Gonzalo Guizan: Another Death by Drug War

Monday, June 9th, 2008

On May 18, police in Easton, Connecticut conducted a heavily-armed drug raid on the home of Ronald Terebesi, Jr. They began the raid by throwing flashbang grenades through Terebesi’s windows, then battering down his door and storming the house. Friends say at the time of the raid, 33-year-old Gonzalo Guizan was visiting Terebesi to discuss the possibility of opening an employment business. According to police, the unarmed Guizan charged the raiding officers, at which point they shot and killed him.

As usual, the police, prosecutors, and state investigators are hunkering down, and not talking to the press. But some information is tricking out. Here’s what we know:

• The raid came after a tip from a stripper who had visited Trebesi’s home. She reported seeing two glass pipes and said she witnessed Trebesi smoke a small amount of crack cocaine he stored in a tin. She made the report at 9am on the same day of the raid.

• There was a reported drive-by shooting at Trebesi’s home in March, though Trebesi appears to have been the victim, not the perpetrator.

• Police found no guns in the home, but did find some cocaine and the two pipes, and have charged Trebesi with possession, which means there wasn’t enough to trigger an automatic charge of distribution.

So we have a heavily-armed, paramilitary-style raid conducted based on a tip from a stripper of drug use, not distribution. In the process, a slight, unarmed man runs toward the raiding police officers, and is shot dead.

I think it’s safe to say that Guizan likely had no idea the intruders were police. If he was aware of the shots fired at Trebesi’s home in March, he likely thought Trebesi was being attacked again. But it seems unlikely (to put it mildly) that an unarmed man would knowingly run toward a team of well-armed, raiding police officers to protect his friends small stash of cocaine.

We’re told over and over that even in no-knock raids, the police announce themselves as they’re coming into the home, and that everyone inside ought to know they’re being raided by cops, not criminal intruders. But if that’s the case, why deploy flash grenades just before making entry? They’re designed to disorient and confuse. That’s the whole reason for using them. You can’t at the same time say it’s necessary to disorient and confuse people, but that they also should hear, recognize, process, and believe the police announcement you make at the same time you’re deploying the concussion grenades.

Finally, it looks right now as if the raid was a reaction to a tip from a single source that Trebesi and possibly Guizan were using drugs. There’s as yet no indication there was any evidence of distribution. The raid was done within hours of the tip from the stripper, so it’s unlikely the police did much surveillance or attempted a controlled drug by from Trebesi.

The police will argue the officer who shot Guizan was reacting to a volatile situation. He had precious little time to determine whether the man running toward him was armed, or whether he presented a threat to the officer’s safety. That’s all probably true, though it doesn’t account for the fact that the police created those volatile circumstances in the first place. It also doesn’t account for the fact that had Guizan been the one who misjudged the threat and shot and killed one of the raiding officers, he’d almost certainly be in Ryan Frederick’s shoes right now.

The best solution is of course to stop these aggressive drug policing tactics, which continue result in unnecessary deaths and injuries. But if you’re going to insist on using them, you can’t keep holding the people you’re raiding to a higher standard than the (hopefully) well-trained police officers conducting the raids.

Guizan’s parents—who lost their only other son in a car accident—are considering a lawsuit.

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23 Responses to “Gonzalo Guizan: Another Death by Drug War”

  1. #1 |  z | 

    There is an explanation for why the police say they announce and yet no-one hears them: When 1 person is shouting something very loudly, people hear him. But when 5 or 10 people all start shouting randomly at the same time, it just sounds like noise.

  2. #2 |  seeker6079 | 

    1. What Z said.

    2. We’re not obliged to believe the police story that he was running towards them.

    3. Even if we believe that story, the How remains important. I might run from one gun-toting screaming masked man smack into the gunsight of another.

    4. There’s eight thousand people in Easton, Connecticut. Why on earth do they have a SWAT team? There’s bigger crowds than that at some c-grade rock concerts and those are handled with a few paid duty officers, even though there’s probably way more drugs there!

    5. The fact that no interesting stuff happens in many small towns is probably a good reason why their cops go crazy on pissant little offences like this. It’s an excellent argument against letting small town police forces have SWAT teams; if there’s no serious crime then the machine guns get gleefully hauled out for picayune stuff.

    6. I am so tired, oh so tired, of police asking for special rules for themselves.

  3. #3 |  Andrew | 

    I was going to reply, but I can’t say it better than seeker6079, so I’ll just say I agree with 100% of what he said there.

  4. #4 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    To elaborate on a point Radley made, flash bang grenades do disorient and confuse. How can ANYONE expect a confused, disoriented person to hear and obey a command or hear “Police” at any volume?? HE WAS DISORIENTED AND CONFUSED, dammit!!

    Trained soldiers have a hard time staying focused when explosions are going off around them. So why do we expect civilians (possibly drugged civilians) to be able to comprehend what is going on in the split seconds of the raid? Its classic, A-1 grade BS.

    It really is us against them. The thin blue line has become one wide red freeway: Danger!

  5. #5 |  SJE | 

    I heard that Dr. Steven Hayne will testify that the deceased was brandishing a rocket propelled grenade and yelling “death to America”

  6. #6 |  Zeb | 

    Almost as scary as the police response is the fact that this woman felt that calling the police is an appropriate response to observing someone use drugs in their own home.
    I bet she has reconsidered her feelings on that subject since she seems to have got her friend shot because of it.

  7. #7 |  Chris in AL | 

    Somehow I doubt this was the strippers first time witnessing someone using drugs. The cops probably had something on her and she was trying to (or being forced to) ‘roll over’ on someone.

    Maybe she was caught offereing up some special treatment in the VIP room. Maybe she was caught with some drugs herself. WHo knows.

    The long and the short of it is, we as tax payers are ass-raped to provide enough funds to supply these paramilitary scumbags with this equipment and firepower, and as usual, they produce one dead innocent man and a some guy’s personal stash. Not a very good return on investment there.

    If anybody in the private sector produced so few results, for so much money for so many decades…

    What am I saying, only in government can incompetence like that go on for so long.

    The drug war is the cops version of World of Warcraft and the endless supply low level ‘ememies’ to level up on. Cops can come in as rookies, level up through promotions, and achieve their success, even though the ‘problem’ is exactly the same (or worse) as when they started, ready to help the next rookie level up. It is really a scam. A self generating, self-sustaining creation of need where none ever existed. And it sucks our money up like…a great, big…sucking thing.

  8. #8 |  Against Stupidity | 

    She obviously wasn’t his friend. I wouldn’t be surprised that she was pissed at him and thought this would only cause the police to go over and harass him. I’ll bet she was horrified when she learned the police went in guns blazing and killed someone over such a pissant offense.

  9. #9 |  Mrs. C | 

    I offer my most sincere condolences…to the parents of Gonzalo Guizan.

    To lose a child…is the most painful and devastating loss…one can suffer…having this happen twice to a family… is beyond words.
    My prayers go out to them.

    These incidents need to be addressed…they cry out for preventative changes in policies…procedures… and training…full investigative transparency…and absolute accountability.

    When law enforcement is at fault…there cannot be double standards…if there is going to be any hope…in an effort to minimize the senseless…and unnecessary taking of lives…on both sides.

    We are all “His” children…and will someday have to answer to Him.

    What will be said to those of them…who fabricate reasons…for initiating and trying to justify…the inexcusable abuse of power…they employ…in unwarranted situations…that result in the taking of someone’s life?

    http://www.justiceforsal.com

    God Bless you Radley…

  10. #10 |  Frank N Stein | 

    There needs to be a grassroots effort to help get all non-criminals who live in targeted neighborhoods a concealed carry permit and perhaps some charity to help offset the cost of their first firearm. The goons who perpetuate military-style tactics on non-violent offenses (sorry, the unsubstantiated tip of possible non-violent criminal activity of some vague kind and degree) will only understand equal violence brought to bear on them.

    Were any of these jackasses wearing Death Dealer shirts?

  11. #11 |  concernedcitizen | 

    I love the double standard.

    Us: We’re police officers, highly trained and making a dynamic entry into possibly dangerous quarters that we have conducted extensive surviellence on, and in this highly dynamic situation that we have planned and orchestrated we sometimes have to make quick decisions that are sometimes not the right decisions. As a result, sometimes people die.

    You: You’re little people. Despite the fact that we will deliberately try to disorient you and confuse you and keep you guessing as to what exactly is happening so that we will have the element of surprise, you will be expected to behave perfectly logically and understand exactly what is going on. If you don’t, we might have to kill you. If you get really confused and kill an officer in the confusion, we will make sure you regret it. There is no excuse for you to kill a police officer.

  12. #12 |  J. D. Johnson | 

    I have beening reading your site for a long time. I think its time to start a web site entitled “In honor of the innocent” for those citizens who have died unjustly at the hands of those who allegedly swore to protect them. Perhaps we should call it the “Donald Scott” list.

    Then, when completed to date, we should send it to every elected official and to every police chief and sheriff in this land. I envision a NY Times full-page ad.

    This must stop!!!!

  13. #13 |  Red Green | 

    JD…try” vigil for lost promise.org”. Over at drugwarrant .com, Peter Guither ,has assembled a tribute,testimony. The war on some drugs and all citizens is a fraud, and the stupid don’t know it. TheWhiteHouseOfficeofDrugControlPolicy is responsible for more death and violence then all the cartels put together.

  14. #14 |  J. D. Johnson | 

    Thanks Red for the tip…going to check it out.

  15. #15 |  Cat | 

    ‘…Escape reflex is a simple reflector reaction that initiates an escape motion in response to stimuli indicative of danger.

    …the brain is only aware of the response AFTER it has taken place.’

    Yet occupants/suspects “should hear, recognize, process”, and respond appropriately when surprised by a no-knock raid.

    Nothing contradictory about that is there?

  16. #16 |  mike | 

    Paramilitary raid for drug use?? Fricking animals. How often does that happen? Even if it takes decades, hopefully these cops will eventually be held accountable for this senseless slaughter.

  17. #17 |  Blagnet.net » Blog Archive » Gonzalo Guizan: another death by drug war | 

    [...] Radley Balko writes of another victim of the paramilitary-style drug raids that Republocrats and their myrmidon voters continue to support in the name of protecting our liberties or our morals or some such. On May 18, police in Easton, Connecticut conducted a heavily-armed drug raid on the home of Ronald Terebesi, Jr. They began the raid by throwing flashbang grenades through Terebesi’s windows, then battering down his door and storming the house. Friends say at the time of the raid, 33-year-old Gonzalo Guizan was visiting Terebesi to discuss the possibility of opening an employment business. According to police, the unarmed Guizan charged the raiding officers, at which point they shot and killed him. [...]

  18. #18 |  Blagnet.net » Blog Archive » Gonzalo Guizan: another death by drug war | 

    [...] Radley Balko writes of another victim of the paramilitary-style drug raids that Republocrats and their myrmidon voters continue to support in the name of protecting our liberties or our morals or some such. On May 18, police in Easton, Connecticut conducted a heavily-armed drug raid on the home of Ronald Terebesi, Jr. They began the raid by throwing flashbang grenades through Terebesi’s windows, then battering down his door and storming the house. Friends say at the time of the raid, 33-year-old Gonzalo Guizan was visiting Terebesi to discuss the possibility of opening an employment business. According to police, the unarmed Guizan charged the raiding officers, at which point they shot and killed him. [...]

  19. #19 |  TG | 

    Gonzalo was a good friend of mine who definitely wasn’t the type to go charging at police. He was tiny. Easton doesn’t have a SWAT team. What the they do is collect one of two officers from a bunch of towns in the county and they all train together forming a county-wide SWAT. In an ultimate irony, because of the team coming from surround towns, two of the officers taking part new Gonzalo through mutual friends.

  20. #20 |  Keith | 

    I have known Gonze for many years and know him to be extremely unpredictable. The actions of these officers is not known and I think it is sad that all these idiots immediately blame cops. You all hate them until some p.o.s. kicks in your door and tries to rob you. How about all you tough guys out their go chase scumbags down dark alleys.

  21. #21 |  leah riccio | 

    Gonzolo was an ulimate friend that i loved dearly! He was a smart witty person who loved everyone! He will be missed! This is something that is so hard to try to get over. I understand the cicumstances at the Teribisi home but YOU POLICE FOUND NOTHING! I hope what your stupid plan that was not thought out at all reams you! You took away a person who will be missed so much you wouldnt believe! Gonzolo was a very good friend and I have to live with missing him and his laugh his cute sayings FOREVER ! Its very hard and his poor loving parents who I adore!
    I hope the dumb police force gets what they deserve: JAIL!
    Gonzolo I love you ! You will be in my heart forever.. love Leah Riccio.. and are gang: Bobby Crawley, Sean Beck, John Maduzzla

  22. #22 |  leah riccio | 

    I miss him! Anyone that went to Fairfield U will remember is famous saying! We’ll just let Bygons Be Bygons !
    I love you Gonz ! And yes I would of been the best man in his wedding! even though Im a girl! We were going to change the rules together! Gonz and I loved good attention. He used to tell me that I could rule the world. ( Looks, brains and determination) thats what my best friend woud say! I love him and I dont know if i will ever get over this but he will be missed! My heart goes out to his loving parents and please call me.. My heart hurts so much that I dont wish this pain that I feel on my own worst enemy! XXXXOOO

  23. #23 |  leah riccio | 

    Traci and I loved Gonz also ! Hey girl ! God took our friend away from us and now we have to deal! He loved the both of us dearly!
    This is one horriable situation!

    This for GONZ ! (WHATS GOING ON?) bygons be bygons!!!!!!!! i love you and i will miss you forever! your girl> leah riccio XXXXXOOOOO

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