind as you post comments. There
The man shot and killed by Pima County SWAT officers was linked to a
home-invasion crew, the attorney representing the officers said
Michael Storie said authorities found rifles, hand guns, body armor
and a portion of a law enforcement uniform inside the house where
Jose Guerena was shot by officers serving a search warrant May 5.
"Everything they think they're going to find in there they find,"
said Storie in a news conference called a day after the Sheriff's
Department complained media reports on the incident spread
misinformation and encouraged speculation about events surrounding
The Sheriff's Department said Wednesday it would provide no details
about the case to the public until the investigation is complete.
The search warrant and court documents showing what deputies were
looking for and seized from Guerena's home have been sealed by a
judge and are unavailable to the public.
Christopher Scileppi, who is representing the Guerena family, said
nothing seized from Guerena's home was illegal and that Storie's
statements were unsupported by facts and meant to discredit Guerena's
character. Scileppi did not comment on the details of the case.
Thursday afternoon the sheriff's department declined to comment on
what the attorneys said.
All statements made by Storie on Thursday morning came from the five
SWAT officers he is representing, he said.
The five officers had "no choice but to shoot" when they breached the
front door of the house in the 7100 block of South Redwater Drive and
saw Guerena holding a rifle, Storie said.
The house was targeted as part of an investigation into home
invasions and drug rip offs. The Guerena house was among homes that
"were identified as locations where these activities were being
carried out from."
No arrests have been made from any of the other homes where SWAT
served search warrants, Storie said.
According to the SWAT members' statements all law enforcement
vehicles approaching Guerena's home had lights and sirens on and
parked in the driveway, Storie said.
Guerena's wife, Vanessa Guerena, who was inside the house with their
4-year-old son, has said she did not see or hear lights and sirens
and that Guerena thought they were being targeted for a home
invasion, which is why her husband grabbed his AR-15 rifle and told
her and their son to hide in a closet.
The raid took place at about 9:30 a.m. and Guerena, 26, was asleep
after working the graveyard shift at Asarco Mission mine, Guerena's
Storie said once parked outside the home, the lights and sirens were
turned off. An officer banged on the door for about 45 seconds while
identifying themselves as police, he said.
After that, five SWAT members broke in the front door and saw Guerena
holding a rifle at the end of a long hallway.
One officer began shooting after Guerena placed the rifle in front of
him and said "I've got something for you, I've got something for you
guys," Storie said.
The other officers at the front door of the house, also fired
All five SWAT members were shooting from just outside the home and
never entered the house, Storie said.
When asked why SWAT members did not rush in to render medical aid to
Guerena, Storie said officers on scene "have to assume that there are
other people with guns and that there are other people with body
armor inside the residence."
He said officers could not conclude Guerena was incapacitated because
Guerena fell down into a room after he was shot and officers could
not see him from the doorway.
Based on a photograph of a large blood stain inside the home,
Scileppi said, Guerena fell down in clear view of the front door and
officers could see him.
The SWAT officers fired 71 shots, striking Guerena 60 times.
The search warrant was not directed at any particular person, and
Guerena's name was not mentioned, it was targeting whoever might be
inside the residence, Storie said.
If SWAT members had been let in to the home, those inside "probably
they wouldn't have been arrested," Storie said.
While the SWAT team was at Guerena's home, another SWAT team was
serving a search warrant in a nearby home as part of the same
investigation and Storie said, a man showed up during the search and
said "you shot my relative."
Storie believes somebody called from inside Guerena's home and
alerted family members to the shooting.
Scileppi said he would not comment on those allegations until he "has
all the facts."
A portrait of Jesus Malverde, believed to be a "narco saint" was
found under Guerena's bed, Storie said. He did not know if there were
drugs found inside the home. Guerena's wife denies having that in her
According to Storie, several days before the shooting, undercover
officers in an unmarked car drove by Guerena's home to do
surveillance and 10 minutes after they drove by, they were alerted
that their license plate had been run through Motor Vehicle Division
by someone they say followed the unmarked vehicle from Guerena's home.
That was considered counter-surveillance on law enforcement, Storie
Under the Federal Privacy Act, the MVD in Arizona cannot release
information on a license plate to anyone other than to law enforcement.
Scileppi said it took two weeks for "the fourth version of the story"
and these details to emerge because "they needed to put a story out
that is going to protect them.
"Bottom line is they've had two weeks to construct a story, circle
the wagon," Scileppi said.
Scileppi asked Storie and the sheriff's department to "release
whatever information they have about the killing of Jose to help the
family know what really happened. The family wants to know the truth."
Scileppi has partnered with Patrick Broom for this case. The five
officers Storie is representing are from the Sahuarita, Marana and
Oro Valley police departments, and two from the sheriff's department.
The sheriff's SWAT team is made up of officers from different agencies.