This update, originally run on September 27, 2011 at Confederate Yankee (now inactive for all but archival access) dealt with analysis of the most recent public comments on the case by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. I also began a two-part expose of the statement of Pima Co. Sgt. Bob Krygier, the on-scene SWAT tactical commander at the Guerena Raid.
As always, those interested in reading the comments accompanying the original posts should visit the Confederate Yankee Jose Guerena archive.
09-27-11: The Guerena Case, Analysis 5
Since the last update (#4) posted on… there have been relatively few sensational developments. Those seeking the first four articles should visit the Jose Guerena Case archive.
In addition, a PDF of the police interview of Sgt. Krygier, the Pima County SWAT team supervisor involved in the Guerena assault is available here.
It has been my goal in this series to provide far more in-depth analysis than has been done elsewhere on the Net or in the traditional media. This is the first of a two-part update which will hopefully provide greater insight into Jose Guerena’s death.
An Arizona Star article of August 5th noted that three (now four+) months after Jose Guerena’s May 5th death, there have been no arrests related to the “mid-level drug ring” to which Sheriff Dupnik and his public relations officers claimed Guerena belonged after his death at the hands of Dupnik’s SWAT team. No drugs, illegal items, or anything remotely related to crime was found in Guerena’s home, however, according to Pima County authorities,
…stolen cars, drugs, cash and weapons were found in another one of the four houses raided that May 5 morning…
Sheriff Dupnik told the AZ Star that no arrests have been made because they are working on a “much bigger” homicide investigation. Dupnik said:
We could go out and make some arrests today, and we could’ve made some arrests some time ago, but we have two different investigations going on and the homicide is a priority, and we don’t want to turn off the flow of certain information.
Regular readers will recall that Dupnik is referring to the March 2010 murders of Manuel and Cynthia Orozco. Cynthia was the daughter of Jose Celaya who owned one of the homes searched by Pima Co. on May 5, 2010 (the day Jose Guerena was killed by the Pima County SWAT team). Sheriff Dupnik has suggested that Jose was, in some vague way, involved in the deaths of Manuel and Cynthia and has claimed that he was the “enforcer” for the drug ring involving several of his relatives. Dupnik is apparently still claiming that some of the people whose homes were searched are in some unspecified way still tied to the killings. Dupnik told the AZ Star:
This is extremely complicated and we need to be extremely careful about how we deal with certain issues. The drug case is very complicated because there are so many people involved.
The AZ Star also noted this claim by Sheriff Dupnik:
For now detectives will continue working on the homicide case. It could take thousands more hours’ work before any arrests are made.
It is unusual for there to be no arrests of any kind in a drug case brought to a conclusion by the service of search warrants, particularly warrants of multiple properties and vehicles. However, virtually everything about the behavior of the police that caused Jose Guerena’s death was unusual, to say the least. Consider:
(1) Despite keeping members of Jose’s family under surveillance for many months, the police admitted in their affidavit for a search warrant that they had never seen any of them in possession of drugs, nor had they so much as seen anyone they suspected of involvement in a “mid-level drug ring” smoking a joint. The strongest “evidence” listed in the affidavit relating to Jose was nine months earlier he was a passenger in a pickup truck that was carrying a cardboard box containing a small amount of plastic wrap. They noted that people involved in drugs sometimes use plastic wrap. This is no evidence at all; it’s not even probable cause. People involved in the drug trade sometimes use cardboard boxes too. The police had suspicions but no probable cause and no actual evidence. None.
(2) Despite being full of factual errors and contradictions, despite listing no actual probable cause to believe that a given person had committed a specific crime and that specific evidence of such crimes could be found at a specific place as required by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, a judge issued a warrant authorizing a massive fishing expedition. He would, shortly after the death of Jose, seal the affidavit, the warrant and return (more on this in upcoming, new updates).
(3) From what is currently known, it appears that the police found a little potential evidence of crime, which included a small, unspecified amount of marijuana, at only one of the four homes they searched on May 5. These are surprisingly unproductive results for multiple raids on those supposedly involved in a criminal enterprise of the size and scope Sheriff Dupnik continues to claim. If marijuana or other drugs of any significant quantity had been found, there is little doubt that the police would have publicized photos of their seizure, or at the very least listed quantities. That they have not suggests that the amount they found was so small as to be embarrassing.
(4) Police statements indicate that their surveillance of their suspects was an on-again, off-again affair, and was anything but comprehensive. In fact, Sheriff Dupnik said that they did not watch Jose Guerena’s home at all in the hours prior to serving the search warrant and killing him because they were afraid it would tip off those they were trying to catch. This is, to put it kindly, utter nonsense. Failing to watch a home about to be searched for drugs before making the search is the worst kind of incompetence. For the sake of safety alone, it is mandatory that officers know exactly what is going on at such homes. Is anyone home? If so, who? How many? Where are they? What are they doing? Is there any indication that they suspect something? Is the case blown? Are they destroying evidence? We’re not speaking of highly advanced SWAT techniques here, but of Basic Police Procedure 101. One need not be Sherlock Holmes to accomplish such a simple yet mandatory task.
(5) Search warrants are virtually never served in drug cases until the officers involved are ready to end the investigation, for once searches are done, anyone not immediately scooped up will make themselves scarce and bury any evidence of their relationship with those that have been arrested. Any evidence not seized by the police will immediately disappear. In drug cases, search warrants will not be contemplated until there is hard evidence of criminal involvement and the probability of seizing substantial quantities of drugs and related evidence. This will normally consist of controlled buys from dealers, information from informants who have actual access to the homes and vehicles of those involved in the drug trade, access that will produce information such as the kinds and amounts of drugs involved, the suspect’s methods of packaging and distributing them, storage places and methods of transporting the drugs, what kind of weapons—and their numbers–the police might potentially face, complete backgrounds on everyone involved, delivery routes and schedules, and a variety of other vital information. None of this was done in the Guerena case. The search warrant affidavit contained no such information. As a result, the police found little or nothing for approximately a year of effort involving countless (and unspecified) man-hours of police labor.
(6) The affidavit did not focus on Jose, nor did it suggest that he was in any way violent or dangerous. The police did not indicate that they feared they would be facing violent resistance, and they did not ask for a no-knock warrant which would be standard operating procedure if they feared potential violence or the probability that drug suspects would be trying to destroy evidence. In fact, Sheriff Dupnik indicated that they knew that Jose would probably be there and that his wife and perhaps some of their children would be present too. The police knew that Jose worked in a copper mine. Surely they knew his shift and work schedule, and therefore that he would probably be in bed when they conducted the search. If they didn’t know these things, this would be yet another indicator of gross incompetence, for there is no evidence—certainly none contained in the affidavit—that indicates that Jose was anything other than a working man who kept reliable hours and who practiced an easily observed routine. How hard would it be for the police to determine the usual work schedule and habits of any citizen holding down a full time job with unchanging hours?
I suggested in Update 4 that it was possible that Sheriff Dupnik would claim that Jose Guerena was the killer in the Orozco case, despite the fact that there appears to be no known evidence of his involvement in this, or any other crime despite the best efforts of Dupnik’s agency to pin something on him. It was only after his death under a hail of 71 police bullets that the police began to paint Jose as a highly dangerous drug ring enforcer and a murder suspect. Bizarrely, Sheriff Dupnik simultaneously painted Jose as a man who provoked his own death, claiming that the only reason Jose did not fire on the clueless SWAT operators that raided his home was because he was unable to manipulate the safety of his AR-15. Dupnik also claimed that Jose must have believed that the police were raiding his home to arrest him for murder, yet Jose did not fire on the police he supposedly armed himself to resist. He didn’t even release the safety of his rifle.
Suggesting that a Marine veteran of two combat tours would be unable to manipulate the safety of an AR-15 reveals an extraordinary lack of intellect on the part of Sheriff Dupnik, and likely an extraordinary amount of arrogance and disdain for the intelligence of the public.
What is most likely is that the police have no real evidence of any crimes. If they did, in fact, find a ledger of sorts with names and amounts near them, this could conceivably be suggestive of drug involvement, yet according to their own statements, they found none of the other kinds of materials, equipment or substances associated with the drug trade, and found only a small—unspecified–amount of marijuana. Such ledgers are used for a very wide variety of legitimate pursuits. They claim to have found a stolen vehicle—one vehicle, not “vehicles” as Sheriff Dupnik has claimed–yet no one has been charged and no information on the vehicle has apparently been released. Did they actually find a stolen vehicle? Has it been returned to its owner? Is there any evidence to link anyone involved in this case with the “theft?” They claim to have found “more than 30” cell phones, but there is no information on them. How many were new and functional? Were some old, inactive phones? Were some prepackaged “burner” phones? Without such information, it’s impossible to say that the fact that they were found—if they were found—is an indicator of potential criminal activity. They claim to have found $100,000 in cash (the number has been revised downward several times already), which might seem damning, but many people keep large amounts of cash on hand for a wide variety of perfectly legitimate reasons.
I do not ask these questions merely to throw suspicion on the police, but because they have had to backtrack on a wide variety of claims in this case and because they have made confusing and contradictory statements. They initially claimed that Jose fired on them first, provoking their panicky fusillade, but had to admit he never took his rifle off safe. They claimed that he had parts of police uniforms, but eventually had to admit that those parts of police uniforms were nothing more than one, possibly two pieces of unspecified body armor (likely Jose’s Marine issue) and a hat with a Border Patrol logo. All of these items are not only not parts of police uniforms, but are perfectly legal and widely available. In fact, Jose had recently applied for a job with the Border Patrol. They made a great deal of finding three or four firearms in Jose’s home, but there is no evidence that any of them were illegally possessed or ever used in any crime [NOTE: months later they would vaguely claim that one of those weapons was reported stolen years earlier]. In addition tens of millions of Americans own far more firearms. They claimed that evidence indicates that Jose had to have been pointing his rifle at the SWAT team, yet it is impossible to know this from bullet or shrapnel damage to the rifle, particularly considering the volume of fire directed at Jose and its wildly inaccurate character (slashing Jose and his home from ceiling to floor).
Please remember that search warrants are simply not done in drug cases unless the police are sure they’re going to interdict a substantial quantity of drugs, produce substantial related evidence and catch a substantial quantity of criminals, yet this case has yielded virtually nothing except the brutal death of an innocent man. Surely this is very embarrassing to the police—assuming they are capable of embarrassment. Sheriff Dupnik would obviously appear to be immune.
What would comprise a mid-level drug ring in Tucson, AZ? Wouldn’t more than a handful of relatives and a small amount of marijuana have to be involved in such a significant criminal enterprise? Actual evidence of drug trafficking would not be hard to find, would it? Wouldn’t such a “drug ring” be routinely handling bales of marijuana and pounds of other drugs? The criminals involved would have lengthy records, particularly records relating to the drug trade, wouldn’t they? There would be substantial evidence of contact with other known drug criminals, yet none of that is the case here, or at the very least the police are not making such claims.
Enough is currently known to draw reasonable conclusions and to suggest a theory of this case, but I’ll return to that theory at the end of this article. I turn now to another, very interesting and disturbing facet of this case: Officer statements.
THE SWAT SUPERVISOR SPEAKS:
On May 5 at about 1244, Sgt. Bob Krygier was interviewed by Detectives Farmer and Tzystuck of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Krygier was the SWAT team supervisor of the Guerena assault. This interview was conducted less than four hours after the assault on Jose Guerena’s home.
In Update 4 I included Sheriff Dupnik’s comments about the SWAT team:
But as far as the other criticisms, let me tell you that Pima County has a nationally-recognized SWAT team. As a matter of fact, one of our commanders goes all over the country instructing other organizations on SWAT techniques and protocol. We have one that’s known internationally, Dr. Richard Carmona, who goes all over the world talking about SWAT. In my judgment, we have a premiere SWAT organization, and at this point I don’t see any need to — This was an unfortunate situation that was provoked by the person himself.
The videotape of the assault, and Sgt. Krygier’s 12 page interview transcript do not support the sheriff’s assertions of professional competence and national preeminence. In fact, it stops rather abruptly, and for a rather obvious reason.
The transcript is as remarkable for what Sgt. Krygier says as for what he does not say. Despite being the supervisor on scene, no more than 25 feet from the door of the Guerena home, he claims to know virtually nothing about what happened. His statement provides even more evidence that the SWAT team had no idea what they were doing that morning. Their level of confusion and misunderstanding is truly remarkable. At one point, they claim to have mistaken Vanessa Guerena’s call for help to be a neighbor telling them that someone in a nearby house was shot–almost certainly by the SWAt team, though Krygier doesn’t specify this–leading them to break into several nearby homes before they realized that it was Vanessa trying to tell them that Jose had been shot—by them—and that he needed help.
I’ll provide the substance and quotations from the transcript prefaced by KT–Krygier Transcript–interspersed with my comments beginning with the initials MA–My Analysis.
KT: Sgt. Krygier explains that he was the supervisor of the assault, but that he put Officer Jake Shumate of the Marana Police in functional command, saying “I kind of guided him through it so it was more of a mentoring thing…” Apparently Krygier and Shumate wrote the plan for the assault.
Krygier explains that he was briefed for the assault by detectives on Tuesday, two days before the assault. He said he and others “did a scout of [Guerena’s] the house” on Tuesday. Krygier said he was told—presumably by a Detective Hess—that Guerena (he referred to Jose only as “the bad guy” or “the suspect” throughout the transcript) was directly involved with drug cartels and running drugs, and was “…associated with a homicide where a husband wife got killed and the daughter called, uh, for help.”
Krygier said Jose was also
associated with three other properties that we were also serving warrants on today, uh, as well as, if not actively taking part in hiring out to do rip crews, uh, to steal other people’s marijuana and perform home invasions, so that was kind of the tactical background on it.
Krygier also said that officers driving by the Guerena home were followed and that a vehicle registration inquiry was somehow done on the truck of one of the officers. Krygier characterized this as
…bad guys who are, know what they’re doing and obviously, uh, you know, alert of what was going on around ’em.
MA: It is difficult to know if Krygier was actually given that information on Tuesday, two days before the assault, or was filled in after the shooting of Jose and before his interview. If his statement can be taken at face value, how can the police explain the complete lack of such information in the search warrant affidavit? The affidavit, as I mentioned earlier, contains nothing more damning about Jose than the assertion that he was a passenger in a vehicle carrying plastic wrap some nine months earlier. No one in, or associated with, that vehicle was doing anything illegal.
If Sgt. Krygier is to be believed, the police believed Jose was associated with drug cartels, was conducting home invasions, robbing other drug criminals at gunpoint, involved in a double murder, and was essentially a killer for hire, yet the police mention none of this in the affidavit, do not request a no-knock warrant and do not bother to so much as casually drive by the home the morning of the assault to see what is happening there to ensure their relative safety. In fact, the sum total of preparations for meeting such a desperado seem to have been nothing more than a casual “scout”—likely a fast drive by—of Guerena’s home several days before the raid.
Even the most casual viewing of the 54 second police video of the assault on the Guerena home would not lead one to believe that the SWAT team expected to encounter such a highly active and dangerous criminal.
KT: Sgt. Krygier reviewed the tactical plan with Lt. Stuckey, the commander for “the mission” as he terms it, at app. 0730 May 5. Lt. Stuckey approved the plan and Krygier briefed the team at about 0800. He takes pains to say that he took along detectives to ensure they had the right house, “…where the main bad guy is.” He said:
And, and and we had even briefed that in our plan, that if something were going to happen, it was probably going to happen at Red Water [Guerena’s home].
MA: Krygier says nothing about intelligence relating to the residents of the Guerena residence. Sheriff Dupnik claims reasonably specific knowledge about the residents, their habits and who was home that morning, but Sgt. Krygier says nothing at all about it.
KT: Krygier was driving an armored vehicle, apparently the vehicle from which the videotape was taken. He parked behind Guerena’s SUV which was parked in the driveway, blocking it in. He said that most of the entry team had been standing on the “skids” of the armored vehicle so they could rapidly approach the door, and also suggested that others were getting out of the vehicle as he turned on overhead lights, and another officer turned on the siren while officers were approaching the door. Krygier says that as he got out of the armored vehicle, he had to tell an officer to turn off the siren [such command is not audible on the videotape of the raid]:
As I got out of the, uh, the bear cat, uh, Almaraz, I think left the siren going to long, ’cause we don’t wanna keep it going, because obviously then we can’t hear. So I breached, I said, hey, turn that off, so he turned it off.
MA: On one hand, the officers are standing on what are apparently running boards of the armored vehicle so they can rush the door, yet they don’t have a no-knock warrant, so any rush to the door will, of necessity, be a “hurry up and wait” maneuver. They also used overhead lights and siren, but didn’t want to leave the siren on long—it was activated only about 9 seconds with a brief interruption, perhaps when Krygier was telling the officer to shut it off—and apparently didn’t realize that people inside a home, particularly if sleeping with all of the blinds shut, couldn’t see the overhead lights operating in bright daylight—the lights were operating in front of the garage, not near any window–and couldn’t hear the siren either. Remember that the video camera also recorded music playing in the armored vehicle. Sgt. Krygier does not—this is not surprising—mention this indicator of something less than utter concentration on the mission by one of America’s premier SWAT organizations.
KT: Krygier approaches the door where he says officers are knocking and identifying themselves in English and Spanish. Within seconds of his approach to the front door, Off. Shumate gives the command to break in the door. He said:
Um, no one had, no one had, uh, submitted to our authority, no one came to the front door, nobody opened it, there, there was no reply from inside.
Krygier does not know who broke in the door, and he hung back, apparently around the front of the garage. He said that about 2-3 seconds after the door was broken in he began hearing gunfire.
MA: The videotape indicates that from the first knocking on the door until the door is broken open, only seven seconds elapse. Particularly in a home where the residents may be sleeping, and where there could be a language issue—as illustrated by the Police use of English and Spanish—this is surely insufficient time for anyone to respond to the door even if they heard knocking.
KT: Krygier heard someone say “grab Hector.” Krygier identifies “Hector” as the officer handling the shield and says that he fell down, but does not explain how or why that happened. He says:
So, uh, and there was a lot of gunfire going on. I, I couldn’t estimate the numbers, but know-, knowing how many people were there, probably 80, 100 rounds were fired. I can’t say how many the bad guy fired, um, at us. So we immediately retreated back to armor once we, uh, made sure everyone was okay. I came on the radio and advised, uh, that shots had been fired. We got back to the, the bear cat kind of tried to, tried to calm things down. Obviously, there was a lot of, uh, tension going on at that point. The adrenaline was pumping.
Krygier notes that he had never actually seen inside the residence to this point.
MA: The videotape, and earlier statements, including those of Krygier, indicate that the officers emptied their magazines—Hector’s handgun was reported to have malfunctioned after firing an unknown number of rounds–which brought all shooting to an abrupt stop. There was a two second pause, and an unidentified officer fired a final shot. The reason for that disconnected round, and what–if anything–it struck, remains unknown. The officers did not immediately return to cover, but stood there, stuck in the doorway of the home, apparently having no idea what to do. At some point after the video ended, they eventually abandoned the assault entirely and retreated to cover—if Sgt. Krygier can be believed, they had shot their weapons empty in panic—but while the video was rolling, no attempt to reload, regroup, assault, or do anything but stand still in dumbfounded shock is visible.
KT: Krygier notes that at this point, Lt. Stuckey arrived and he was informed that:
…they saw a male figure down in the hallways, they, you know, into the house with a gun and he was shooting at us. Um, they obviously said they fired, they said they don’t know what happened, because there was a lot of smoke and they couldn’t really see through it after the, the shooting, but the shooting had stopped, so that’s when we retreated.
MA: As I noted in my initial post on this case which analyzed the video, from the first to the last shot, only ten seconds elapse. I can see three officers shooting from outside the home through the doorway and believe another was just inside the doorway inside the home shooting as well. The police have identified five shooters. Remember that the Guerena home was completely dark inside and had dark gray walls, all of which would be expected for people who sleep during the day. However, coming out of bright sunlight, the officer’s vision would surely have been compromised. It’s unlikely they saw more of Guerena than a dim silhouette, if they saw that much.
Modern gunpowder is known as “smokeless powder,” but this is not entirely accurate. Gunfire does produce smoke from gunpowder that is not completely burned when a cartridge is fired. With the volume of fire blasted into the home in a very small area, and considering the dark interior, it’s not at all hard to believe that they officers found their bolts and slides locking back, their weapons empty, in the midst of a thick cloud of smoke that completely obscured what little vision they had. This is not visible on the video because of the lack of depth and contrast due to the bright sunlight, the dark interior of the home, many officers constantly moving back and forth between the camera and home, and the fact that the camera was apparently shooting through auto glass. Again, the officers do not immediately retreat. They stand essentially motionless for at least four seconds—an eternity in a fire fight–the amount of time the camera continues to record after the final shot is fired. Krygier does not specify how much time after that was required for them to finally decide to retreat, abandoning the assault that never was.
NOTE: At no time during the transcript does Sgt. Krygier say why the officers fired except the vague, second hand assertion that Guerena fired at them. It is not clear exactly when they learned that he did not fire a shot, but anyone with the kind of knowledge of firearms one would expect of, according to Sheriff Dupnik, one of the finest SWAT teams in the nation, would be able to tell in very short order that Guerena’s weapon was on safe and unfired. Until it is known with certainty precisely when it was determined that Guerena had not fired and by who, Sgt. Krygier’s statements should not be assumed to be the last word.
The vague nature of this transcript is remarkable in that officers involved in shootings are commonly anxious to get on the record their justification for shooting, particularly if they believe the shooting to be fully justified. Are we to believe that the SWAT supervisor, the co-planner of the assault, the officer in charge on the scene, didn’t ask what happened? That he did not ask for specific, to-the-second details? That he had no specific idea why the officers unleashed such a highly unusual torrent of fire? Or is this volume of fire in what appears to have been—apart from the panicky and mostly innaccurate barrage at Jose Guerena–an unremarkable assault common for this team? If so, why isn’t this common knowledge?
KT: Krygier says he spent the next ten minutes or so on the armored vehicle’s PA system trying to get Vanessa to come out, finally directing officers to rush and grab her when she appeared at the door a second time. He says that she primarily speaks Spanish and relays:
She says that her husband has been shot. He’s inside. He, the last she saw he was breathing, but it was very, you know, labored and shallow. She also told us that a, uh, her four year old son was inside, in a back bedroom too scared to come out. So at this time, um, we’re concerned mostly, our primary concern was with the four year old.
He says Stuckey, Shumate and he make a “tactical plan” to “go rescue this kid.” However, he says that if the child wasn’t in the back bedroom where he was supposed to be, they would abandon him and not search further.
We weren’t gonna go through the house, ’cause we still have unknown threats. We don’t know if there’s there’s other people in there.
He notes that Vanessa told him of Jose and her four year old. As they are planning to enter, the four year old comes to the door and officers grab him. Krygier says:
So the plan then progresses. We’re uh, you know, gonna start treating this as a barricaded subject, um, ’cause there’s no known other victims or hostages inside. And, those plans start to go into, uh, into effect.
At this point, a decidedly odd exchange between the detectives conducting the interview and Krygier takes place:
Krygier: “Um, uh, how much further do you guys want me to go? Do you want me to…”
Farmer: ‘That’s fine.’
Tzystuck: ‘Yeah, and keep, you.’
Farmer: ‘You deployed the robot, right?’
Krygier: ‘Yeah, exactly. Uh, if you want me to talk about deploying the robot.’
MA: This passage reveals the complete lack of experience and common sense employed by the officers. They have Vanessa and she has told them who is in the home. They can see Jose and he’s obviously no threat. They must believe that as they have shown no concern whatever for his survival, either because their hasty retreat has intimidated them, because they care nothing for his survival, or because they believe him to be completely incapacitated or already dead. Even if they feared he might be feigning incapacitation, it would be a simple matter to properly cover and handcuff him while they completed a search. Yet they are going to “rescue” the child! Rescue from what threat? By seizing Vanessa, they have stranded him in his own home with his dying or dead father. They are the only people causing harm that morning. Seizing Vanessa, they suddenly decide they have a barricaded subject! No doubt Vanessa told them there was no one else there, or perhaps they didn’t think to ask, though even for a team as inept as this one, that’s hard to imagine.
Some 10-15 minutes (at least) have already passed from the last shot and no further hostilities have occurred. Because they have failed to clear the house, because instead of pressing the entry instead of running away in shock, their weapons empty due to their lack of situational awareness and tactical sense, they have surrendered every tactical advantage they ever had. If there were, in fact, other gunmen in the house, they could have regrouped and picked off officers from the windows–or the open front door–with ease. Krygier makes no mention of establishing a perimeter at any point in the transcript, so if others were present, they could have equally easily escaped. For whatever reason, incompetence, anger, or simply inexperience, Krygier has admitted that they have decided to deny Jose medical attention. They’re going to allow him to bleed out and die.
NOTE: At no point in the transcript does Krygier clearly state that a perimeter was established and maintained nor do the detectives ask–a remarkable state of affairs. In any such case, a perimeter is the first thing established, not only to prevent bad guys from escaping, but to keep innocents from blundering into a potentially dangerous zone, to prevent reinforcements or other aid to potential bad guys and to keep out the press.
At this point, the detectives prevent Krygier from going into greater detail about what happened and why they did not secure treatment for Jose by diverting him to the use of a robot, a change in direction Krygier seems only too happy to take.
KT: Krygier notes that he had, by this time, assumed command—sort of—but that Officer Shumate “…was doing a great job. Outstanding job.” He directs another officer who is operating a small robot and they find Jose and watch him for some (unspecified) time and see no respiration, so they run the robot into him and he does not respond.
At this point, Krygier makes an amazing admission. He says:
A little misinformation came out that, um, someone called from 71—and said they had been shot.
Only the number “71” appears. One or two numbers following it have been blacked out for unknown reasons. Krygier led a team to the house across the street in front of Jose’s home. Despite seeing no gunshot damage, they break in and find no one injured. Another team finally gets around to searching the home behind Jose’s house. This home has taken gunshot damage and they break in, but find no one. Krygier is not providing time frames, but it’s obvious all of this has taken some time. He eventually says that they finally realized that the caller was Vanessa who earlier called the police to get help for Jose. He says:
Um, so then we slow it down again.
The detectives ask if Krygier confirmed that “he is deceased inside the house…the suspect?” Krygier responds oddly indeed:
Without going in. And through the robot, uh, we have paramedics that were on scene. They saw whatever they saw, I, I won’t say what they saw, but what I saw was a man with a lot of blood, uh, not moving at all.
He adds that the officer/paramedic called the SWAT doctor, a Dr. Kastre, and
…she, uh, with whatever laws that she has was able to pronounce him dead.
MA: Krygier’s admission of running around the neighborhood breaking in doors is extraordinary. Clearly, these misadventures took valuable time, time for Jose to bleed out while denied medical care. There is no accounting for the time involved. Such an admission does not tend to make the police look terribly competent, but admitting incompetence to divert attention from something far worse—a conscious decision to allow a wounded man to bleed to death—is immoral and disgusting. What is also unusual is a physician making a pronouncement of death, at a distance and without having actually examined the patient. In all my of police experience, I have never heard of such a thing.
It is possible that Jose was allowed to bleed out simply as a result of the timidity and incompetence of the SWAT commanders, including Officer Shumate who was doing an “outstanding job,” and Krygier. It’s hard to determine which alternative–incompetence or a conscious decision to allow Jose to die–is worse. Neither would have made the slightest difference to Jose.
The transcript spends considerable time, with much prompting by the Detectives, to deal with this issue, which would tend to indicate that they understood the sensitivity of their decision to deny care to Jose only scant hours after the assault and were already working to minimize attention to it.
KT: Kryger explains that they exercised extraordinary caution in finally clearing the house, assigning no less than two officers to keep Jose covered, despite having already had him declared dead from afar. He describes the gore surrounding Jose and says that he was sure he was dead. He claims that it took 20 minutes to clear an attic and ends that long statement with another extraordinary admission:
Um, since I’m not going to do a report, can I throw a few more things in that we saw?
MA: Police procedure requires all officers that actually have a role in a case to write their own separate report. The unique case report number is commonly assigned to the primary officer first assigned the call, and all others write supplementary reports using the same case number. For the man in charge of the assault to fail to write a report is an indication of a significant breach in normal procedure and is a very disturbing sign, which is commonly indicative of a cover up. Why else would the supervisory officer involved in a very serious case—and few are more serious than an officer-involved shooting, particularly one involving five officers from four law enforcement agencies firing at least 71 rounds (and missing most)–fail to file his own report?
The vague and non-specific nature of the transcript suggests the answer: mere hours after the assault, the police are already spinning, rigging reports and ensuring that discovery will be as difficult as possible. Police agencies should always take steps to protect themselves against unjust, unreasonable charges, but this is done by making sure that every detail is completely covered and that all procedural steps have been properly taken. The opposite appears to be happening here.
KT: Krygier tells the Detectives that he saw five separate guns in the Guerena home. He also tells them that he found something “…uh, uh, or appeared to be body armor” in a hallway closet that in the garage he found a large plastic storage container that was “…full of body armor.” He also mentioned finding a Border Patrol hat in the garage. He said:
So it, it appeared that he had, he was well armed, um, well armored, and, uh, you know, prepared for different types of things with the, uh, amount of body armor and weapons that we saw in there.
The Detectives ask if Jose was wearing body armor and Krygier tells them that he was wearing only boxer briefs.
MA: So a Marine combat veteran has a set of body armor in a plastic storage box in his garage, and he also owns five weapons, two of which were in a gun cabinet, and the others distributed in various places in his home, a home in Tucson, AZ, which has a high crime rate. I suspect that the body armor in the storage box was his military issue. Body armor is degraded by constant exposure to human sweat and body oils—particularly so in a desert environment–so police agencies and the military do not reissue used body armor for that and sanitary concerns. The police have not described this armor in particular, but it is entirely possible this was Jose’s military issue and that he took it home with him when he left active duty. Despite official military policy, this sort of thing is quite common for entirely commonsensical reasons. The police are clearly trying to make the legal possession of body armor and of no more than five firearms look somehow sinister.
Is it possible that a SWAT commander of one of American’s premier SWAT teams actually believes that someone that owns only a handful of common firearms and as little as one set of common body armor is “well armed…prepared for different types of things…”and is obviously, based on that alone, a dangerous criminal? Could he truly be that unaware of reality?
To this day, I have several pieces of body armor from my police service—stored in plastic containers in my garage. I also have “parts of police uniforms” including my old SWAT gear with nametags, etc. I have at least five guns in various places in my home, including in a gun cabinet. Perhaps I too would be an “enforcer” for a “mid-level drug gang” if I lived in Tucson. By Sgt. Krygier’s standard, I’ve little doubt millions of Americans qualify for that label.
NOTE: THE SECOND PART OF THIS REPRISED UPDATE, OWING TO LENGTH, WILL RUN ON Wednesday, February 1, 2012.