The SWAT team that gunned down a former Marine in his Tucson, Ariz., home was cleared today of any wrongdoing in the incident.
Jose Guerena, 26, was killed in a hail of bullets from the SWAT team, which broke down the door to his home on May 5 while trying to serve a search warrant as part of a home invasion probe.
Guerena did not fire a single shot in the incident, but Pima County Chief Criminal Deputy Attorney David Berkman said in the report issued today that the five SWAT team members were justified in using deadly force because the former Marine pointed his weapon at them.
This territory is well-worn by Radley Balko, so I won't waste time recapping all the reasons why a breaking down someone's door in the middle of the night to serve a damn drug warrant is a really bad idea, or how someone who has no reasonable expectation of having this happen to them (i.e., someone who is not in the habit of engaging in behaviors for which they call in the SWAT team) might reasonably assume that the masked, heavily armed men breaking into his house in the middle of the night constitute a serious threat to himself and his family, and react accordingly.
What galls me about this particular case is this:
"A close examination of the rifle revealed it appeared to have been damaged by being fired upon from such an angle that it must [em. added] have been pointed toward officers,"
This is pure bullshit.
If you have multiple people firing at (and hitting) you, your position (and therefore the position of anything you are holding) can change rather rapidly. He could have been in the process of dropping the gun, falling to the floor, or any combination of things that could result in bullets striking the gun he was holding in a (presumably) parallel, grazing fashion.
Which isn't to say that Guerena didn't point his gun at the officers--the only person that could tell us that for sure is conveniently dead--just that you cannot prove such a thing by merely analyzing the way the officers' bullets hit his gun. And to assert so makes the officers' version of events seem that much more suspect.