Video: Ex-Marine Gunned Down in Tucson Drug Raid Fiasco

By Dirk Hanson 06/01/11

The assault—complete with military-grade vehicles, assault weapons and robots—was like the house-clearing operations U.S. forces regularly perform in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The city of Tucson is only 60 miles north of the Mexican border, which makes Tucson the kind of “high-activity corridor” that swarms with SWAT teams on missions related to drugs or illegal immigrants. But none of that excuses the carefully planned drug raid last month that turned into a nightmare after a SWAT team with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department swooped into the home of 26-year old Gulf War veteran Jose Guerena and killed him in a hail of gunfire while his wife and 4-year old son hid in a closet. Police initially said the former Marine had fired on them with a military rifle, but later retracted that story when reports surfaced that the rifle still had the safety on. Guerena’s wife told KGUN9 TV in Tucson that the SWAT team did not identify itself, and that Guerena was only trying to protect is family. The Sheriff’s Department denies that charge, and says it found evidence “pertinent to the case,” but evidently, that evidence does not come in the form of drugs, guns, or money. KGUN reported that the SWAT team fired 71 rounds in about 7 seconds at Guerena, who did not fire back. As David Axe wrote at Wired: “One thing is clear. With military-grade vehicles, armor, assault weapons and robots, the raid on Guerena’s home was all but indistinguishable from the kind of house-clearing operations U.S. forces perform every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. Guerena survived two tours in the desert only to perish in a military-style action in his own home.”

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]