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Seventy-One Rounds in Tucson: The SWAT Shooting of Jose Guerena

She was obviously not sure that he was dead and constantly asked about him. She repeatedly asked why the police shot him. They lied to her: they told her she is not under arrest and will not have to go to court, but that the law requires her to answer their questions. They told her she cannot leave until she answers their questions. They told her they don't put people in a room and force them to answer, while they were doing exactly that.

Over and over, the police asked Vanessa about the presence of drugs or cash in the home, secret hiding places, if Jose -- or she -- was breaking the law. They were clearly trying to trick her into incriminating Jose or herself. Their desperation was as obvious as Vanessa's fear, confusion, and honesty. This transcript is not a fine hour for American law enforcement.

The police were doubtless asking these questions because the search of the Guerena home came up utterly empty. There were no drugs, no cash, no evidence of the kind of extravagant living one might expect from the enforcer of a "mid-level drug ring." Photographs of the interior of the Guerena home, shredded by police gunfire, gave two immediate impressions: (1) There was no evidence of conspicuous consumption. The Guerena home looks like what it is: the home of a young couple just starting in married life. (2) It's a miracle the police didn't kill Vanessa Guerena, her son, themselves, or neighbors.

The police initially claimed to have found police uniforms in the home, but later revised that to portions of a police uniform, later revising that to a baseball cap with a "Border Patrol" logo. Vanessa told the police that Jose was applying to become a Border Patrol agent. Such hats are freely available to the public.

The police also claimed to have found bullet-resistant vests, first in a closet and in a closed plastic storage box in the garage, but eventually released photos only of what appears to be a military issue, desert tan vest which may have been Jose's issued vest in the Marine Corps.

They also announced that they found a checkbook, bank statements, a debit card, a .38 caliber handgun, other common items, and several other firearms. None of these are illegal and there is no evidence any were used in the commission of any crime.

From that day, police spokesmen and Sheriff Dupnik have painted Jose Guerena as the enforcer of a gang described as anything from a "mid-level" to a "large" drug organization. He is said to have been involved in the armed home-invasion robberies of other drug criminals, to be a killer for hire, to be a member of "the cartel," to have been involved in human smuggling, and to have been involved in a double homicide. There is no known evidence to support any of these contentions. The double homicide was that of Manuel and Cynthia Orozco, who were apparently in some way related to the wife of Jose's brother Alejandro. It remains unsolved, but Jose must present a tempting means of solving a difficult case. He fits the manufactured narrative, and he certainly can't prove that he did not commit the crime.