Call to Arms: Jose Guerena

Life is precious and an old friend’s recent passing solidifies my desire and galvanizes my resolve to end marijuana prohibition before this ravenous beast known commonly as the “War on Drugs” consumes any more lives. I now implore you fellow Missourians, take action and get involved, speak out privately and publically, educate yourself and others to the dangers of prohibition and the benefits of legalizing marijuana before we lose another invaluable life as we did in Call to Arms.

Jose Guerena

SWAT officers fired at least 71 shots at suspect Jose Guerena, a former U.S. Marine, and a family struggles to put the pieces together. (ABC News)

On the Morning of May 5 2011 Jose Guerena, a twenty-six year old veteran of Iraq who survived the chaos of war during two tours, was gunned down by Pima County Arizona SWAT serving a no knock drug warrant. Asleep after working a night shift at the copper mine Jose awakes to his wife, Vanessa, screaming do not shoot I have a baby, a masked gunman outside their youngest sons bedroom window confronts her with him in arm, fearing a home invasion Jose tells his wife and son to take cover in the closet. Grabbing his assault rifle, safety on, he confronts the gunman breaking down his front door in the manor customary to a man of military training forged in the fires of combat. Not much else is clear at this point but in the following moments a barrage of gunfire and accompanying brilliant flashes of light followed by deafening explosions of sound leave Jose laying there bleeding out and dying on the floor of his home as 60 of the 71 bullets fired by the SWAT hit their mark. Rending flesh and shattering bone, as is the bullets nature, they leave Jose lying on the floor of his home, his castle, surely terrified of an unknown fate that must await his wife and child.

Over an hour passes after his wife frantically calls 911 pleading for help and for the paramedics to hurry before police are done fumbling around securing the home and before they allow paramedics to apply the skills of their trade. Alas to no avail, Jose already dead his guns safety still “on,” now in the hands of the Grim Reaper, his family was left to stare down the business end of hot black barrels held in the hands of trigger-happy men who murder him.

Jose Guerena fired first police claimed initially only recanting after begrudgingly admitting that the assault riffle’s “safety was on and he could not fire,” now as is customary when things go horribly awry and damage control is crucial Sheriff Clarence Dupnik stepped up to plate sending a spokesperson to say no comment when asked whether or not drugs were found. In another bold move, Sheriff Clarence Dupnik delegated the responsibility of informing the media that “Sheriff Dupnik will make the decision to release the information when the investigation is completed, the danger to innocent lives has been mitigated, and all agencies involved have been given the opportunity to review the actions of their personnel” among other things. Other things such as “information surrounding the shooting of Jose Guerena by members of the Pima Regional SWAT Team” provided to “the public has” been “misinformation and emotionally-charged speculation” referring to the report provided to the media about Mr. Guerena firing his safety locked weapon first.

Deputy Jason S. Ogan Public Information Officer with Pima County Sheriff’s Department, directed by Sheriff Dupnik, informed the media that “it is unacceptable and irresponsible to couch those questions with implications of secrecy and a cover-up, not to mention questioning the legality of actions that could not have been taken without the approval of an impartial judge.” Of course, if a judge signs a man’s death warrant that the letter of the law allows writ, signed, and sealed one sees how the Sheriff is shocked and awed at the lack of understanding the media possesses of state sanctioned murder.

However, not deterred Mike Storie a lawyer for the SWAT took up the task of informing the public certain information despite Sheriff Dupnik’s warning about the dangers posed to others lives in refusing to answer the question of whether or not the officers found drugs during the raid. In Mr. Storie’s opinion as a legal professional defending the defenders of truth, justice, and the American way the importance of releasing information pertaining to the guns, body armor, and picture of “patron saint of drug runners Jesus Malverde” found at the Guerena home, their castle to be so important that the public must know. The public must know that the danger to the SWAT team member’s wellbeing superseded anyone in the homes safety and that this justifies the SWAT’s decision to delay permitting paramedics into the home while taking over an hour to ensure that the rest of the house is secure. Must not let the public think the officers violated protocol allowing a man to bleed to death while in his own home, his castle, why in fact that is proper police procedure to fill a person full of holes then let nature take its course while you secure the structure you are raiding. Besides, “they still don’t know how many” more shooters” there are, “how many guns are inside and they still have to assume that they will be ambushed if they walk in this house,” Storie explains.

Of course, caution is of utmost importance since the 71 shots fired obviously alerted the other imaginary “shooters” to the SWAT’s presence.

They were “circling the wagons” when the SWAT’s “poor planning” of this warrant lead to “overreaction” and they found “nothing in the house that was illegal.” The “ambulance” arrived “in two minutes” but police “never allowed” the emergency responders “in” and it is “nonsense” “framing the delay in providing the medical attention as a tactical decision” by police, “the pieces do not fit”, this is a case of “cover your ass” believes Chris Scileppi, Vanessa Guerena’s lawyer. “Two members of her sister-in-law’s family, Cynthia and Manny Orozco, were killed last year in their Tucson home,” said Scileppi.

Yet knowing this the triggers safety remained on, gun readied, military training still sharp Jose courageously took his stand, moments later he is brutally gunned down.

This citizen turned soldier returned to civilian life survived two combat tours in Iraq, interned now within the eternal soil of this good green earth swaddled in his dress blue Marine Core uniform for time eternal, honored as a fallen hero by Leo Verdugo, Jose’s master sergeant in Iraq. While “he was under my command, he definitely pulled his weight,” Leo Verdugo recalls, “I have such a hard time grasping how something so tragic could happen,” States Leo, “at the wrong place at the wrong time in his own home” he speculates.

Now as is customary for those suffering the tragically brutal loss of a loved one murdered in front of their eyes, Vanessa is “devastated and distraught” and as one would expect she seeks justice, justice for Jose and their two sons. Most important is the vindication of Jose by having his “name cleared and his honor restored” said Scileppi.

“We were so worried when he was over there fighting terrorism, but he gets shot in his own home,” Reyna Ortiz, a relative helping Vanessa and her two boys through this state sanctioned calamity, told a reporter going on to say “the government killed one of their own.”

What about the children is a question often spouted by proponents of prohibition, we do not want children harmed from access to or use of illegal drugs is the propaganda that to them justifies such cruel, heartless and heavy handed tactics applied to serving no knock drug warrants. What about the children of Jose Guerena, fortunately, if one can say there is anything fortunate, young Jose, just turning six, was at school and missed the carnage at his family home, his family castle, and thus spared the savagery. Alas, for the even younger Joel, who was front and center to witness the bloodshed and brutality of this SWAT raid, he will live with this day seared into the psyche of his gray matter like the brand of a rancher on the hide cattle. Forever will it leave its indelible mark upon this poor child as is evident in the sweetly simple question posed in the fashion children inquire, “Why did the police kill my daddy?”

“Now, one of the most essential branches of English liberty is the freedom of one’s house. A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege.” James Otis, Jr. spoke these words in February of 1761 in the Old State House, for nearly 5 hours, he argued brilliantly on behalf of the Bostonian merchants against the “Writs of Assistance”. The “Writs of Assistance” or written orders signed by the court that gave British officials the ability to search any premises on suspicion of smuggled goods being present, much like the illicit drug search warrants of today.

Although, James Otis Jr. did not win the case and considered himself at the time a loyal British subject his speech galvanize the revolutionary movement, in particular with a young John Adams. Present at the oration and so greatly moved that 30 years later he exaggeratingly proclaimed “the child independence was then and there born, [for] every man of an immense crowded audience appeared to me to go away as I did, ready to take arms against writs of assistance.” This concept of the home, the castle, being the most sacred of places that human beings cherish dates back to Roman times and we embody it with and guarantee this by our constitution as the Fourth Amendment. Our forefathers guaranteed us “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Unfortunately, police establish increasingly creative ways to interpret “probable cause” and establish new territories for “Oath and affirmation” with the establishment of paid informants, often criminals themselves, and the use of undercover officers perpetrating and perpetuating crime to catch criminals means that the current drug laws abide by the letter of the constitution. While they adhere to the letter of the constitution, when one splits hairs, they at the same time serve to weaken the foundations of the Fourth Amendment and crumble the walls of our homes, our castles, leaving all citizens of the United States of America vulnerable, exposed to the turbulent and destructive winds of a dark ominous storm called tyranny. Is this what our founding fathers fought for; did they sacrifice life and limb for all Americans to have a chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness so that one day the American state and federal governments can raid homes and kill the owners on the suspicion of finding smuggled contraband or in this case illicit drugs?

No say I, they did not fight and die so that one-day America would walk the path of tyranny, they did not risk everything so that the citizens would walk blindly, oblivious of the fate awaiting them as they head toward the abyss.

Nay, the founders of this great nation would implore the people to take action against the unjust letter of these laws that corrodes our society and kills its citizens.

Join me united as people, to stand up and speak out, together we can end marijuana prohibition.

You can listen to this article from Grass-Roots Radio Active Marijuana’s 4-20-2011 Special here.

Original Article (ABC News)


About TriXteR Phillips

Founder and Jack-of-all-Trades at Stand Up and Speak Out a volunteer organization devoted to providing the public with safe, legal, and supportive events on 4-20 to help bring public attention to the need to end cannabis prohibition for all humanity. Founder, Admin, Blogger, and Jack-of-all-Trades at TriXteR Phillips: A Poison Thorn in Prohibition's Side.
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