Widow sues over fatal SWAT raid

2011-11-02T00:00:00Z 2012-06-11T09:33:14Z Widow sues over fatal SWAT raidJamar Younger, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 02, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The widow of a man who was killed during a SWAT team raid in May has filed a lawsuit against Pima County and the SWAT team officers who killed her husband.

The lawsuit also lists the towns of Marana, Sahuarita and Oro Valley, as defendants in the lawsuit, which says negligence and gross negligence led to the death of Jose Guerena, 26.

Vanessa Guerena's attorney filed the lawsuit Monday in Superior Court, saying the defendants had 20 days to respond before taking the case to trial.

The lawsuit did not identify the amount of money she is suing for, but Guerena's attorney, Christopher Scileppi, said they'll let a jury determine how much money should be awarded.

"We will ask the members of Pima County, through the jury members, to determine what is fair and reasonable," Scileppi said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Guerena's attorney filed a $20 million claim against the county and other law-enforcement agencies In August, but those agencies never responded, prompting the lawsuit.

On May 5, the Pima County Regional SWAT team raided four houses looking for items they believed could be linked to drug trafficking and home invasions, search warrants show. When the SWAT team knocked open the door at the Guerena home, officers said Jose Guerena was at the end of a hallway holding an AR-15 rifle. Five officers from the Sheriff's Department and the Oro Valley, Sahuarita and Marana police departments fired 71 shots, striking him 22 times, Sheriff's Department records show.

The lawsuit says the SWAT team acted negligently throughout the whole process, from the time the detective signed the search warrant to after the shooting, when officers waited more than a hour to give Jose Guerena medical treatment.

The lawsuit claims the detective who signed the warrant was negligent by misrepresenting facts that were crucial to showing there was probable cause for the raid.

It also claims the SWAT team was negligent in the planning and execution of the raid, and when they fired at Guerena's home.

The Pima County Attorney's Office cleared the officers of any wrongdoing in June, but Guerena and her attorney said the investigation was biased because of the office's relationship with the Sheriff's Department.

The county attorney's investigation did not address the officers' negligence, Scileppi said Tuesday.

"The only issue the county attorney dealt with was exonerating them from criminal liability," he said.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department would not comment, citing the advice of its attorney.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4115.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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