Video of the Pima County SWAT Raid

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department has now released the helmet cam video of the raid you see above.

I count about eight seconds of one siren. Which is probably why some of the neighbors don’t recall hearing one. I think I hear about 8-10 seconds of a man shouting something that sounds like “police” and “search warrant”, but it’s difficult to hear, and that’s from a camera that looks to be about 15 feet away (though possibly in a closed vehicle). It certainly isn’t the blaring sirens and 45 seconds of knocking and screaming of “police” that Mike Storie indicated.

Now imagine you’re asleep—behind a couple walls, after working a graveyard shift—for what you see in the video. Would you have woken up and known that these were cops breaking into your home? Might it have been in the back of your mind that you had relatives murdered by armed intruders just a year ago?

As I wrote in my column, if we see convincing evidence that Guerena was part of a violent home-invasion ring, and that this is what the search was for (as opposed to a marijuana investigation, as press reports initially indicated), I’ll reassess my opinion of the police action. That there were perfectly legal guns, armor, and, as far as we know right now, a Border Patrol baseball cap in his home is far from convincing evidence.

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104 Responses to “Video of the Pima County SWAT Raid”

  1. #1 |  Tyro | 

    6-8 seconds of a siren. I wonder if I’d be thinking car alarm or police?

    What really scared me is just how fast they went from knocking to firing. If it was me in that house, I don’t think I would be fully processing that people had smashed down the door and I _know_ it would take more than a few shouts of “drop it” before it would sink in and I’d understand what’s going on.

    The thought of being gunned down in my house without having a clue about what’s going on makes me very sad.

  2. #2 |  Tyro | 

    Oh – does anyone know of any cases where stray police rounds hurt or killed anyone? With all these puppycide cases and now this, it’s just a matter of time before a bullet goes through a wall or floor and kills someone in another room, maybe in another apartment or house.

  3. #3 |  SWAT Helmet Cam Captures Shooting of Jose Guerena - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine | 

    […] via The Agitator. See Reason's coverage of Guerena […]

  4. #4 |  Abersouth | 

    This was so stupidly tragic. I hope those cops hate themselves.

  5. #5 |  Jerri Lynn Ward | 

    I keep wondering whether they are going to attempt to tar him with the home invasion of his wife’s relatives. Where else would Storie have come up with that idea?

  6. #6 |  michael | 

    They seemed surprised that the shooting happened. Note that three of the swat members were standing in the back, not really paying attention, when the first member looked into the doorway. All three jumped when they head gunfire, and two ran for cover.

    I don’t think they expected to meet armed resistance.

  7. #7 |  AlgerHiss | 

    I was upbraided a while back for comparing Clarence Dupnik to Joe Arpiao. Sorry Radley, but this douschebag is just as rotten as Arpiao.

  8. #8 |  Whappan? | 

    “The thought of being gunned down in my house without having a clue about what’s going on makes me very sad.”

    But it makes the police very happy.

  9. #9 |  CharlesWT | 

    The siren sure sounds like a car alarm. And there’s certainly no siren on approach.

    Tucson SWAT shooting of former Marine (video)

  10. #10 |  Greg | 

    Absotively, posilutely horseshit Mickey Mouse. I’ve seen wannabees on paintball teams breach a door and enter a building with more precision and discipline.

    Beyond the obvious lack of warning (as Tyro noted, anyone in their right mind would think car alarm) these guys tactical errors left an almost inevitable result of free fire on anything that moved.

    This is all the complete opposite of sound tactics even if this dude were a known militant armed to the teeth with a death-wish. In fact, especially if he was.

    Breacher steps casually away.Not deliberately or methodically, casually. No sense of urgency. You’ve just let whomever was inside know that you’re in his house. Do you want to give them 2 seconds to acquire that front doorway as a target?

    Three, three in the doorway in single-file all basically standing up. The guy following the riot shield has his head poking up – if there was a seriously bad dude waiting on the other side he could hold aim and double tap those yutzes as they fell. Their bodies would block the egress for the guy bearing the shield, leaving him to fight it out with a sidearm and/or abandon the shield.

    No coverage on the front windows, when they breached he could have unloaded on the vehicles and the two lollygaggers.

    There’s many more blatant errors I really don’t feel like listing them. If you wanna know what a truly tragic comedy of incompetence this was, just talk to any grunt-level Iraq/Afghanistan vet.

  11. #11 |  Whim | 

    At least the raid was in daylight. The eight seconds of police siren sounded remarkably like a car alarm.

    I actually never saw the police either knock or announce. I saw one member “appear” to knock, but never heard the knock, nor did I hear him announce “Police – Search Warrant”. He appeared to only hold his hand up to the door for benefit of the cameraman.

    Then, another officer stood in the way of the cameraman while something blew open the door. Probably a sabot round from a 12 gauge shotgun fired against the deadbolt lock. It is also possible that the explosion that I attribute to the shotgun was actually a flashbang grenade.

    Remember, the police practice their correography, including where it is necessary to intentionally block the camera from recording proceedings. Jailers do this all the time when they whale on a prisoner. They KNOW where the camera is, and block the view of their misconduct.

    The police panic fired to great excess. They acted like frightened school children reacting to a wasp.

    They were invading a citizen’s castle. Isn’t a man’s home his CASTLE?

    Apparently not when a SWAT team decides they own your ass and your house.

    The real purpose of these SWAT teams is TERROR. Terrorizing the citizens of America as an adjunct to the War on Drugs.

    Also known as Obediance Training.

    The War on Drugs is a War on Americans.

    I hope that the Jose Guerena family gets $100,000,000 in compensation from the Pima County taxpayers.

  12. #12 |  Salt | 

    @#4 – They don’t hate themselves. Their #1 priority is to make sure their stories are square with each other for the reports & interviews which follow this despicable act.

  13. #13 |  Waggoneer | 

    Someone gave the Keystone Kops green tactical garb.

  14. #14 |  Dan | 

    Notice you hear both a knock then a thump at the door (before it is breached) and it is is much louder than any of the voices. I think the voices you hear are coming from a nearby raid, not this one. I did not hear one clear announcement.

    I counted 9-10 seconds after the knock on the door before entry. Hell the UPS guy has to wait longer than that when I am in my office and 6 feet from the front door. If I am asleep it would be considerably longer. Car alarm or sirens inclusive.

    After the door fell, there was 8 or 9 seconds before gunfire. That seems a reasonable amount of time for a very startled me to tell my wife to hide, arm myself and confront the intruders.

  15. #15 |  Frank Hummel | 

    I was gonna do some Monday morning quarterbacking on the “professionals” doing the dynamic entry but Greg pretty much summed it up. I’ve seen weekend warrior army reservists do a better job after a day of training.

    I hope these guys never have to actually face a really hostile situation. We’ll hear no end of how “brave heroes” gave their lives.

  16. #16 |  CharlesWT | 

    It looks like they were planing to do a routine, by the numbers, take down, except they left the numbers back at the station.

  17. #17 |  Bob | 

    Mother of Jesus.

    Cops run car alarm for a few seconds. That wakes up the perp.

    Then they wait a few seconds, and knock, rather gently I might add… on the door. Then shoot the door in and charge in.

    And execute the homeowner.

    That’s good work, boys. If… you’re the Gestapo.

  18. #18 |  John P. | 

    These guys all think they are DELTA Force or a Team of Navy SEALS storming a house in Pakistan going to kill Bin Laden…

  19. #19 |  Andy | 

    This settles it for me. Regardless of the situation, unless the police knock on my door, wait for me to open it, announce they have a search warrant and show it to me like cops USED to do.

    There will be at least 2 bodies in the morgue during that government run home invasion.

    The first body in the door (cop or not) and quite possibly me.

    But one of those jerks will join me in the afterlife.

    These SWAT teams need to all be disbanded and investigations run on every single no knock warrant that they have served. If any of them are found to have violated the law during one of them, they should be tried and if found guilty appropriately punished. Up to and including the death sentence if their actions resulted in a murder (Like this one did).

  20. #20 |  BoscoH | 

    That looked so casual, like these guys were showing up and phoning it in, not like they were trying to send a message. Just looked like amateur hour. I’m surprised nobody tossed the end of jelly donut as they left the vehicle. Maybe that’s the biggest problem with militarizing the cops in every neighborhood. These guys just don’t look up to the task of being soldiers.

    Any idea what the neighborhood is like? That looked like a decent single family home or condo. If they asked him to come out, would he start firing RPGs or escape through a tunnel?

  21. #21 |  Dan | 

    Speaking of the SEAL that killed Bin Laden..

    (Warning: Language alert)

  22. #22 |  Whim | 

    The SWAT team member starting the shooting appears to be very SHORT in stature.

    Was she a woman police officer/clerk on a SWAT ride-along to get her groove off?

    There was no real knock at the door. There may have been one “knock”, then the explosion blowing the lock off the door.

    Followed by the guy who pushed open the door.

    Followed by a hail of gunfire.

    Keystone Cops.

  23. #23 |  SWAT Helmet Cam Captures Shooting of Jose Guerena | Daily Libertarian | 

    […] via The Agitator. See Reason’s coverage of Guerena […]

  24. #24 |  PhilM | 

    Until we get some of these criminal cops and their administrators brought up on pre-meditated homicide charges in a real trial, nothing will change. The tactics and actions of these SWAT team members should cause any competent reviewer to pull their credentials and drum them off the force. I hope the family and lawyers for Jose Guerena can bring both civil and criminal charges against all involved.

  25. #25 |  Greg | 

    I hope these guys never have to actually face a really hostile situation. We’ll hear no end of how “brave heroes” gave their lives.

    Frank, obviously you cringed as much as I did. I can only imagine how horrible the rest of the footage would be, if only it hadn’t all been lost to a computer glitch.

    The part of this whole escalation psychology that boggles my mind. is that whole idea of dynamic entry with overwhelming numbers, superior tactics and firepower is designed to minimize casualties when facing someone who has little or nothing to lose.

    Instead, SWAT teams are crashing through doors like a bunch of drunken traffic cops with some matching armor and hardware. Coupling bad tactics with far hairier-trigger-fingers than on Fallujah vets pretty much inevitably leads to dead people instead of a high-risk fugitive taken without a shot.

    Using a SWAT team is always carries an inherent risk. The more they are deployed in completely non-dangerous scenarios (low level pot dealers?!?) the greater the odds of bad things inadvertently happening. The pathetic lack of quality training only raises the odds even higher.

  26. #26 |  Jim March | 

    First obvious thought: I want to see more camera footage of what these clowns did over the next hour+ while their victim was bleeding out.

    Second: look at :54sec in – the guy closest to the “assault truck” has at least two thingies on his head, presumably one a camera. So that’s at least one other known source of audio and video.

    Third: listen carefully to the first gunshots. The first three are a controlled string of three, fired semi-auto and pretty fast. Then the rest join in. Somebody started this rodeo very deliberately, not accidentally as the spokesthugs have suggested.

    Fourth, why has the official story changed? First he was a drug dealer, now he’s “involved with a home invasion crew”. Really? You’d think they’d know what the dude was before they killed him right? Or was this a “wrong door” affair and they’re now scrambling to put something together on him?

    Fifth: soft rock on the radio? Really? You’d think they’d at least crank some Metallica or whatever? Disturbed? Rob Zombie? Just sayin’.

  27. #27 |  CharlesWT | 

    “Show me the man[and his possessions] and I’ll find you the crime.”

  28. #28 |  Barnes | 

    Sounds like everyone on the team wanted a chance to get some gunplay in

  29. #29 |  Sinchy | 

    A few comments have suggested that the door was blown open with a shotgun or explosive of some sort but look closer and you will clearly see that after one guy knocks at about 26 secs on the vid a big guy comes in with a battering ram and knocks the door open at 33 secs.
    Storie’s 45 seconds of shouting that they were police is a complete lie.
    The siren goes off first for about a second stops then turns back on for a total of about 7 seconds and sounds very much like a car alarm.
    I don’t think they had any idea who was in the house because if they did know who Jose was, why didn’t they just send a patrol car to the mine and pick him up after work for questioning? Oh, it’s not as fun.

  30. #30 |  Vietarmis | 

    This is pathetic. Seriously. As some of the other guys have said, I have seen boots just out of SOI do better clearing jobs than this… I wouldn’t even call it clearing, or a job. What the fuck is up with every swinging dick just looking like they are on a stroll at the park? Why the fuck are SWAT doing minor crime raids in the first fucking place? No offense women, but how many women did they have on that team? I’m sorry, but you know what this looks like to me? It looks like a bunch of national guard reservists got into swat to me, and the police (and I mean chief) and judge are either stupid, or involved in something deeper.

  31. #31 |  ktc2 | 

    @ #2


    Well there was that raid where one cop shot the families dog in the backyard for no reason, which another cop inside mistook for a firefight starting and the cop inside started shooting blindly through the walls of the house and murdered a mother who was on her knees in another room holding her infant. The same bullet also shot off the infants hand.

    I’d say that more than qualifies.

  32. #32 |  Marty | 

    murderers. Guerena is better armed, trained, and prepared than I am… terrifying.

    I wish there were credible people who knew him speaking out about his character to counter the smear campaign against him. It’d be nice if guys he served with were being interviewed, co-workers, etc.

    It’d be nice if the Marines went on the offensive to defend one of their own. I guess the reality is that they’re another govt institution, so the individual isn’t important.

  33. #33 |  paranoiastrksdp |

    Wonder how long this stays up in the light of them executing a fucking veteran? Fucking disgusting. These cowboys really do think they’re in a “war”. It’d be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic.

  34. #34 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    The 80’s Hollywood action movie explosion behind this team of nimrods photograph says volumes of why Jose Guerena is dead.


  35. #35 |  Dan | 

    Then they failed fully half of their mission on this outing. From the Pima Sheriff’s SWAT website…

    “Personnel from each of the participating agencies are divided among squads, creating equally diverse and strong teams. The Regional SWAT team is comprised of four tactical squads, two negotiations squads, an EOD/bomb squad, and a medical support squad.”

    “The Tactical element is responsible for the service of high-risk warrants, making entry, and effecting the arrest of barricaded subjects. They train a minimum of two days per month in all areas of SWAT operations. Personnel undergo a strenuous selection process prior to being added to the team. Members must maintain high standards to remain active with the team.”

    “The Negotiations element is responsible for gathering intelligence and directing crisis negotiations with barricaded subjects and hostage-takers. Negotiators undergo extensive training in the psychology of criminal activity and negotiations so as to achieve peaceful resolutions.”

    “The Tactical Emergency Medical Support element provides emergency medical support to the entire SWAT team and suspects or victims requiring emergency medical services. TEMS is staffed by paramedics from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. The paramedics are fully integrated into the Tactical element and respond to all missions where SWAT is involved.”

    “The SWAT team members work together to resolve critical incidents that require specialized training, tactics, and equipment.”

  36. #36 |  Buddy Hinton | 

    slightly longer (at beginning) version of the video here:

  37. #37 |  Bob | 

    The longer video is telling as well.

    I saw no other cops outside as the van full of Delta Team wanna bees rolled up. I have to assume they were coming in cold.

    37 seconds after the vehicle stops the shooting starts. There was no attempt whatsoever to talk anyone out, fuck, they didn’t even verify the address or stop to talk to any cops observing the house or anything.

    One guy in the van said “That’s it on the left.” then they stopped, piled out of the van and charged right in.

    Rolling to kill a man. 37 seconds.

    That’s following all the proper protocols, huh?

  38. #38 |  Dante | 

    It’s Official!

    Along with the Wars on Drugs, Terror, Poverty, Illegal Immigrants, Fatty Foods, Labrador Retrievers, Video Cameras and Truth, the police have now declared war on honorably-discharged US service men and women.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  39. #39 |  Bob | 

    I’m wondering what the feather in the guy’s helmet is all about.

    I’m also wondering what the guy with the shield’s job was supposed to be. As far as I can tell, he just laid down and held the shield over himself to block the doorway. no one stood behind him, no one thought he was “The shield guy” that they should stand behind for protection. he was just in the way of their Delta Force Combat Break-in. In fact, at the tail of the shooting, he was holding his shield towards the SWAT team… he knew who the gun happy nuts who would probably shoot him were.

    Why don’t they just mount chain guns to the SWAT van and open up from the street? 37 seconds! Come on! You can get that down to 10 or 15 seconds, easy.

  40. #40 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Mayors of US Cities: I’d be happy to take over duties of serving the warrants that your SWAT teams continue to fuck up. I will do it for 1/10th the cost of a full SWAT deployment plus 1/4 of the lawsuits you always end up paying out because SWAT and Police Chiefs are fuck-ups.

    I will promise no casualties and certainly no injuries to myself. How will I do this? Two ways:
    1. I’m not as big a violent fuck-up as SWAT and police chiefs
    2. I learnt how to use my words when I were a toddler.

    What to do with SWAT? Have them practice raiding each other’s homes. After a month they’ll have killed each other and you’ll have only one moustache-wearing SWAT moron to account for.

  41. #41 |  Anthony | 

    They don’t look like they’re going they had the attitude of taking out a home invasion ring or dangerous drug dealer. They look like they’re going in to harras a pot head and get some good asset forfeiture loot. It doesn’t appear that the expected resistance.

    They want to play dress up and act like Soldiers but they don’t learn or quickly forget the most paramount rules: weapons orientation, weapon on safe and finger off the trigger, AND TO POSITIVELY IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET! What the fuck was the on thug doing putting his pistol between to other thugs and blindly emptying the magazine?

    You can hear one thug say on tape (I think this is over the radio) “bang, bang, bang” I guess that’s how they knock.

    If police are going to do this in the name of fighting a war then they should be held to the Law of War and Geneva Convention. Not rendering aid is a war crime. Those who don’t report should be charged, those in charge of this circus O’ death should too.

    I’m with Andy, I’m going down guns ablazing if SAWT comes a not knocking.

  42. #42 |  Mike T | 

    Dupnik: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. If you’ve obeyed the law, then your men should welcome the light of public scrutiny because they’ll be seen for the professionals you claim them to be.

  43. #43 |  Joe | 

    I am glad this story is getting attention so we can get to the bottom of what actually happened. Keep up the good work Radley.

  44. #44 |  Joe | 

    As Al Pacino’s character said in Dog Day Afternoon: “He wants to kill me so bad he can taste it!”

    We need less of that with law enforcement.

  45. #45 |  Serpentio | 

    Even if there had been minutes of sirens and warnings they wouldn’t have precluded the possibility of criminal attackers. Criminals can get sirens and dress like police. They can also approach in fake police cars and flash fake badges. It’s not a common occurrence, but still a dynamic that should be considered when drafting law enforcement protocol. The sad crux of the matter is that a SWAT raid is an armed attack, and law enforcement routinely uses open attack as the primary method of contact with certain suspects. Americans used to have the right to defend themselves from violent attack in their homes. Now the attackers may or may not be police officers, and that creates a paradox. If you try to defend yourself you may be killed by the police, but if you don’t try to defend yourself you may be killed by criminals.

  46. #46 |  Cyto | 

    Nice job only releasing the video from the guy in the van. There’s at least one video camera up front… but I’m sure they’ve already seen how damaging a video showing a homeowner stumbling out in his underwear only to get gunned down in less than a second can be. (HuffPo link in honor of Balko’s new job.)

  47. #47 |  Kristen | 


    I wish there were credible people who knew him speaking out about his character to counter the smear campaign against him

    I’m sure there are, but they can’t get the same media access and consideration as the Kops. We all know police depts control at least the local media. Here in DC, you can always tell when the anchors are reading a police press release verbatim.

  48. #48 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    Any way we can send those guys into Goldman Sachs?

  49. #49 |  Helmet Cam Video: SWAT Raid that killed Iraq Vet with 60 rounds. Almost no warning. Vet did not fire. No pot found. at | 

    […] by someguyfromcanada to politics [link] [37 […]

  50. #50 |  Zargon | 

    Well of course they’re all casual and relaxed while making the entry. SWAT teams don’t do forced entries like this on people who they think might actually be dangerous. 99% of the time, they’re just terrorizing harmless people who sometimes have some pot in their house.

    So is it any surprise that when they see something other than the terrified people they expect, they go off the deep end?

  51. #51 |  DrugsRBadmmK | 

    Well his life was worth the possibility of taking even an microgram of drugs off the streets.

  52. #52 |  TuvToo | 

    So sad, I am even more saddened that at least a few of the stupid cops were not taken out!

  53. #53 |  Serpentio | 

    SWAT has devolved into something that it was originally designed to defend against: armed and violent abductors.

  54. #54 |  maht | 

    bloody prawns

  55. #55 |  Greta | 

    @#39 Bob…

    The feather on the guy’s helmet is homage to a renowned sniper, Carlos “White Feather” Hathcock, who had an impressive record in the Marine Corps with 93 kills in Vietnam. He famously wore a white feather in the band of his bush cap.

    It is the emblem of an efficient killer, and this guy has adopted it out of hero worship. It’s an adolescent glorification of death. This guy is trying to live out his fantasy of being a crack shot killer. It’s pretty sickening. These guys should stick to Call of Duty: Black Ops or paintball. Jackasses.

  56. #56 |  CharlesWT | 

    “As a friend and co-worker you get to know the person you work next too, you learn about who they are aboout their personal life about their wife and children and what they stand for. This man is no criminal, he is one of the nicest person that i have worked with, the only way i can describe what happened is he he put in a long hard 12 hour grave yard shift as a miner and beleive when i say hard i mean hard work. He went home greeted is family like any father would do took a shower and went to bed. They he was rudely awaken by officers invading his home without announcing that they were law inforcement. He did what any father would do is arm himself to protect his family. He was a marine in my eyes he is a hero. I beleive if officers would have knocked on his door he would opened it with zero confortation and he would be alive today. The sheriffs department has been to our place of work to search his locker sounds to me they are fishing for something that does not exsist. Jose we miss you and our prayers go out to your family, God Bless.”
    PCSD ID’s man killed in morning SWAT situation

  57. #57 |  Concerned Citizen | 

    How long until they do one of these at a soldier’s house who has been back only a week or two and still has real combat reflexes.

    Or worse, they pull this kind of garbage on a team on break, couple of dozen of them against five men who actually know what they are doing, that should make the stupidity of the whole thing obvious.

    Hoping and praying law enforcement learns how to prioritize based on people actually getting hurt, not getting high.

  58. #58 |  CharlesWT | 

    Source of above link:

    Why did Arizona kill Jose Guerena, 26, Marine veteran of Iraq & Afghanistan?

  59. #59 |  Captain America | 

    God Bless America!

  60. #60 |  marco73 | 

    They haven’t released any more video, because they are still reviewing it to make sure that all the stories will match up. Also, if there is something really incriminating on the videos, then there can be a “malfunction” to remove any embarrassment before release.

  61. #61 |  Dan Z | 

    The guy running up from the back just so he can get a few shots in is disgusting. To many gung ho army types populate these swat teams, poorly trained to handle the situations and with itchy trigger fingers playing with their toys…

  62. #62 |  Chris in AL | 

    The shooting goes on for a long period of time. I wonder how many of those shots went into him after he was on the ground. How ‘brave’. I like how the helmet cam footage that was released was from the guy farthest away from the whole thing.

  63. #63 |  Brandon | 

    Any way we can send these guys into the oval office?

  64. #64 |  Curt | 

    #55… I think you hit the nail on the head. I made the comment in an earlier post that it was amazing that the cops managed to score hits with ~60 out of 71 shots (somewhere in that neighborhood). Normally that’s the number of shots that miss.

    Well, if he’s on the ground and not moving, it’s a lot easier to hit him.

  65. #65 |  Egypt Steve | 

    Why do you all hate Amerika? How can we be safe unless the Police have authority to kill anyone they want? Let’s look forward, not backward. USA! USA! USA! USA!

  66. #66 |  Sadee Bear | 

    Yep, sure looks like we’re getting closer and closer to a police state. Move over North Korea, there’s a new dictator in town. Next target, CD makers:

  67. #67 |  AC | 

    I hope these officers (thugs) suffer some sort of sleep disorder and that they all suffer for the rest of their lives.

  68. #68 |  BMP | 

    #63: grotesque. Few politicians give a damn about civil liberties. The left worries about being pilloried as soft on crime, and the right uses the idea of economic liberties to ensure that there are no obstacles to the wealthy getting wealthier, never talking about free movement of labor while they have no issues with free movement of capital, and seemingly regarding only the 2nd and 9th Amendments as worthy of their concern.

    There isn’t a practical difference between Arpaio and Dupnik, and the slightest hint that a person is a criminal is enough to justify militarized squadrons of cops being sent in with the go-ahead to kill. The same Supreme Court justices who get apoplectic about infringement on corporations and property rights regard suspected criminals as unworthy of meaningful legal defense or humane treatment, and God help you if you’re actually convicted. Libertarians with an affinity for political conservatives are lying to themselves.

    Thanks to Balko for giving this issue the attention it merits without tying it to political hackery.

  69. #69 |  BMP | 

    Sorry for my fat-fingered double post.

    One other thing: in the west Nashville neighborhood where I live, sirens right outside my house and the sounds at my door would make me think that an escapee from one of the nearby state prisons was trying to break in to find a place to hide. The first thing I would do is load my shotgun. And that would probably be the LAST thing I ever did, under similar circumstances as this Arizona police raid.

  70. #70 |  demize! | 

    Don’t count on it. In other news cops who repeatedly raped a women,caught on cctv re-entering here residence,apparently confessed get off not guilty. Juries and cops.

  71. #71 |  Henry | 

    The whole point of joining the SWAT team is to kill people, so they make the most of the chances that they get, anybody that thinks otherwise (cops, politicians, regular citizens) is deluding themselves.

    SWAT teams should be disbanded.

  72. #72 |  overgoverned | 

    There are no tactics in there to critique — it’s just a bunch of dudes clusterfucked around a doorway, with their backs to the windows that they’re ignoring. I’d like to see records of their training. Is this a full-time SWAT team, or deputies assigned to other duties who also deploy as SWAT? In either case, they’re terrible. Among the many problems with what they’re doing, they’re going to get themselves killed.

  73. #73 |  sigh | 

    This is all sorts of fucked up from a tactical standpoint. I don’t even know where to start. Perhaps the complete lack of fire discipline, the crowding in the doorway trying to make sure they got their own shots in… I’ll give them a pass for “falling on their ass” because that happens more than you’d think.

  74. #74 |  EH | 

    I think this guy was shot more than Murphy was shot by Clarence Boddicker in RoboCop.

  75. #75 |  Shag | 

    They raided four homes at once on this street, it is obvious the “police open up” shouts are coming from down the street and very unlikely that this marine could hear them…. pay close attention to the knock at the door you can CLEARLY hear the knock while the open up shouting sounds distant and muffled….it’s coming from down the street… this house they knocked ONCE three quick raps at the door, waited a few seconds then kicked it in and started shooting at the first thing they saw

  76. #76 |  Mike | 

    What is truly sad is these SWAT/Police members will get a small slap on the wrist and be back kicking in doors and shooting “suspects” before anything can be processed. Meanwhile this Family lost its Head of Household, another single mother with dependents, another kid to grow up without his father but more importantly the belief that we do live in a country by the People, for the People is forever ruined in this Family Tree.

  77. #77 |  cops lieALLthetime | 

    Terrorism at it’s best. The Ira could learn a lot by watching these murderers. Even though they found no drugs. They killed this vet for marijuana. I hope they all get leprosy and their dicks fall off.

  78. #78 |  namerequired | 

    No accountability, no justice

    Amend the constitution.

  79. #79 |  Cru | 


  80. #80 |  CasualPasserBy | 

    As I analyze the audio…

    Entire length of event, just over 53 seconds.
    Amount of siren time, 8 seconds, flash bang (somewhere) at second 17.
    Amount of knock/announce time (overlays with siren time) to door breach around 26 seconds.
    Almost 8 seconds after door breach to fire where you can clearly see them moving into the house, where it gets ‘seriously fucked up’ interesting.
    Main burst of shots taken from second 41 thru 49.

    ***Whats with the final round at second 51, 2 full seconds later, when people are talking? Was that a fucking coupedegrace?!?***

    Further enhancement should bring the voices out, sounds like the person who took that last shot was verbally reprimanded on scene, you hear multiple voices, something about grease on the floor?, a shot, silence and a “put that…come out here…” and then ‘standby’ by a different voice.

    A marine, 2hrs of sleep after working the night shift at a copper mine, safety on, I could see being crouched in a ‘click-aim-shoot’ capacity wondering WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON…..

  81. #81 |  Kristen | 

    @Mike…they’ll get a slap on the wrist? Highly unlikely. They’ll get commendations and promotions.

  82. #82 |  JS | 

    I’ve said before and I’ll say it again.. I’ll believe this country cares about freedom when they bring the troops home and turn them on the police.

  83. #83 |  CasualPasserBy | 

    I’m sure this isn’t the only vid of the incident they have, I wanna see one from one of the OTHER officers on or near point…

    Whats with the background music? Were they playing that vehicles radio or cd player during the operation?

    You can hear shouts from different parts of the neighborhood, what I see is they only knocked like 3 or 4 taps, yelled once, and then went in directly, no time for anyone to realistically answer the door, which I think a knock warrant is supposed to provide the ability to do, otherwise, why bother?

  84. #84 |  CasualPasserBy | 

    Yup, thought so….

    The Supreme Court has given some guidance as to how long officers must wait after knocking and announcing their presence before entry may be made. In U.S. v. Banks,[11] the Supreme Court found 15 to 20 seconds to be a reasonable wait time where officers received no response after knocking and where officers feared the home occupant may be destroying the drug evidence targeted by the search warrant.

    Guess someone left the stopwatch in one of the vehicles…..

  85. #85 |  CasualPasserBy | 

    But I doubt there will be a lawsuit.

    Peter C. TRACAS, surviving parent of George C. Tracas,
    deceased; Dorthy M. Tracas, surviving parent of George C.
    Tracas, deceased and as Personal Representative for the
    Estate of George C. Tracas, deceased, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
    Mike C. DENNEY, Andres O. Vasquez; Ronald B. Cox; Fermin
    R. Torrez, aka Therman, Defendants-Appellees.

    No. 96-16769.

    United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

    Argued and submitted October 9, 1997.

    Filed Nov. 24, 1997.

    Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, D.C. No. CIV 92-1451 PCT PGR; Paul G. Rosenblatt, District Judge, Presiding.

    Before GOODWIN, FLETCHER, and RYMER Circuit Judges.


    Plaintiffs are the surviving parents of George Tracas, who was killed by Arizona SWAT team police officers during an arrest attempt at Tracas’ trailer home. Plaintiffs appeal the district court’s judgment as a matter of law in favor of the police officers on Plaintiffs’ wrongful death claim and on Plaintiffs’ civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and 28 U.S.C. § 1294. We affirm.


    We first address the wrongful death claim. Plaintiffs argue that the wrongful death claim was improperly decided because the Arizona SWAT team officer who shot and killed George Tracas did not act in justifiable self-defense.

    Pursuant to Arizona statute, an officer cannot be subjected to civil liability if his conduct is justified under the Arizona criminal code. A.R.S. § 13-413. The Arizona criminal code justifies a killing in self-defense where a person reasonably believes deadly physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself from the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly physical force. A.R.S. § 13-405. A self-defense claim is forfeited only if the person claiming self-defense willingly and knowingly provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force. A.R.S. § 13-404(B)(3); U.S. v. Garcia, 826 F.2d 806, 812 (9th Cir.1987).

    In the instant case, the district court determined that the Arizona SWAT team officer who shot and killed George Vasquez could have reasonably believed that his life was in imminent danger when he fired his weapon. The uncontradicted evidence supports this conclusion. Consequently, it cannot be said the district court erred in concluding, as a matter of law, that the police officer was justified in shooting George Tracas in self-defense.

    Plaintiffs’ argument that the police officer should, nevertheless, lose his self-defense jurisdiction under the provocation exception is unavailing. In entering the trailer home, the officer was trying to obtain Tracas’ lawful custody. Plaintiffs allege the police officers acted negligently in effecting the arrest. Plaintiffs may well be correct, but negligence, recklessness, or even wanton negligence is not enough to constitute provocation under Arizona state law. Garcia, 826 F.2d at 812. We are bound by that law.

    The district court properly granted judgment in favor of the police on the wrongful death claim. A shooting which is justified under the Arizona criminal code cannot serve as the basis for civil liability.


    We next address the civil rights claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs argue that the Arizona police officers, in failing to knock and announce their presence and wait for a response before entering the trailer home to execute the arrest warrant, knowingly violated George Tracas’ rights under the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, plaintiffs claim qualified immunity protection is not warranted in this case.

    The Supreme Court has ruled that whether a law enforcement officer can claim qualified immunity from liability for alleged constitutional violations depends on whether a reasonable officer could have believed his actions were lawful in light of clearly established law and the information the officer possessed. Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 641 (1987). The standard is one of objective legal reasonableness. A court must ask whether the official “acted reasonably under settled law in the circumstances, not whether another reasonable, or more reasonable, interpretation of the events can be constructed … years after the fact.” Hunter v. Bryant, 502 U.S. 224, 228 (1991).

    The law governing the challenged police conduct in this case was clearly established at the time of the conduct in question. Police officers have a duty under the Fourth Amendment to knock and announce their presence and wait for a refusal of entry before entering a home to execute an arrest warrant unless exigent circumstances are present excusing compliance. Wilson v. Arkansas, 514 U.S. 927, 934 (1995). Exigent circumstances exist, excusing compliance, where, based on specific known facts, the police officers reasonably fear that compliance with the formal knock-notice requirements will endanger their lives. United States v. McConney, 728 F.2d 1195, 1206 (9th Cir.1984); United States v. McShane, 462 F.2d 5, 6 (9th Cir.1972).

    The district court determined that an officer in the same position as the Arizona SWAT team officers could have reasonably believed that compliance with the formal knock-notice requirements would have placed his life in danger, and that exigent circumstances existed warranting a forced, no-refusal entry. The district court’s conclusion was consistent with this Court’s decisions on similar facts. See U.S. v. Turner, 926 F.2d 883, 887 (9th Cir.1991); McConney, 728 F.2d at 1206; McShane, 462 F.2d at 6. The district court properly granted the police officers qualified immunity on the § 1983 claim as a matter of law.


    This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3

  86. #86 |  Fascist Killers Suck | 

    These cops are nothing but cold-blooded killers. They do not serve justice. Evidently, blowing up a person in his home in front of their child is one of perks of being a legal killer. What disgusting people. What a disgusting state.

    This is what fascism is. Racist. Bloodthirsty. Unjust. Depraved.

    May these killers rot in hell.

  87. #87 |  CasualPasserBy | 

    Interesting incongruity to the statements provided….

    If you read the statement it says that they were on the PA when the wife was on the phone with 911, and that she even came to the door with the phone in her had, but, if you listen to the 911 recordings, and hear the PA traffic referred to, you have better ears than I…..

  88. #88 |  John | 

    Note that there is eight ( 8 ) seconds between the door breach and the shooting starting………..

    These guys are trigger happy idiots.

  89. #89 |  CasualPasserBy | 

    How can what their lawyer say be true when the entire video, which starts with them getting out of their vehicles, to well after he’s dead, only lasts 54 seconds? They didn’t wait “45 seconds to one minute” for someone to open the door, they knocked once, and then went in immediately.

    Immediately the entry team exits the vehicles and approaches the house. What happens is, they stop the sirens,so that the verbal commands can be heard. The breach team approaches the front door. And immediately, one of the operators immediately, as he is running up on the residence, is yelling in Spanish and English, alternating commands, “Police! Police! Police!” — identifying themselves and to open the door. He makes multiple commands of this sort. He then approaches the door with the team, and bangs on the door. He doesn’t knock, he bangs with his fists very hard on the door, several times. After banging, he then calls again, “Police!” in Spanish, “Police!” in English. They wait. He bangs again on the door, hard, with his fist, banging on this door. And this is not a large house. It’s a normal house, where this would be heard. There’s no music playing in the house, no loud TV, nothing that would indicate that people on the inside would not be hearing this banging and the commands. So he’s banging on the door again, “Police! Police!” Banging on the door a second time. Gives a third set of commands. They wait. They wait at least 45 seconds to a minute, while this banging is going on, and the commands are going on, for a response. There is no response. The breach order is then given.

  90. #90 |  JamesM | 

    I assume the team lead was wearing a helmet cam. Releasing one from someone who is NOT in the entry team and NOT releasing the one from the team lead looks a lot like SPIN by the police department.

    If they thought the man was armed, and there were women and children in the house, then the approprate thing would be hostage negotiators, not a full on military assault.

    The man they startled, was a 26 year old, a former Marine who served in Iraq, twice.

    A) He is legally allowed to own a gun and hold a gun.

    B) The police department should have known that an aggressive assault, which appears to have been started by throwing in a stun grenade, would set a trained military man into defensive mode, and may easily trigger post traumatic stress reaction.

    C) If the police did see the man with the gun they did not have the good sense to back off. This is what happens when you teach police military breach techniques and not good police work.

    D) Someone got trigger happy and the rest piled on in. No fire discipline at all.

    If you point a gun at a solder his instinctive reaction is to point one back. The difference is the solder had his safety catch ON and did not shoot. Maybe this is the difference between good training and bad.

    It was an unfortunate incident, but will the state have the balls to say they erred and needlessly shot a man in his own home? Will the state pay the widow? I doubt it.

    The justification will be, we thought he was a bad man and therefore summary execution in his own home is his punishment for having a gun in his hands when we burst in.

    There is no question this was a military style breach, with an entry team in full body armor and weapons on hot. The question is should this be allowed by law? They had the place surrounded. The worst that could happen is the man flushes the weed down the toilet. Is a military beach necessary, with the inherent risk of loss of life, just to prevent possible destruction of evidence?

  91. #91 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    #80 | CasualPasserBy | May 27th, 2011 at 3:05 pm :

    “***Whats with the final round at second 51, 2 full seconds later, when people are talking? Was that a fucking coupedegrace?!?***”

    Wow. Good Catch. I feel sick now.

  92. #92 |  Zee | 

    Looks like people need to change out their screendoors for something stronger and have a plan. People have plans for everything else – fire, flood, earthquake, nuclear attack. Police raids happen a lot more often than those things. They’ll only stop when they start taking some losses. A search warrant does not mean you have to let them in. It means the government says it’s ok for them to try and get in. You still have the natural and inalienable right to self-defense. If it’s sufficiently risky, they’ll be more prudent about asking to do it.

  93. #93 |  Curt | 

    @ 80 and 91.

    The final rounds probably came when he realized he still had bullets in the gun. Can you imagine his embarrassment if he went back to his buddies and had to explain why he didn’t empty the mag?

  94. #94 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    Isn’t administering a coupdegrace after ceasefire was called a criminal act?

  95. #95 |  mario kenny | 

    Mexican/ Latino military family, living in AZ(of all places) served in Military, gunned down in his home with wife and kid[s] present in the house at the time.

    The wife and kid[s] should thank god that they are alive, it was a swat team`s mistake that they lived, but why did they err?, I mean how come they just did not kill everyone incl the pets,if any?, this is not something that they would not do, the police have done this in many instances and nothing comes of these instances.

    The police will drive the wife out of town fast[back to Mexico] and if she has no papers, faster, she will get nada, and they will lie all the way to the justice system, as is habitual, and expected, if they found no drugs and no money and no evidence, they will put some, they are the law and thus are able to makeup whatever they want to say, to save their butts, as is the norm and accepted by the majority.

    First he had a gun, then he fired it at police, the shields were riddled with bullets, then he did not fire his gun, the safety clip was on, then he had just gotten home from work and was asleep, then he was bent down pointing the gun at police, [YAWN makes me tired].

    Nothing will come of this, he is just a Mexican and lives in AZ and I call that not such a good thing to do and be.

    You know that the paramedics were not allowed in to help the victim right?, after all it was too dangerous, I mean there are guns in the house and its a swat team outside and they did the killing, and the victim would better off be dead anyways, and the victim is Mexican or some unwanted useless race like that.


  96. #96 |  Joe | 

    So if the sheriff had probable cause for this, where is the evidence of him being a dangerous home invader?

  97. #97 |  Sean | 

    “Oh – does anyone know of any cases where stray police rounds hurt or killed anyone? With all these puppycide cases and now this, it’s just a matter of time before a bullet goes through a wall or floor and kills someone in another room, maybe in another apartment or house.”

    There have been several cases in the past year or two where bystanders have been injured in cases where cops were shooting at dogs. At least four times that I can think of. One was an incident where a female cop saw a pit bull jumping up on someone (playfully) and she assumed it was attacking and started firing away, injuring a couple of bystanders (and missing the dog). And in another case a child was hit by fragments from bullets being shot at a dog. It’s just a matter of time before somebody (other than a dog) gets killed over this sort of thing …

  98. #98 |  Peter Paul | 

    It was premeditated murder, plain and simple. And they must pay. Every single one of them. One way or the other.


  99. #99 |  USMC_vet | 

    The Military-Industrial complex is beginning to eat it’s own tail. This is the price we pay for giving men guns and telling them they are doing Gods work.

    Once upon a time the sugar-plantation owners on Hawaii had a problem with rats eating their crops. So they imported weasels to control the rats. Now they have a problem with both rats and weasels.

  100. #100 |  Justthisguy | 

    Ok, guys and gals, kwitcherbitchin, and take action. Surely there are some 1337 people out there with the Mad Skilz to dig up the names of these pigs, and pix of their faces.

    I’m not suggesting violence, just what the $cientologists call “disconnecting” or what the Amish call “shunning.” Have pix of those guys posted in every grocery story, gas station, restaurant, etc. Have them sit down at a table and have no waiter show up. Have them park by the gas pump and not have it turned on. Have the cashier at the grocery store ignore them, push their food off the belt onto the floor, and deal with the person standing behind them.

  101. #101 |  Chuck | 

    Militarized policing all the way, just like this says…


    […] Agitator from Radney Balko on May 27th, 2011, regarding the SWAT raid. A link to the SWAT raid tape is available. Read the comments on both referenced […]

  103. #103 |  Nathan | 

    This is a police execution reminiscent of one we witnessed in our community years ago. Our highly incompetent local law enforcement officers targeted and raided the wrong house based on an anonymous informants tip. In fact, the man they were looking for had moved from that address several years prior. The home was now owned by a 24 year old nurse at a local hospital. He had just pulled a double shift at the hospital, driven home and gone to bed. An hour or so after he was asleep, the Gestapo smashed in his front door and proceeded to shoot him to death as he staggered still half asleep to answer the door. No big deal to these thugs, They lied about everything from the start. A casual search of the local phone directory would have shown they had the wrong address but these lazy ass idiots were too busy to be bothered with checking a phone book. At the trial, the police lied and claimed that the sun was coming through a window across the room blinding them and they thought he was reaching for a gun (he was unarmed). An astronomy professor from the University of Louisville testified that the location of the house and the window in question made it physically impossible for the sun to ever come through that window no matter what time of day or year. Stupid officers couldn’t even get their lie straight. This story is played out all over this once great country every day. You thought you were free and then one day you woke up in a police state. You can only hope the same thing will eventually happen to members of their immediate families. Only then will these idiots get it.

  104. #104 |  kurt | 

    their cops,they think they are better then anyone else,people dont you realise that we pay their salary,and that you voted people into office that hire these yahoos,if you get rid of all the over paid crooks you put there and got real people to run things and watch out for your rights and not give the cops the right to break in and kill us i think we could have a better run government.