Pima County Tax Victims to Indemnify Murder of Jose Guerena

William Norman Grigg
Sep. 09, 2013

Jose Guerena, a 26-year-old father of two young boys, was murdered in his Tucson, Arizona home in May 2011 by a state-licensed death squad called the Pima County SWAT team. The government afflicting Pima County has announced that it will offer tax victims residing therein the privilege of indemnifying that murder by underwriting a settlement with the victim’s family.

Jose was sleeping after finishing a graveyard shift at a local copper mine when he heard his terrified wife, Vanessa, scream that there were armed men on their property. Jose, an honorably discharged Marine who served two tours in Iraq, told Vanessa to take their four-year-old son, Jose, Jr., and hide in the closet. He grabbed his legally obtained AR-15 rifle and placed himself between his family and the intruders, where he died following a 71-shot fusillade.

The home invaders, being police officers, were very poor marksmen, which accounts for the fact that only 22 of the shots actually hit the victim, and none of the wounds was fatal — if immediate medical care had been provided. The SWAT team included a medic who had both the ability and the legal responsibility to provide aid. Instead, the team turned away paramedics who arrived shortly after the shooting in response to Vanessa’s frantic 911 call. They then  assaulted Vanessa after she had tearfully pleaded with them to help her dying husband, and delivered her to be interrogated by detectives about the contents of the home — which underscored the fact that the search warrant used to justify the SWAT raid was invalid, since it didn’t accuse Jose of a specific crime, or list specific items being sought.

While Vanessa was being abused, and Jose was bleeding to death, the couple’s traumatized four-year-old son was left alone in the home, because the raiders — restrained by the sacred imperative of officer safety — refused to enter the home and retrieve the youngster until they were sure that his father was dead. Jose, Jr. eventually staggered out of the home by himself, most likely after witnessing the death rattle of the loving father who had shielded him, and his mother, with his body.

According to the Pima County Sheriff’s Office, Jose Guerena was the “muscle” of a local marijuana smuggling ring. No evidence to substantiate that claim existed at the time of the May 2011 raid, and none has been produced since. The Sheriff’s Office had kept Jose under surveillance and was aware of the fact that he was working the graveyard shift at the Asarco cooper mine, which means he would have had neither the time nor the energy to moonlight as a drug kingpin — and if he had been a successful marijuana entrepreneur, he wouldn’t have had to slave away in a copper mine. The affidavit requesting a search warrant was cankered with similar contradictions, and riddled with other implausibilities. In fact, the Sheriff’s Office never bothered to get its story straight long after the lethal raid.

After Jose was murdered, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the intellectually stunted figurehead commanding the Pima County Death Squad, defamed the victim by claiming hat he was part of a “very violent organization.” Yet more than a year after his Einsatzgruppen slaughtered Jose, some of Dupnik’s relatively housebroken minions — wearing conventional attire, and eschewing the familiar paramilitary pageantry — carried out arrests of some of Jose’s relatives after they had been charged with narcotics offenses.

No evidence was ever found implicating Jose in an offense. The raid was unwarranted, and by allowing the victim to bleed to death the SWAT operators committed second degree murder under Arizona law. The County DA, predictably, ruled that the use of lethal force was “justified,” which means that he will not prosecute Jose Guerena’s murderers. Thanks to the pernicious doctrine of “qualified immunity,” the killers won’t face professional or civil sanctions. The subsidized civil settlement with Guerna’s widow and now-fatherless sons will obviate the need even for a token act of contrition, let alone genuine repentance, on the part of those who murdered a father for the supposed offense of defending his family against a home invasion.

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