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"They're going to fire until the threat is over."
Questions of excessive force are once again being raised, this time in Tucson, Arizona after a SWAT team fired over 70 times at a 26-year-old former Marine during a drug raid that has yet to turn up any evidence against the now deceased soldier. Questions are also being raised after the SWAT team changed its story, first saying that Jose Guerena had fired on them, but later retracing that. A new report says Guerena's gun was never fired and never taken off safety. And now, video from the team shows the deadly raid:
KGUN-TV explains what happened the morning of May 5:
As the SWAT team prepares to serve their search warrant on Jose Guerena's home one of the first things they do is turn on their sirens. After eight seconds the siren is turned off and we hear the team announce their presence.
"Police, search warrant open the door," an officer screams on the audio file.
Moments later the door is busted open. The video shows officers start entering the home when shots ring out for a full seven seconds nonstop. An officer is seen falling out of the doorway as the shooting stops.
The team backs out of the house, unknowing they had struck the suspect. They use their PA system to call out to anyone in the home.
"This is the Pima County Sheriff's Department we need you to come to the front door with your hands up."
Five minutes after SWAT arrives, evacuations of the neighborhood get underway. In the audio it's clear the team begins to regroup.
"Everybody relax at this point. Whoever was up at the door, do a quick check of each other to make sure we're covered and we're good. Make sure no one has got holes in them ok," an officer said.
According to the Daily Mail, the officers originally claimed Guerena fired on them. But a police report later found that to be false:
A police investigation revealed that officers fired more than 70 shots.
Deputies said they opened fire after Guerena, 26, gestured at them with an AR-15, according to the report.
Some of the officers said they believed that Guerena fired on them, but the investigation showed that no shots were fired from the weapon and it was never taken off the safety position.
Police allege that the former Marine was involved in drug smuggling, robbery and human smuggling.
But a search of the home found nothing illegal. Officers found a handgun and body armour in the house.
The five SWAT team members remain on active duty. No criminal charges have been filed and no disciplinary action taken.
Mr Guerena's wife, Vanessa, said she heard her husband moaning as he lay dying, his body struck by 22 of the bullets.
Ms Guerena told ABC News: 'I saw his stomach, all the blood on the floor'.
She said her goal now is to 'clear his good name'. Ms Guerena said their son Joel keeps asking about his deceased father, 'Is he a bad guy?'
A lawyer for the SWAT team defended the officers' actions, saying it's clear that the team announced itself and gave the victim a chance to respond. When they saw a gun, they had to respond:
"In your opinion, is this now cut and dry once you see the video?" KGUN9 asked. "Yeah, you watch the video and clearly you hear sirens, you see them (SWAT) approach, you see them knock and announce several times. Clearly, anyone in the area will know police were there," explained SWAT lawyer Mike Storie.
And, lots of them, SWAT admits to firing 71 shots in just seven seconds. After the shooting, the Pima County Sheriff's Department Lieutenant Michael O'Connor explained that number of shots, "They're going to fire until the threat is over. (SWAT) fired in seven seconds."
And, Storie told us there was a threat; a gun pointed right at them. The deputy to the right of the shielder, Storie said, saw it first, "The person above his right shoulder will be the first one who is looking down the hallway who will see the gun turning the corner and being raised towards them."
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