Comments: The Guerena Shooting, Analysis 4

Excellent analysis Mike!

Posted by Col Bat Guano at June 19, 2011 11:16 AM

Let's see: There were sirens, flashing lights, knock and announce, entry and Guerena still decided to confront the police officers entering his home in accordance with a lawfully issued search warrant and confront them and point at them a loaded semi-automatic rifle.

Case closed. It is clear that Guerena was a drug dealer. It was not a case of mistaken identity.

And, for the record, it is quite common for the gun press to refer to semi-automatic pistols as automatic pistols. So trying to clear Guerena with the claim that the mistaken description of his weapon as an assault rifle is clearly a case of stretching.

It shows how little you identify as serious issues are in fact irrelevant. How is it relevant that this weapon was not an assault rifle? It was a weapon and could have killed the officers.

When you confront police officers with a gun, you will be shot. What is so hard to understand about that?

If he is just a hard working blue collar guy, what is with all the cash and numerous cell phones. To a real police officer that is evidence of drug dealing.

In the end this will be no more another Rosa Parks than Eric "The Drug Fiend" Scott.

Posted by Federale at June 19, 2011 07:31 PM

I am getting sick of the "point a gun at a cop, you die" meme.

What about point a gun at ME and you die, officer? Why do the cops get to assault me and expect nothing in return?

This is not a binary situation, this is about reason. It is reasonable for a homeowner to arm themselves when ANYONE is breaking in the front door. With the numerous cases of getting the wrong address a SWAT team is going to have to start expecting to be aimed at by innocent people. It is not reasonable to assume that a home-owner will not be armed and making an assessment of the situation. It is unreasonable to not give that surprised person some time to figure out it's the police and to, well, surrender before you begin shooting. As an agent of the state a police officer is more replaceable than an individual citizen. Yes, that makes breaking into a house without knocking more dangerous, and I do not care. You could always stop executing no knock searches to solve the danger problem; but that never seems to be suggested by the "real police officers" does it?

This is not like someone pulling a gun on a cop at random in the street, this is someone in their home; that place where they are supposed to have a right to "be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects." The burden should be far more stringent on the police than what has been shown in this case to even knock on the door, let alone break it down.

You can't prove a negative, but would Mr Guerena have pointed a gun at the police if they had not been breaking the door down? had Mr Guerena ever pointed a gun at a police officer who wasn't breaking down his door? Who created the situation here?

I am fed up with this "police can do no wrong" attitude. I am fed up with special rules for the cops. The cops are supposed to be us; and they we. I'd feel far better if the rules for a cop shooting were at least as hard as the rules for when I can shoot. Especially since I can't call for back-up.

I am sick of the "us vs them" mentality of many cops. "To a real police officer that is evidence of drug dealing." To a real citizen that's evidence of a tyrannically minded jack-booted thug who's decided he's judge, jury and executioner who doesn't need to bother with irritating things like evidence and due process. A more reasonably minded person will ask, "where are the drugs then?"

Bite me, sir.

I hope that someday soon the proper relationship of the police working for the communities they serve is reestablished rather than the reverse you are espousing which currently holds sway.

Every single person collecting a government check works for the citizenry, not the other way around. If you find that you dislike serving, perhaps you should change carriers.

Posted by McThag at June 19, 2011 11:13 PM

I like the cop who thinks that being in the car with saran wrap is proof you are a drug dealer. So after I kick in his door and shoot him I can prove he's a drug dealer when I search his kitchen and uncover not just saran wrap but also aluminum foil and baggies?

Posted by Kevin at June 20, 2011 12:17 AM

Anyhow, Sheriff Clown's comments about "nationally recognized SWAT team" is due to their having a FEMA type 1 tactical team. Which really doesn't seem that special. See page 19 of http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nims/508-6_Law_Enfor_Secur_Resources.pdf

http://pimasheriff.org/about-us/meet-the-sheriff/
"Oversaw the creation of the Pima Regional SWAT team. This accomplishment resulted in the largest, most capable tactical team in the state of Arizona and the only FEMA type 1 tactical team in the southern region of the United States. The Pima Regional SWAT team is a collaborative effort comprised of officers from seven Pima County law enforcement agencies and medics from various local emergency medical support agencies. The program includes several distinct elements: Tactical, Negotiations, EOD, Canine, and Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS). These elements work together to resolve dangerous incidents that pose a risk to the lives of the residents of Pima County."

I suspect there are some very strange politics in play here.

Posted by Kevin at June 20, 2011 12:35 AM

whats so hard about considering thier behavior was totalitarian thug regime tactics.

whats so hard about considering that these leo's spit fucked up

the smearing of this marine does not help the cuase of good police it only harms. good police shouldnt knee jerk defend other cops in a terrible clusterf$ck and especially making up lies about the dead man who cannot defend himself is disgraceful and lowlife.

I hope this women ends up owning all these cops homes.

Posted by rumcrook at June 20, 2011 12:45 AM

First, Federale has beclowned himself again with his own mouth. I'm convinced that he is not a LEO, and weep for our country if he is.

Second, I would like to point out that the Bad News Bears are a nationally-recognized baseball team. Judging from the video, Pima County is nationally-recognized in the same way.

Posted by Phelps at June 20, 2011 01:16 AM

Sheriff Dupnik: Being stopped in a car with another guy who might be a drug dealer and registering a lot of cars is reasonable suspicion to decide that you are likely a hitman and send rough and armed men to your home to break down the door and drag you out, dead or alive.

Sheriff Dupnik: Having at least five officers fire 71 shots (and only hitting 22) at a man in his own home who never fired a shot and indeed could not fire a shot is not reasonable suspicion of any wrongdoing by the police.

Posted by Phelps at June 20, 2011 01:26 AM

"beclowned himself" your being generous in that assessment.

Posted by rumcrook at June 20, 2011 03:21 AM

From the hyperbole and contradictory statements coming from the police in this case one can conclude that at best those people are sloppy and unprofessional. At worst? Criminally incompetent.

Posted by Brad at June 20, 2011 06:04 AM

Federale = Mall Cop

Posted by SicSemperTyrannus at June 20, 2011 09:23 AM

Great article, one minor quibble:

You state: 'The term “assault weapon” was coined by anti-gunners and the media for this purpose. There is no such thing as an “assault weapon,”...'

Actually, there is, since it has become a legal term with a specific definition in the law and varies depending on jurisdiction. CA law co-opted the anti-gunner term (surprise, surprise) into the Dangerous Weapon Control law, which states (omitted long boring specifics, any interested can look it up at http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/dwcl/12275.php)

"12276. As used in this chapter, "assault weapon" shall mean the following designated semiautomatic firearms: ..."
"12276.1. (a) Notwithstanding Section 12276, "assault weapon" shall also mean any of the following: ...

(4) A semiautomatic pistol that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following: ...

(7) A semiautomatic shotgun that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine.
(8) Any shotgun with a revolving cylinder. ..."

But Federale is missing your point that anti-gunners (and police trying to cover for obvious mistakes) use the similar terms assault rifle/weapon to garner support by exploiting the emotions and ignorance of the uneducated. Trying to make the threat and mindset of the homeowner far greater than it was. He also is stating that police did knock and identify themselves, while others state that they didn't, that this was a no-knock raid. This also doesn't address that in poorer neighborhoods criminals often pose as police during home invasion robberies.

Posted by styrgwillidar at June 20, 2011 11:28 AM

Not a LEO, but I have relatives/friends who are. And yes, some police departments teach 'shoot until threat stops'. This is not to say empty the magazine but assess while shooting, that is if the first two rounds don't appear to have effected the threat continue vice being hard-wired to shoot-shoot, look, shoot.

Following is link to an organization that studied perpetrator and officer motions during firearm engagements. Perpetrators were college students unfamiliar with firearms. (In the articles they refer to officers being trained to shoot until the threat stops). It is useful in understanding reaction times required to observe and respond to suspect motions. Action beats reaction.

http://www.forcescience.org/subjectmotion.html
http://www.forcescience.org/officermotion.html
http://www.forcescience.org/interaction.html

I don't think that this applies to a SWAT raid which should have included briefs on likely occupants, assignment of threat sectors, shooting responsibilies and greater discipline in the use of weapons than in street encounters by a patrol officer.

Posted by styrgwillidar at June 20, 2011 12:44 PM

Dear Styrgwillidar:

Thanks for your comments! Regarding the "assault weapon" hoax, one should always leave naming to those who actually deal with the technology. This is what happens when it is left to leftist Californians. When every semi-automatic handgun becomes an "assault weapon" because they accept detachable magazines by their very nature, it is clear that the term has no meaning. It tells us nothing useful. I may as well deem all bicycles "urban stealth assault vehicles" because one may tape various long guns to their handlebars.

Thanks too for the links on the time/motion studies. The axiom: "action beats reaction" is, in the strictest sense, generally true. However, even that truism may be beaten if one is trained, experienced and employs good tactics and therefore anticipates the action. It may also be beaten through the proper employment of SWAT resources, which is absolutely not what was done in the Guerena case.

Routinely using SWAT teams to serve run-of-the-mill warrants actually makes such incidents more, rather than less, dangerous. To suggest that whenever the police decide to break into a home, even with a warrant, they are justified in shooting anyone who might have a gun in their hand--in their own home--is arguably sanctioning premeditated murder (I am not, by the way, saying that you suggested this). The police may certainly protect their lives, but when they unnecessarily provoke a deadly force incident--on purpose or through incompetence--that's another matter.

Posted by Mike Mc at June 20, 2011 05:40 PM

Mike, thank you for the discussion. I thought the Force Science stuff is relevant because some of their articles mention police being trained to 'shoot until the threat ceases'. Interesting stuff in terms of how long it takes someone to stop shooting after realizing the threat has ceased.

But it reinforces your points that a SWAT team should be trained to a level that fire is focused and limited.

I have used the CA law to illustrate to anti-gun/uneducated folks that 'assault weapons' are not machine guns, since by definition in CA they are semi-autos (or whatever elso the legislature decides to define them as in the future), with machine guns covered by federal regs. Helps them understand the distinction between military 'assault rifles' and civilian owned 'assault weapons'.

Posted by styrgwillidar at June 20, 2011 07:35 PM
While it is legally the job of the Pima County DA’s Office to render judgment on the police in this, and any other case where police wrong doing is a possibility, there is always an inherent conflict of interest.
What I found interesting is that it was the Pima County DA who reviewed this. Here, the normal procedure is that most, if not all, police-involved shootings are investigated by the State Police and reviewed by the Commonwealth's Attorney (same as a DA) from another jurisdiction. Something that ignited the media-storm this did would certainly be handled that way, to avoid any appearance of bias.

Only the most gullible will believe that the DA conducted anything but a rubber-stamp investigation of this killing.

With the numerous cases of getting the wrong address a SWAT team is going to have to start expecting to be aimed at by innocent people. It is not reasonable to assume that a home-owner will not be armed and making an assessment of the situation. It is unreasonable to not give that surprised person some time to figure out it's the police and to, well, surrender before you begin shooting. [...] Yes, that makes breaking into a house without knocking more dangerous, and I do not care.
Agreed. While I certainly would like every officer to be able to go home at the end of his shift, there is a point where you have to say "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it." Posted by Jake at June 22, 2011 11:01 AM

Jake,

["You knew the job was dangerous when you took it."]

Does that imply criminals get to shoot first? Would you demand that of military also?

Here, they use a sitting Grand Jury, however many states don't. I believe a District Attorney review is SOP in Pima County, so.....why should this review be different? Why would the District Attorney's Office be cabalists in this alleged collusion? Certainly not financial as the county is self-insured, which means their trust funded with tax dollars.

I understand the 'evil' Judge perspective and the five 'evil' SWAT operators from four different jurisdictions viewpoint, but 'rhetorical strategy' from the DA too? I don't see the intrigue proffer.

Posted by Buck Turgidson at June 22, 2011 02:33 PM
Does that imply criminals get to shoot first? Would you demand that of military also?
I believe MikeM addressed that first question in his first analysis of this raid. Members of a SWAT team are expected to take that extra second to determine if he is actually a threat or not, rather than simply start shooting in a panic if they see a gun that may be pointed even vaguely in their direction. They knew being a cop was dangerous when they took the job, and they knew the added danger when they volunteered to join SWAT.

Of course, I would bet that danger is one reason the guy at the front door has a big, bulletproof shield for everyone to be behind, too. It lets them take that extra second while remaining behind cover - if they actually stay behind it like they're supposed to.

As for the second question, according to some sources (which I have not yet seen contradicted anywhere), the military currently does have to let the enemy shoot first.

Should the police in the US have looser rules of engagement than the army in a war?

Re: the DA - The reason those situations here are handled by a prosecutor from outside the officer's jurisdiction is that the local prosecutor works closely with those officers and their departments on a regular basis. This creates a "friendly" professional relationship, and in such a situation can create at least the appearance of bias, if not actual bias - at the very least, a prosecutor stands to alienate the police he depends on to do his job if he finds against the officers involved.

Posted by Jake at June 22, 2011 04:37 PM

Dear Jake:

Thanks for your insightful comments. Indeed, the primary reason most professional law enforcement agencies use outside agencies to investigate police shootings is precisely what you have stated. They understand that it is vitally important that the public have confidence in the police and that even the appearance of impropriety can be harmful to that confidence. By involving agencies completely outside the local criminal justice system--to include the local prosecutor's office--this can be avoided.

As you also wisely suggested, local prosecutors very much like this procedure, particularly if the state, for example, will make charging decisions. It prevents the kinds of hard feelings that can make working with the police on a daily basis difficult or impossible.

As I said, professional agencies tend to do this.

I also appreciate your comments regarding the danger of police work. Every officer does indeed understand the inherent danger of the job, and that danger certainly does not require that officers allow bad guys to shoot first. However, officers have a moral and legal obligation to be absolutely certain of the necessity of shooting and of their marksmanship. Bad guys tend not to care about collateral damage; the police must care very much. This is one of the obligations--and the dangers--of being a police officer.

Officers should indeed be determined to go home at the end of each shift, but this is not accomplished through panic and paranoia but through solid training, situational awareness, sound tactics and calm, professional appraisal of every situation.

Posted by Mike Mc at June 22, 2011 06:01 PM

Jake,

Sorry pilgrim, I've never heard the 'take the extra second' because you have hard armor & a shield offering. It was always 'fear for your life' or 'eminent threat of great bodily harm/death'. And, it did not change regardless of your unit assignment.

Guerena made a disastrous error by confronting the police with a firearm and the meager excuses made for his decision are pointless, as it was a 'legitimate use of deadly force'.

Posted by Buck Turgidson at June 22, 2011 11:37 PM
Sorry pilgrim, I've never heard the 'take the extra second' because you have hard armor & a shield offering.
Then you should go back to that first analysis I referenced and re-read it. Our host here, writing from the perspective of an experienced police officer with SWAT entry team experience, specifically stated:
Where most officers would shoot, and shoot a great many rounds, they [SWAT] are expected to be able to take the extra few seconds—or fractions of a second—necessary to more fully and accurately analyze any situation before shooting.
They did not take that extra few seconds - or even a fraction of a second - to determine whether this was a real threat or simply a startled homeowner reacting to what he thought was a home invasion, and instead started what is obviously panic-fire at the mere sight of a firearm (which may or may not have even been pointed at them). Rather than assess the effectiveness of their fire, they simply continued firing until they ran out of ammunition. (Contrast that to this non-SWAT incident local to me, where a police officer confronted with an armed suspect who actually did shoot at him only fired once, and stopped when that successfully disabled him.)
Officers should indeed be determined to go home at the end of each shift, but this is not accomplished through panic and paranoia but through solid training, situational awareness, sound tactics and calm, professional appraisal of every situation.
Truth. And PCSO's SWAT team failed that on every single point.
Posted by Jake at June 23, 2011 11:38 AM

D'oh! Didn't close my link tag! Sorry about that!

Posted by Jake at June 23, 2011 11:40 AM

Jake,

IMO that "perspective of an experienced police officer with SWAT entry team experience" is wrong, and if I were in that doorway it would be MY decision to shoot or not - nobody else! My decision to shoot will be reviewed and judged by the powers set-up by the state and already in place. You can second guess, conjecture, speculate, theorize, hypothesize and even become hyperbolic, but it will not change (as the body politic agreed) the KNOWN facts.

Like the Scott case, all that's left is the civil litigation, which is obligatory in today's 'Coca-Cola' society. Even Matasareanu's family tried to sue. Go figure.

Posted by Buck Turgidson at June 23, 2011 04:06 PM

Gee Buck,

How do you conclude Guerena choose to confront the police? All the evidence seems to indicate that Guerena, even though he had just woken up, figured out that the police were not a threat hence no shots fired from Guerena and his rifle didn't have the selector lever set to fire.

Yet the ever changing stories from the SWAT time after the fact and the panic fire which riddled the Guerena home indicate it was the SWAT team which choose inappropriate violence.

At the very least there is inadequate evidence available to us to condemn Guerena. Yet you leap to condemn him. If your objective is to boost the reputation of the police among the skeptics your advocacy is not working.

Posted by Brad at June 24, 2011 01:59 AM
it will not change (as the body politic agreed) the KNOWN facts.
Which known facts?

The tactics and organization that would be laughed at by all but the most amateur Airsoft kiddies?

The ridiculous 'knock' that wouldn't have been heard from the end of the hallway, much less by
a man sleeping in a bedroom that probably had the door closed?

The wild, uncontrolled fire of the SWAT team?

The so-far unsubstantiated claims - by an organization that has changed its story about the incident at least twice - that Guerena pointed his rifle at the team making entry?

And these are just the facts of the actual entry and shooting. They don't even address the fact that the affidavit was inadequate for a warrant, or that SWAT never should have been used for this in the first place, or that there were several other ways to handle the situation even if he had been an actual threat worthy of SWAT involvement that would have been safer for all concerned.

You've been blaming Guerena from the start, based on nothing more than the fact that he was holding a rifle when someone broke down his door, and the unsubstantiated claims by the people who shot him that he pointed it at them. You refuse to acknowledge that SWAT members are supposed to be held to a higher standard than officers on the street. You've ignored the evidence of incompetence and the ever-changing story of the shooters seemingly on the basis of your apparent belief that the police never lie. You argue that we should not question the judgment of a team that has quite thoroughly demonstrated its incompetence and lack of judgment.

As Brad has pointed out, at the very least there is inadequate evidence available to us to condemn Guerena. PCSO, on the other hand, has demonstrated its incompetence, provided wrong information, changed its story multiple times, and engaged in obvious (and pathetic) attempts to publicly smear Guerena.

But I guess it must be his fault, because the people who shot him said so.

Posted by Jake at June 24, 2011 08:12 AM

["If your objective is to boost the reputation of the police among the skeptics your advocacy is not working."]

Well Brad,
It worked for the people that count, did it not?

That being said, I was in fact somewhat perplexed about the safety. If you truly believe it's the cartel coming through the front door at 0900, why leave the safety on. If you truly believe it's the Police coming through the front door at 0900, why have the rifle in the first place or at least put it down and not point it, to show your hands are empty. I've seen many people, even street agents/police, forget to swipe the safety off even when shooting at non-stressful range practice. It is possible he just forgot, however, I doubt this is the case with a combat Marine, considering their cult-like training on the issue. I don't think we'll ever know.

I only chastise Guerena for his poor choices, which proved to be fatal.

Posted by Buck Turgidson at June 24, 2011 11:16 AM

["But I guess it must be his fault, because the people who shot him said so."]

In a word, yes. How else would it be? What proof do YOU have the police conspired to bear false witness? Because someone misspoke hours after the incident and later, during the post-shooting investigation, they realized it was wrong and publicly correct it? Please!

Many mistakes were made, Jake, the biggest one being Guerena possessing the firearm. Had not that happen, we wouldn't be have this parley, despite the other mistakes. It would have been a story about an ongoing drug investigation on page three in the local section.

BTW, exactly which famed national SWAT/TACTICAL organization analyzed and censored the PCSD multi-jurisdiction SWAT team?

Posted by Buck Turgidson at June 24, 2011 12:15 PM