SWAT attorney: Raid video speaks for itself
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -They say a picture is worth a thousand words. SWAT video, however, might be priceless, according to the lawyer representing SWAT in the shooting death of former Marine, Jose Guerena.
Video, audio, and documents released Thursday show exactly what transpired in the moments before and after the May 5 SWAT raid on Guerena's home. In the video, SWAT members can be seen approaching the house with sirens on. They can be heard identifying themselves as they knocked on the front door. The barrage of gunfire is also clearly audible; after the shooting stops, officers pull to safety a SWAT member they believe to be wounded. The information released by the Pima County Sheriff's Department helps to answer many of the questions that have been swirling since the shooting.
Until now, the only information KGUN9 News had about the shooting came from attorneys for both sides and members of the Guerena family, including the ex-Marine's wife, Vanessa. A few days after the shooting, KGUN9 asked her about SWAT announcing itself before entering.
"At any point did you hear them yell, "police or SWAT?'" asked KGUN9's Joel Waldman.
"No no!" answered Guerena.
"At any point did you hear sirens outside?" asked Waldman.
"Oh no!" answered Guerena.
"You're saying they only yelled SWAT after the shootout?" Waldman continued.
"Oh, yes, yes!" responded Guerena.
Waldman sat down with lawyer Mike Storie to watch the video shot by SWAT. Storie said he believes the video will save SWAT members from criminal prosecution and a costly lawsuit. He pointed out something completely contrary to Guerena's wife's claims that the team did not identify itself before breaking down the door.
"The person is now knocking on the door, and giving verbal commands as far as announcing in Spanish and in English who they are, you see him (SWAT officer) knocking," Storie said, giving a play-by-play of the video as he watched it on a laptop.
"In your opinion, is this now cut and dry once you see the video?" Waldman asked.
"Yeah, you watch the video and clearly you hear sirens, you see them (SWAT) approach, you see them knock and announce several times. Clearly, anyone in the area will know police were there," Storie explained.
And, Storie told KGUN9 there was clearly a threat; a gun pointed right at the SWAT team. The deputy to the right of the shielder, Storie said, saw it first.
"The person above his right shoulder will be the first one who is looking down the hallway who will see the gun turning the corner and being raised towards them," he explained.
That's when officers opened fire, shooting more than 70 rounds; while many in the community have criticized the SWAT team for firing so many times against a man who never took the safety off his weapon, Pima County Lieutenant Michael O'Connor said the team was not out of line.
"They're going to fire until the threat is over. (SWAT) fired in seven seconds," Lt. O'Connor said.
KGUN9 has reached out to Christopher Scileppi, the Guerena family attorney, but so far, he was not responded.