SWAT raid: deadly force justified when serving search warrant
Reporter: Steve Nuñez
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – Video of the SWAT raid and deadly shooting of former Marine Jose Guerena has raised many questions from 9 On Your Side viewers who wanted to know how much force police are legally allowed to use when serving a search warrant.
9 On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez sat down with Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Bloom to show him the raw footage of the raid. The Pima County Sheriff's Department released the video to the media on Thursday.
"I'm sure everyone's reaction first of all, it's horrible," said Bloom as he watched SWAT officers fire 71 bullets at a person they identified as Guerena.
"It's a horrifying situation," said Bloom.
But Bloom, who has 34 years experience representing victims of illegal searches, wanted to make it clear: he is not connected to the case. Nor has he seen the search warrant or other key investigative documents.
"I'm not expressing an opinion as to whether or not the shooting was justified or not," said Bloom.
Instead, Bloom agreed to analyze the raw footage and provide his expertise on the legal interpretation of how police are supposed to serve a search warrant.
The video shows SWAT sounded its sirens for eight seconds while driving up to Guerena's house.
Nuñez asked Bloom if this eight second warning met the legal criteria.
"That probably technically complies with the law," answered Bloom.
However, Bloom said the sound of a siren does not identify the type of emergency vehicle it's coming from. And that's why the law says police have to identify themselves by yelling, "Police," before breaking down the door and entering.
Nuñez asked Bloom if the law defines how long officers are supposed to wait for someone to respond before they can force their way inside of a home.
"There is no specific case that says its six seconds or fourteen seconds or this or that," said Bloom. "It's a reasonable amount of time."
And as far as using deadly force when serving a search warrant? Bloom said by law, police are always justified to shoot anytime they are threatened with deadly force. And once police pull the trigger they are justified to keep shooting until they run out of ammunition.
"If in fact the gentleman points a weapon at police that justifies that they're not required to wait until he starts firing," said Bloom.
Bloom said because of the amount of force used by police the public has the right to know every detail surrounding the shooting and what exactly police knew about Jose Guerena.