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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

SWAT Team Kills Marine Veteran at Home

TUCSON (CN) - A widow says a regional SWAT team killed her husband, a Marine veteran, in a botched raid not even aimed at him, riddling their house with 72 bullets while she and their 4-year-old son were in it.

Vanessa Guerena says police refused to allow paramedics to help her husband, 26-year-old Jose Guerena, after the SWAT team shot him repeatedly while serving a search warrant on May 5.

"No shots were ever fired at members of the Pima Regional SWAT Team from inside the Guerena home," the widow says in her Pima County Court complaint. She says her husband was "peacefully sleeping in his bed" after returning home from the night shift at a mine when the police killed him.

"After the shooting, the Pima Regional SWAT Team denied entry to anyone, including paramedics, into the Guerena home for over an hour."

The raid apparently was aimed at her husband's brother, who did not live with them.

Guerena says that the affidavit in support of the search warrant "misrepresented and failed to include complete and material information about Joseph Guerena."

The complaint states: "The Pima Regional SWAT Team was serving a warrant based on an alleged investigation into the activities of Jose Guerena's brother, Alejandro Guerena, who was not a resident of Jose Guerena's home. No evidence was found that Jose Guerena was engaging in criminal activity, that any criminal activity was occurring at Jose Guerena's home, or that any evidence of criminal activity would be found in the Guerena home."

Tucson media reported that the SWAT team shot Guerena more than 20 times.

Guerena says that when she pleaded with officers to allow paramedics to care for her wounded husband, "Rather than provide help, the Pima Regional SWAT team forcefully and violently drug [sic] Vanessa Guerena from her home. A frightened, crying, and traumatized Joel Guerena, age four, exited a short time later of his own volition wearing his Spider-Man pajamas.

"Over an hour after the shooting and after sending in two robots, members of the Pima Regional SWAT Team finally entered the Guerena home where Jose Guerena was pronounced dead a short time later."

In addition to shooting the blazes out of their home, Guerena says the SWAT team took "many personal items" from the home and their car, which are "entirely unrelated to any investigation," and have refused to return them.

"After the shooting, the shooters were not immediately separated and were allowed to discuss amongst themselves what occurred. The officers who interviewed the shooters a short time after the shooting often asked the shooters leading questions improperly suggesting what testimony they should give about what occurred during the shooting," the widow says.

She sued Pima County and five members of the Pima Regional SWAT Team, the towns of Marana, Oro Valley and Sahuraita, and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

Guerena seeks unspecified damages for negligence.

She is represented by Partick Broom with Haralson Miller of Tucson.

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