Background AZMEX EXTRA 13-5-11
CLAIM OF PUBLIC 'MISINFORMATION AND EMOTIONALLY-CHARGED SPECULATION'
Sheriff's Dept. defends SWAT shooting silence
Fernanda Echavarri, Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Wednesday, May 18,
2011 11:45 am | Comments
Tucson attorney Michael Storie, who represents law enforcement
officers, has called a news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to discuss
the Pima County Sheriff's Department SWAT shooting.
Storie says in a news release that he represent officers on the PCSD
SWAT involved in the fatal May 5, incident.
Storie said he will answer questions on behalf of SWAT officers
The Pima County Sheriff's Department issued a statement today trying
to explain its policy regarding the delay in information about the
SWAT raid in which a Tucson man was killed.
Here is an unedited copy of today's statement:
Officer Involved Shooting - Update
May 18, 2011
"As a result of the need for information surrounding the shooting of
Jose Guerena by members of the Pima Regional SWAT Team, the public
has received misinformation and emotionally-charged speculation.
The investigation that lead to the service of the search warrants on
May 5 is a complicated one involving multiple people suspected of
very serious crimes. Sometimes, law enforcement agencies must choose
between the desire of the public to quickly know details, and the
very real threat to innocent lives if those details are released
prematurely. Sheriff Dupnik has made it a departmental policy to be
open and forthcoming with information released to the news media.
When the decision is made to withhold information, as it has been in
this case, there is a legitimate reason for that decision. The day
the search warrant was served, we reported to the media that Mr.
Guerena fired at SWAT officers. This is what was understood at that
time. After a more detailed investigation, we learned that he pointed
his assault rifle at SWAT officers, however, the safety was on and he
could not fire. This is a clear example of erroneous information
being provided without careful investigation. Rather than risking the
release of further information, it is imperative that we complete all
aspects of this investigation.
Complicating matters is the fact that multiple agencies were involved
in this incident. The criminal investigation must be completed, in
addition to the investigation by the County Attorney's office, prior
to any administrative review of the actions of the officers involved
in the shooting. By mutual agreement, that administrative review will
include officials from the Pima County Sheriff's Department, the
Marana Police Department, the Oro Valley Police Department and the
Sahuarita Police Department. Each of these agencies had officers
involved in the shooting as members of the Pima Regional SWAT Team.
Since the Sheriff's Department has had such a long-standing practice
of open and timely communication with members of the news media, it
is understandable that questions are asked about when more
information will become available. However, it is unacceptable and
irresponsible to couch those questions with implications of secrecy
and a cover-up, not to mention questioning the legality of actions
that could not have been taken without the approval of an impartial
judge. As a law enforcement professional with decades of experience,
Sheriff Dupnik will make the decision to release the information when
the investigation is completed, the danger to innocent lives has been
mitigated, and all agencies involved have been given the opportunity
to review the actions of their personnel."
Deputy Jason S. Ogan
Public Information Officer
Pima County Sheriff's Department
Here is today's news article about the shooting:
Dupnik won't release more info about SWAT shooting of Tucson man
The Pima County Sheriff's Department will release no more information
about the circumstances surrounding the killing of Jose Guerena
during the serving of a search warrant by the department's SWAT
officers May 5 at his home.
Two weeks after the shooting the department has yet to disclose
exactly what they were searching for in the Guerena home as well as
three other residences in the area that were subjects of a drug
investigation. Court documents that show what officers were searching
for in the case have been sealed and what was seized as evidence has
also been sealed.
Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, through a department spokesman Tuesday
morning, declined an interview request.
No one from the department will comment about the case until the
investigation is complete, Deputy Jason Ogan said Tuesday. There is
no timeframe for when the investigation will be over, he said.
On May 5, five members of the SWAT team fired 71 shots at Guerena
while serving a search warrant at the 7100 block of South Redwater
Drive. He was shot 60 times.
The 26-year-old former Marine was sleeping at about 9:30 a.m. after
working the graveyard shift at Asarco's Mission Mine when his wife
woke him saying she heard noises outside and saw a man was at their
window. Guerena told his wife to hide in a closet with their 4-year-
old son, his wife said. He grabbed an AR-15 rifle and moments later
was slumped in the kitchen, mortally wounded from a hail of gunfire.
Guerena did not fire a shot and his gun had the safety on, deputies
said, after initially saying he had fired on the SWAT officers.