A Marine veteran’s widow, who says her husband was killed in a botched SWAT team raid not even aimed for him, has now sued Arizona’s Pima County, the county sheriff, three surrounding towns and five members of the Pima County SWAT team.
Vanessa Guerena says a SWAT team repeatedly shot her husband, 26-year-old Jose Guerena, while serving a search warrant on May 5, riddling their house with 72 bullets while she and their 4-year-old son were inside. Police, she says, refused to allow paramedics to help her husband for over an hour.
Courthouse News reported that the raid was apparently aimed at her husband’s brother, who does not live with them. At the time of the raid, the SWAT team defended the shooting, saying it was a drug raid, although it declined to say whether it found any drugs in the house.
Mike Storie, a lawyer for the SWAT team, had also said in a press conference at the time that weapons and body armor were found in the home, along with a photo of Jesus Malverde, who Storie described as a “patron saint drug runner.”
The Marine veteran was asleep in his Tucson home, having just worked a night shift at the Asarco copper mine, when the shots were fired. When his wife saw the armed SWAT team outside her youngest son's bedroom window, she yelled, “Don't shoot! I have a baby!”
ABC reported that SWAT team members fired 71 times and hit Guerena 60 times.
A report by the ABC News affiliate KGUN found that more than an hour had passed before the SWAT team let the paramedics come in and treat Guerena. Storie defended the long delay, saying the SWAT team didn’t know how many shooters were inside the home. Vanessa Guerena says that when she begged for paramedics to come inside, the SWAT team “forcefully and violently” dragged her from her home, and a “frightened, crying, and traumatized Joel Guerena, age four, exited a short time later of his own volition wearing his Spider-Man pajamas.”
By the time paramedics arrived, Guerena had died.
Vanessa Guerena is seeking unspecified damages for negligence.