SWAT officers who killed former Marine during raid cleared


by Stacey Delikat


Posted on June 14, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 14 at 9:33 PM

TUCSON, Ariz. - Five SWAT officers who shot and killed a Tucson Marine during a raid in May have been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the Pima County Attorney's Office.

"The use of deady force by the SWAT team members was reasonable and justified under the law," Chief Criminal Deputy David Berkman wrote in a letter to the Pima County sheriff.

The officers fired 71 times at Iraq verteran Jose Guereña the morning of May 5. They were at the Tucson home to serve a search warrant related to a drug trafficking investigation although no drugs were ever recovered from the home.

Video from one of the officer's helmet cameras shows the officers sounding a siren for several seconds then knocking loudly on the door and yelling "Police." They then forced the door open and fired a barrage of shots.

Guereña had been holding an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle. According to the letter from Berkman, SWAT team members throught they had seen Guereña fire and shot back.

Guereña never fired his weapon and it was later determined the safety was on. Guereña was shot 22 times. His wife and young child were home at the time.

The shooting sparked outrage among community members who believe the SWAT team used excessive force.

The Pima County Attorney's Office decided that there was no basis for prosecution. Berkman wrote,  "...when Mr. Guereña raised the AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle in their direction, they needed to take immediate action to stop the deadly threat against them."

Ballistic evidence revealed Guereña's weapon had been pointed at the officers.

Guereña had no criminal background. However, one of his brothers was the focus of an ongoing drug trafficking probe. An attorney for the Guereña family did not respond to a request for comment.