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PIMA COUNTY SHERIFF: “NO REASON TO BE CONCERNED”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 7, 2011) — A former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq was killed in his home by SWAT team members from the Pima County, AZ Sheriff’s Department on May 5, 2011. Jose Guerena was 26.
One report stated that there were 71 shots in Guerena’s body; others have said 61 or 60.
Today The Post & Email contacted the Pima County Sheriff’s Department media contact, Jason Ogan, who would not comment on the incident. Ogan instead said he would refer our request for information to Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik.
On May 18, Ogan issued a statement criticizing the media for causing “misinformation and emotionally-charged speculation” over the incident. While Ogan admitted that the initial sheriff’s department report stating that Guerena fired at the SWAT team was erroneous, he also said:
Since the Sheriff’s Department has had such a long-standing practice of open and timely communication with members of the news media, it is understandable that questions are asked about when more information will become available. However, it is unacceptable and irresponsible to couch those questions with implications of secrecy and a cover-up, not to mention questioning the legality of actions that could not have been taken without the approval of an impartial judge. As a law enforcement professional with decades of experience, Sheriff Dupnik will make the decision to release the information when the investigation is completed, the danger to innocent lives has been mitigated, and all agencies involved have been given the opportunity to review the actions of their personnel.
Today The Post & Email mentioned nothing of a cover-up; we simply asked for information and were told that only the sheriff could provide it. The initial press release claiming that Guerena shot first is still posted at the sheriff department’s website.
The Pima County Sheriff’s Department reportedly seized evidence which it kept sealed along with the search warrants involved. The Huffington Post has reported that nothing illegal was found in the home.
The search warrant was released with some redactions.
An attorney, Michael Storie, has been retained to represent the five SWAT officers. Storie has stated that Guerena had shouted, “I’ve got something for you, I’ve got something for you guys” when the SWAT team knocked on the door of Guerena’s home at approximately 9:00 that morning. Other reports have stated that Guerena had just been awakened by his wife from a deep sleep and that he grabbed his rifle, thinking that his family were victims of a home invasion.
Guerena’s wife’s 911 call stated that her husband was on the floor and that she asked emergency services to “please hurry up.” At the time she called 911, she told them that the SWAT team was outside the house and that she “could hear them talking.” Vanessa Guerena said that her husband had been asleep when the police arrived at the home. As emergency personnel instructed her to check her husband’s breathing, they also asked her to put pressure to the wound and to identify who was outside the home.
A local television station’s online news site reported that the SWAT teams refused to allow emergency services into the home, allowing Guerena to bleed to death “without help.” Another report stated that “to add insult to injury, the deputies under the command of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, blocked paramedics from approaching the scene for well over an hour, and of course that cut off any chance of Guereña surviving.”
An editorial written by a journalist for the Arizona Star asked why the Pima County Sheriff would not release the search warrant and related documents after the attorney representing the officers had already given a press conference. It has also been reported that the search warrant contained a street address but not the name or names of the suspects in what they claimed was a “home invasion” or drug ring.
Arizona Central has reported that the Pima County Sheriff’s Department had also refused to release “public documents” on Jared Loughner, the suspect in the murder of six people and the severe wounding of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The sheriff’s department allegedly withheld the names of the victims four days after the incident.
During the drafting of this report, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department returned our call requesting information and stated that the sheriff had nothing more to say at this time and referred us to statements made previously to Channel 4 and Channel 9. We were told that Dupnik would not be issuing another statement until after the County Attorney had completed his investigation. When we asked when that might be, we were told, “I have no clue.” The Post & Email confirmed with the sheriff’s department representative that the initial report, still posted at the PCSD website, was incorrect.
The Post & Email was unable to find any statement made to Channel 4 from Dupnik or his representative regarding Guerena’s death. However, Channel 9 also reported that Sheriff Dupnik had stated, “I don’t think anything was mishandled. Unfortunately, this individual points an assault rifle at cops. You do that, you are going to get killed. And the community has no reason to be concerned about it…”
The Tea Party Patriots have suggested that Sheriff Dupnik be recalled and are supporting a retired U.S. Marshal to run against him in 2012. Dupnik has been sheriff of Pima County for 31 years.