People seeking to defend the manifestly indefensible often sabotage themselves by disclosing critical details that undermine their argument. Mike Storie, thepolice union lawyer representing the SWAT operators who murdered Jose Guerena in his home on May 5, did this during his May 19 press conference in an attempt to assign all of the blame for Jose’s death on the victim and his terrorized wife.
As reported by the Arizona Star, Storie insisted that if the Guerena family had permitted the armed intruders into their home, those inside “probably … wouldn’t have been arrested.” This is because the “warrant was not directed at any particular person, and Guerena’s home was not mentioned, but it was targeting whoever might be inside the residence….”
That is to say that this was not a legitimate search warrant, under the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment (and expressly incorporated in Arizona law through the state constitution). The instrument used as supposed justification for the armed assault was akin to the “writs of assistance” used by British soldiers during the years leading up to the American colonial rebellion.
As Judge Andrew Napolitano summarizes, writs of assistance were “self-written search warrants” that “enabled [British] soldiers and government agents to enter any private building or dwelling and search for whatever they had authorized themselves to search for.” In this way, occupation forces could invade any home or business they chose, confiscate any item they suspected might be contraband, and haul away in irons anybody who attracted their malevolent attention.
The only material difference I can identify between that tyrannical practice and SWAT raids of the kind that resulted in the murder of Jose Guerena is the fact that British Redcoats were considerably more restrained in their behavior.
Writs of assistance wereconspicuous among the grievances that led the colonial Patriots to rebel against the British government, and they were the direct inspiration for the Fourth Amendment, a provision that as of May 16 isde jure dead letter in the American Imperium.
On that date, two rulings were announced — one by theIndiana State Supreme Court,the other by the U.S. Supreme Court — that formally vitiated constitutional impediments to warrantless intrusions by police.
Those rulings simply formalized the state of affairs that has long existed in the United States; after all, owing the fraudulent, murderous enterprise called the “war on drugs,” the Fourth Amendment has had no tangible relationship to public policy for decades. Nonetheless, that Amendment remains on the books as part of the “supreme law” — which means that the raid on the Guerena home was, in a literal, legally binding sense, a home invasion robbery.
Michael Storie is a living illustration of the fact that there is no “mob lawyer” more drenched in disrepute than a barrister who prostitutes himself in the service of a police union.
|“Who’s being evasive? I’m not being evasive! Why are you being evasive?”|
Storie is lead criminal attorney for the Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs (AZCOPS). Through no fault of his own, Storie somewhat resembles Nathan Thurm, a fictional corporate attorney played by Canadian comic genius Martin Short.
In his performance at the May 19 news conference, Storie did a pretty creditable impression of Thurm, capturing the same odd combination of oleaginous dishonesty and prickly passive aggression that Short brought to his character, who was paid extravagantly well to protect the powerful and corrupt.
While he has been employed by AZCOPS, no member of that union “has ever been convicted of crimes relating to on-duty conduct,” boast the organization. This isn’t strictly correct: Storie represented former DARE officer Ramon Fernando Borbon, who was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl while he was on-duty.
In the Borbon case, Storie employed a two-pronged defense strategy: He tried to depict the adult victim as a consenting party, and the child as a gold-digging opportunist. In other words: They were asking for it, and now they’re just interested in money. He’s using a variation on that approach in defending the SWAT team members who murdered Jose Guerena: It was all the victim’s fault, and his family is now simply “trying to make money” through a lawsuit.
The SWAT operators “had no choice but to shoot” after engineering a completely illegal raid, Thurm — er, Storie insisted. After all, Guerena was armed with an AR-15, and several officers “did report that they saw a muzzle flash from the shooter” — which means that their lives were in danger.
Well, actually, they didn’t see a muzzle flash, since — as the Sheriff’s Office has admitted — Guerena never removed the safety from his rifle. Ah, but he could have, you see, and since the omniscient heroes on the SWAT team “know that [the] walls [of the Guerena home] are stucco … if this man starts shooting his rounds, every neighbor in the vicinity is in danger, including possible innocent residents that are in the residence itself.”
So we’re told that waiting even a few seconds before opening fire was too risky; the only safe choice was for the SWAT team to unleash a 71-round barrage, since, as everyone knows, high-velocity rounds fired by sanctified personages in police uniforms possess a magical property that prevents them from endangering innocent people.
That magical property, incidentally, is “qualified immunity” — and it protects the only “innocent” people that police unions care about: Police officers who injure or kill Mundanes.
Within seconds of violating the Guerena home, the invaders had perforated Jose’s body with at least 60 gunshots. While Jose bled to death, his killers refused to allow paramedics to treat him. During that period the SWAT team actually inserted a remote-controlled robot — another pricey toy provided by the Pentagon’s LESO program — to clear the house. While Jose was dying on the floor, the SWAT team found “everything they [thought] they’re going to find in there,” Storie insisted.
What, exactly, were they looking for, and what did they find? After scraping away the layers of dissimulation applied by Storie, we arrive at this answer: They were looking for nothing in particular, and that’s exactly what they found.
They found no narcotics, no stash of suspected narcotics proceeds, no documentary or physical evidence of a crime of any kind. Neither Jose nor Vanessa has a criminal record.
Yet Storie, who appears congenitally incapable of decent shame, has left the air clotted with insinuation: He reports that handguns, rifles, body armor, and “part of a police uniform” were found in the Guerena household, along with a picture of Jesus Malverde, described as a “patron saint” of narcotics traffickers. In other words, in terms of actual criminal evidence, they found nothing.
Guerena, recall, is a former Marine who served two combat tours in Iraq, so the presence of body armor – as well as a small gun collection – would hardly be inexplicable. It’s quite likely that his gun collection was smaller than those of many other Arizona residents who never served in the military.
Apart from the fact that Jose himself was murdered in a home invasion conducted under the color of supposed State authority, there is another connection to a previous crime of that kind: Two of their relatives were murdered a year ago in ahome invasion of the non-government-approved variety.
That fact might well have colored Vanessa’s perceptions of what was happening with a government-licensed home invasion crew materialized outside her home, began to vandalize the house, and threatened her life and that of her baby. It’s also quite possible that the murder of a relative, coupled with combat experience in Iraq, played a large role in Jose’s perceptions and actions on that horrible morning.
During the same press conference Storie admitted that the SWAT team “had no specific information about what particular kids were in this house, or if there were any” before laying siege to a home containing a young mother and her four-year-old son — and a husband trying to get some sleep after pulling a long graveyard shift at a local mine. In other words, they knew nothing of any value about the home they attacked — yet Storie, Dupnik, and the murderers themselves all insist that the violent death of Jose Guerena was an entirely appropriate outcome, and that only irresponsible people would suspect otherwise.