Brodesky: Tucson deserves to know more about Guerena shooting
Opinion by Josh Brodesky Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Saturday, May
21, 2011 7:00 pm |
Maybe, as it's been alleged, Jose Guerena was part of a home-invasion
ring with family members, ripping and running with body armor and
assault weapons, posing as a cop.
But all we know, more than two weeks after SWAT officers shot him 60
times, is that Guerena was a Marine who served in Iraq and had no
criminal record. We know he worked the night shift at the Asarco
Mission Mine, and he was a father and husband. We know that what SWAT
officers said they found in Guerena's home — guns, body armor, a
piece of law enforcement clothing, a portrait of Jesus Malverde,
"the narco saint," under his bed — might be suggestive of home
invasions, but certainly are not illegal.
Could Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik have bungled the
explanation for this shooting any worse? His department first said
Guerena fired at the SWAT officers. Then it said he didn't. The
officers now say he raised his gun with the safety on and pointed it
at the officers. And since they said that, Dupnik has refused to
comment on what went down.
"I have to do what I think is right to protect the case to ensure
that it has the opportunity to progress where we think it should go,"
he told me Friday, explaining his silence.
Dupnik said he was withholding comment because his department is
continuing with its criminal investigation into the alleged home-
invasion ring. Meanwhile, the Pima County Attorney's Office is
investigating the shooting. And a shooting board, comprised of
commanders from the various agencies involved with the SWAT incident,
is also investigating. Dupnik said it wouldn't make any sense to talk
to the public before talking to the shooting board.
On top of the wall of silence, court documents and the search warrant
for the home have been sealed. The Star plans to sue for those records.
Dupnik said opening up those documents would put someone's life at
risk. An informant? Presumably, but he wouldn't say.
"I don't know when they are going to be unsealed, if ever," he said.
"Those are the real sensitive parts of why we are having difficulty
with trying to put information out publicly — because we don't want
to get somebody killed."
That would make sense, except Michael Storie, the attorney for the
SWAT officers, gave a press conference Thursday to provide details of
the May 5 shooting.
When I asked Dupnik if anything Storie said at that presser
undermined the criminal investigation or other concerns, all he said
So then why not at least release that information?
After all, Dupnik said he understands why the public has questions
about a shooting where officers fired 71 rounds in seven seconds. And
he said he understands that "we gave some bad information on a very
But clearly he doesn't. Otherwise we wouldn't have ended up with
Storie tap dancing for reporters, explaining how the shooting went down.
Among other things, Storie said Guerena raised his AR-15 rifle and
said, "I have something for you. I have something for you guys."
Two of the officers thought they saw the rifle fire. Why? No one
knows. Some of the possible explanations Storie gave — The muzzle
flash of their own guns reflected off the scope of his; Their
gunshots hit Guerena's gun, sending sparks flying — make no sense
because they would have happened after the cops started shooting.
At some point a SWAT officer holding a shield fell, and the other
officers thought he had been shot. More shots were fired. The cops
backed away from the home. And Guerena died while his wife pleaded
with 911 for medical help.
Storie — no surprise here — sees this as "a clear-cut case" on the
shooting and on Guerena.
The guns, the law enforcement clothing, the portrait and the body
armor make a nifty equation.
"Put it together, and when you have drug ripoffs that occasionally
happen where people disguise themselves as law enforcement officers,
it all adds up," he said.
And there is the alleged threat of Guerena pointing the gun at the
"They had no choice but to shoot. None. They are faced with a weapon
pointed at them. What other choice do they have?"
For his part, Dupnik said eventually, as the process plays out, "You
will see that we are not hiding anything."
Well, then, show us. A man was shot 60 times in his own home, and we
still don't know why. Guerena, and the community, deserve more
answers than this.
Contact columnist Josh Brodesky at 573-4242 or firstname.lastname@example.org