Earlier this month, a story came out about a series of raids carried out in a Tuscon, Arizona neighborhood that were part of a marijuana trafficking investigation. There was sketchy information at first, but what was certain was that a 26-year-old father and ex-Marine who served two tours in Iraq was dead after suffering at least 60 gunshot wounds at the hands of the Pima County SWAT team.
This kind of overwhelming force is inappropriate for enforcing marijuana prohibition in almost any context, but there could be extenuating circumstances that justified its use, such as the fact that the victim, Jose Guerena, was armed, and the allegation that he threatened officers. At least, that is what the Pima County Sheriff’s Department is trying to make everyone think.
Soon after the incident, the media started looking into the facts of the case, and the story of what happened that morning looked less and less believable. In an article for the Huffington Post, Radley Balko investigates the circumstances surrounding Jose Guerena’s death, and the efforts by the police to hinder any such investigation. Here is an excerpt, but please take the time to read the entire article here.
Perhaps we will at some point see convincing evidence that Dupnik and Storie are right – that Jose Guerena was in fact a drug dealer and violent criminal who dressed up like a cop to rob rival drug dealers and innocent citizens of Pima County. But at this point, all we have is a dead father and veteran, a violent series of raids that make little sense, and a police agency that over the last three weeks has put out incorrect information, insisted that it would be dangerous to release any further information, and, at the same time, allowed a police representative to release information favorable to the department.
It is high time the public holds people in powerful positions accountable for their abuses, and not allow them to quiet us with the argument that their actions are in our own best interests.
Update: New information, courtesy of Radley Balko.