They Do This Every Week: Clarence Dupnik’s Death Squad
by William Norman Grigg
Why did they use a SWAT team?
If Tucson resident Jose Guerena was plausibly suspected of narcotics trafficking, why wasn’t he arrested on his way to or from his job at the nearby Asarco Mission copper mine? What justified a military assault on his home, when investigators knew that they could have executed a conventional search warrant?
Jose was never charged with a crime. In a previous encounter with police he consented to a search of his vehicle. In an separate traffic stop, Jose was a passenger in a car in which police found a handgun and a trivial amount of marijuana; he was arrested and subsequently released without being charged with a crime. He was an honorably discharged Marine combat veteran and – of infinitely greater importance – a gainfully employed, married father of two children.
There’s no reason to believe that anything other than a conventional search warrant – served by officers who aren’t kitted out in paramilitary drag, who knock on the door, identify themselves, and display the document in question before gaining entry – was either necessary or appropriate. This could have been done with minimal risk to everyone involved.
If a routine search warrant had been executed on the morning of May 5, the substantive result would have been the same: The police would have found no evidence of criminal activity. The most important difference, of course, would be that Vanessa would still have a husband, and her children – grade school student Jose, Jr. , and toddler Joel – would still have their father. Instead, Jose was a victim of criminal homicide at the hands of a Pima County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) SWAT team.