I have held off on posting on the shooting (and apparent murder) of Jose Guerena for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are my abject fury over how the situation was handled, and my hope that some kind of mitigating information would eventually surface.
Well, my fury has not abated, and no information has been found to excuse the SWAT team from shooting at him 71 times and hitting him 22 times, killing him, so here we are. Instead of inundating this post with an incoherent, irrational flood of expletive-laced ranting and raving, however, I will do my best to simply point you towards people who know far more about these events than I do.
(1) There appears to be no organization at all. The officers are not organized into an entry stack, they are not apparently taking pre-determined positions, and they mill about, apparently not knowing what should happen next.
(10) That the shield man never actually entered the home, but merely stood in the doorway, perfectly silhouetted, in the very center of a textbook fatal funnel speaks very poorly of the team’s training and experience. It’s not clear how he ended up on his back in that doorway. Did he trip and fall? Perhaps he was knocked off his feet by his teammates, eager to get in on the action. It is also possible that the fourth officer who hastily ran up to the door and thrust his handgun between two of his fellow officers may have fired it so closely to the head and face of the shield man that he was momentarily stunned–or injured–and knocked off his feet. Other officers block the view of the camera, so it is not, from the video alone, possible to know what happened.
(11) Perhaps the most egregious and telling indicator of little or no training, planning, experience and ability is the officer who runs to the doorway, thrusts his handgun between two fellow officers, likely shooting very close to their ears and eyes, to fire off some “me too” rounds. It is highly unlikely that this officer could have had any idea of his target, if he saw one at all. To be completely fair, he was probably acting as police officers do, tending toward action rather than inaction, but proper SWAT training teaches only appropriate, effective action. There is absolutely no room for “me too” shooting, on the street or during SWAT operations.
And from the same man:
If these rounds did not fly more or less down a straight hallway and out the back wall of the home, if they had to penetrate intermediate walls in their path, it is a virtual certainty that fully metal jacketed, over-penetrating ammunition was uniformly used. This is particularly so when the hits in the back fence and the wall of the neighbor’s stucco home are considered. Properly frangible ammunition would have been unlikely to penetrate the outer wall of the home, and those few rounds that did would have almost certainly been so fragmented as to have been unable to do more than bounce off the fence or neighboring homes. The holes visible in the video were made by bullets flying straight paths and retaining considerable energy—energy sufficient to seriously injure or kill–even after fully penetrating the Guerena home.
It is unlikely that some of the rounds fired will ever be recovered. Keep in mind that in any police shooting, the police have an obligation to be able to reconstruct precisely who fired each shot, from precisely which position, the flight path of each bullet and its final resting place. They should be able to tell which weapon ejected each piece of expended brass, and where each came to rest in respect to the weapon firing it. Due to the sheer volume of fire alone, this case would be an absolute nightmare for the evidence technicians trying to reconstruct events. In fact, there may be powerful institutional pressure to be inexact.
I’ve often said, particularly on those occasions when I narrowly escaped injury during my police days, that God protects cops and idiots. That was surely the case here. It is absolutely amazing that Mrs. Guerena and her child and neighbors were not injured or killed. It is equally surprising that the police did not shoot themselves. It would be interesting, by the way, for the local media to confirm that assumption by checking local hospital treatment records for the day of the shooting. While I have no concrete evidence that any officer was injured, I would not be at all surprised.
I wonder what my local sheriff’s department would think of me. You see, they’re currently using the fact that an OIF Marine veteran had five firearms and body armor – most of the latter in storage in his garage – to paint him as a bad guy. The clincher, though? "Law enforcement uniform items," as it’s been described in the media. What exactly does this consist of? A Border Patrol hat. None of it illegal – nothing found in his house was illegal.
Either Jose Guerena was not only a major drug trafficker, but also a busy home invading bee – while he also pulled down 12 hour graveyard shifts at the local Asarco mine – or this was a fishing expedition based on circumstantial evidence, poorly planned and executed by SWAT officers who didn’t know what they were shooting at, why they were shooting, or even that his wife and child were in the house – only that they needed to empty their magazines down that hallway. It may be all of the above, for all I know.
From a police veteran:
Jose Guerena was related to these people and lived in fairly close proximity to then. They were family members. As a result, Jose was targeted in this investigation and killed because of his DNA, not because he did anything illegal.
And from the same:
And at this point I’d like to add one other reason Jose was killed. Remember the statement of Sgt. Krygier who said they were warned about Jose’s house being the deadly one? I think these folks did their due diligence and knew Jose was a former Marine, combat vet, likely to have weapons, and likely to behave in the fashion he did. They went in ‘knowing’ and having been forewarned that Jose was likely to be an issue.
They still went in stupid and uncoordinated, despite what Masaad Ayoob claims. Remember folks, he makes a living testifying for shooters like the ones on this team. The rest of the professionals commenting in the blogosphere don’t make a penny from providing our analysis. Officer flibberty-gibbet had a negligent discharge because they were poorly trained and anticipating a shoot-out. That’s why his finger was on the trigger before he even started moving into the house.
From Random Nuclear Strikes:
5) Jose Guerena was targeted because his relatives had criminal records and were suspects in criminal activity, and he owned firearms and body armor that could have been used in that activity.
Well, I, too, have relatives with criminal records, own far more firearms than he did, and if you count my $35 surplus German flak jackets, I have more body armor than he did as well. How many of you can say the same?
From an ongoing analysis of the killing:
Our troops in Afghanistan are not allowed to shoot bomb-planting terrorists unless the terrorists shoot first, yet here in America the police are authorized to mow down (without warning) a citizen in his own home who hasn’t even taken the safety off his rifle?
And from my own comments on the situation:
The worst part of this is that they have absolutely no excuse for their craptacular performance. They were not under fire. They were not even threatened. And yet they are responsible a hit ratio just a little better than the MLB average… only they were employing deadly weapons at the time.
Just to leave you in the right frame of mind, Jose Guerena is not alone:
We’re rapidly heading for a world in which the whole wolves/sheep/sheepdogs = bad guys/innocents/good guys paradigm breaks down.
Instead, cops are properly now seen by civilians as threats. They have the capacity to kill you, and sometimes do. Threat does not = sheepdog. Threat = wolf.
While it is taking every ounce of self-control to limit myself to the following comment, let me just say this: I guess our country had a good run, but welcome to the police state. When an apparently law-abiding citizen and veteran can be gunned down in his own home for owning legal property and being unfortunately related to a family of allegedly law-breaking pikers, this "America" experiment of ours is well and truly over.