Many police officers like to say if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide. Another mutation of this phrase is if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear. That isn’t really the case because there are numerous cases where people who’ve done nothing wrong end up being killed by the police. Sadly Jose Guerena was a victim of wrongfully aimed police aggression:
One of those homes belonged to 26-year-old Jose Guerena and his wife, Vanessa Guerena. The couple’s 4-year-old son was also in the house at the time. Their 6-year-old son was at school.
As the SWAT team forced its way into his home, Guerena, a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, armed himself with his AR-15 rifle and told his wife and son to hide in a closet. As the officers entered, Guerena confronted them from the far end of a long, dark hallway. The police opened fire, releasing more than 70 rounds in about 7 seconds, at least 60 of which struck Guerena. He was pronounced dead a little over an hour later.
Many people who’ve mentioned this article to me are more than happy to point out that Mr. Guerena was at fault because he armed himself. The same people who claim that also fail to realize that this event was one of those no-knock entries where the police come busting in unannounced. Likewise it appears as though Mr. Guerena never got a shot off yet was hit with 60 bullets. I’d say that’s a bit more force than necessary when dealing with a person who probably believes his house is being stormed by a local drug gang (because most people expect police officers to announced their entry with a warrant in hand).
So what is the department involved with the raid doing to compensate the family of the innocent man they murdered? They’re trying to make excuses to avoid having to compensate the family and have the officers involved arrested and tried for murder:
The Pima County Sheriff’s Office has now changed its story several times over the last few weeks. They have issued a press release (PDF) scolding the media and critics for questioning the legality of the raid, the department’s account of what happened, and the department’s ability to fairly investigate its own officers. They have obtained a court order sealing the search warrants and police affidavits that led to the raids, and they’re now refusing any further comment on the case at all. When I contacted Public Information Officer Jason Ogan with some questions, he replied via email that the department won’t be releasing any more information. On Saturday, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told Arizona Daily Star columnist Josh Brodesky that he may never release the search warrants and police affidavits. Dupnik rose to national prominence earlier this year after claiming combative political rhetoric contributed to Jared Loughner killing six people and wounding 19 others, including Rep. Gabielle Giffords, last January.
The department’s excuses for keeping all of this information under wraps make little sense. In his May 18 press release (PDF), for example, Ogan wrote, “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.” Dupnik used the same line of reasoning with Brodesky. “Those are the real sensitive parts of why we are having difficulty with trying to put information out publicly–because we don’t want somebody getting killed,” Dupnik said.
Let’s take a look at this whole War on Drugs situation for a second. Several decades ago the government decided that a list of substances were verboten for production, sale, and use in the United States. They did this earlier when they prohibited alcohol from being legally produced, sold, and used in the United States but apparently didn’t learn their lesson. Much like prohibition the War on Drugs has causes a massive increase in violent crime. The rate of violent crime is far in excess of what it was before the War on Drugs so it’s safe to say the use of these verboten drugs weren’t causing violent crime at any noticeable level.
What has this War on Drugs gotten us? A large increase in violent crime, numerous instances of police officers murdering innocent people, and yet another prohibition against free individuals making decisions about what they want to put into their bodies. Yet the War on Drugs continues to be parroted by our “representatives” as a needed intervention while their propaganda machine ensures a large majority of the populace approves of it.
One thought on “If You’ve Done Nothing Wrong You Have Nothing to Fear”
I agree with all your main points, but it should be noted that the video that has been released shows it was not actually a no-knock raid. While it looks like the actual knocking was rather minimal, they did announce themselves with sirens and loudspeakers before entering.
Despite that, the whole thing still stinks. When you look at the Sheriff’s constantly shifting story, the after-the-fact attempts to smear Guerena, and the whole question of why they believed a SWAT raid was even necessary in the first place for someone with no criminal record whatsoever, much less any record of violence (though the fact that they apparently didn’t actually know who lived in the house, or that there were children present, before the raid raises the question of whether they even cared), it’s obvious that they know they screwed up royally and are in pure cover-up mode.
Looking at the video it appears that SWAT seemed to see this more as a free training opportunity than a real raid where the home might be occupied by someone who might be willing to harm police officers – yet another sign that a SWAT raid wasn’t really believed to be necessary.
The whole thing was probably just a setup to use SWAT to justify their budget, and they got caught with their pants down when someone didn’t realize they really were the police and reacted accordingly to someone breaking in his front door while his wife and kids were home. They saw the gun and someone started shooting in a panic, rather than actually evaluating the threat.
There also seems to be some “Rambo syndrome” going on. One guy in the video – who has his rifle slung on his back and is walking away from the house as the others are entering the house (another sign they weren’t very concerned about a threat) – actually draws his pistol and runs up to the door to start shooting into the home, despite the four other officers crowding the door and firing their rifles into the home. He actually was using one of the others as cover, and firing his pistol next to that officer’s head!
It was a goat rodeo that never should have happened in the first place, and now they’re trying to make it look like the shit they’re covered in is actually glory.
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