Civil Liberties

Radley Balko Rides Again


Former Reasoner Radley Balko has his first article up at his new digs in The Huffington Post. It's an in-depth report on Jose Guerena's death by SWAT team, which Tim Cavanaugh blogged about here, here, and here. Radley adds many more details to the story, and his whole article is well worth reading; here's an excerpt:

In our next blow to 1970s TV-watchers, we will describe the case of a veteran shot in cold blood by a MASH unit.

Michael Storie, the attorney for the Arizona police union,…told the Arizona Daily Star that Guerena was "linked" to a "home-invasion crew," and that police found rifles, handguns, body armor, and a "portion of a law-enforcement uniform" in Guerena's house. "Everything they think they're going to find in there, they find," Storie said. "Put it together, and when you have drug rip-offs that occasionally happen where people disguise themselves as law enforcement officers, it all adds up."

I asked Chris Scileppi, the attorney representing Guerena's family, about the "portion of a law enforcement uniform" allegation. "They're trying to imply that he was dressing up as a police officer to force his way into private homes," Scileppi says. But when police serve a search warrant they leave behind a receipt what they've taken from the residence. According to Scileppi, the only item taken from Gurena's home that remotely fits that description was a U.S. Border Control cap—which you can buy from any number of retail outlets, including

About the guns and body armor Scileppi says, "Is it really that difficult to believe that a former Marine living in Arizona would have guns and body armor in his home? Nothing they found in the house is illegal to own in Arizona." In fact, Storie himself acknowledged in the Daily Star that had the SWAT team entered Guerena's home peacefully, they wouldn't have made an arrest.

And when you "put it together," to borrow his own terminology, Storie's comments thus far lead to a pretty astonishing conclusion: After violently breaking into Guerena's home, the police found exactly the evidence they were looking for—yet none of that evidence merited an arrest. Storie is either shamelessly posturing, or he actually believes that the police are justified in violently forcing their way into a private home with their guns drawn, even if they have no expectation that they'll find any evidence of a crime.

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  1. Glad to see Balko nut punching someone else for a change.

    But jebus I can’t fucking get over how awful this story is. Worse than Corey Maye, worse than Willigham, it’s just fucking horrible.

    These SWAT Goons need to stand trial. Anything less in unacceptable.

    1. Fuck you! If they get to do it in Indiana we want to be able to do in Arizona!

      Why do you hate the police?

      1. I don’t hate the police, I just fucking hate SWAT goons who murder innocent people in cold blood.

        Oh, the SWAT goons were cops too? Ok, never mind. I hate the police too. Especially you Storie.

        I actually know a handful of cops who are decent people who are trying to actually protect and serve like the badge says, but even THEY admit that most of the cops on the force are repressed wanna-be Rambo’s who use the badge like a license to be a jerk 24/7.

        That’s probably what is so depressing, that the cops who are the good guys are the exception to the rule these days.

        1. Spoofed T spoofed. Counselor Storie….c’mon pay attention.

          1. I was just playin’ along..I know it’s a spoof.

            1. Shorter Tman “I meant to do that”. 😉

  2. Congratulations to Balko. If he is even half as effective in nut-punching at HuffPo as he was here, the frozen peas sector of the economy could see some steep gains. I hope a lot more people can see how militaristic our country is becoming.

    1. Read the comments if you dare.
      GOP Stormtroopers!
      Sue the cops!
      The Feds will step in and right this wrong!
      If he didn’t have a gun he wouldn’t be shot!

      Oh the stupid is strong at HuffPo.

      1. The stupid is strong everywhere.

      2. If you want to play on hardcore mode, go read an article there about Dupnik regarding Tea Party rhetoric causing people to shoot politicians. Everything’s the other team’s fault.

        To be fair, though, most people “get it” in the Balko article.

      3. My head started hurting after reading the first few comments…

        Great for Balko for the bigger audience…Too bad so many of them are fools.

      4. “If you point a machine gun at a SWAT team what do you think is going to happen”


        An AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle, not a machine gun. Even the select fire M16 variants are not machine guns, they are automatic rifles.

        Furthermore, do they really think this guy was so crazy as to try to take on an entire SWAT team himself? The most logical conclusion is that he was unaware the intruders in his home were police.

  3. Important detail that keeps not getting enough emphasis here: the guy who ordered this fascistic raid on Guerena’s house is Sheriff Dupnik, the same lefturd dick holster who joined his fellow commie fascist jackbooted thug pals in trying to pin the Giffords shooting on Sarah Palin. For the Guerena raid, he and his department should be tried for murder one, convicted, and publicly hanged.

    1. Southerner sez

      “who joined his fellow commie fascist jackbooted thug pals in trying to pin the Giffords shooting on Sarah Palin.”

      Bull shit.

  4. And when you “put it together,” to borrow his own terminology, Storie’s comments thus far lead to a pretty astonishing conclusion: After violently breaking into Guerena’s home, the police found exactly the evidence they were looking for — yet none of that evidence merited an arrest.


    Please tell me that both these statements are sufficiently “on the record” to be brought up in court.


    1. It’s the defense lawyer (hired by the union) for the trigger-happy SWAT goons saying this, not a police spokesman. No way that makes its way into court.

  5. “Those are the real sensitive parts of why we are having difficulty with trying to put information out publicly–because we don’t want somebody getting killed,” Dupnik said.

    Hmmm, except, through the police’s idiotic blundering and cold disregard for human life, gee, someone did get killed, dick.

    1. The only people that count as “somebody” to cops are cops.

  6. Their commenters are so precious.
    Where’s the NRA to tell us that having firearms keeps you safe from home invaders.

    If this guy had been completely unarmed, chances are he’d be alive today.

    1. i did rather enjoy that one

    2. Yeah, thanks dog for the censored comments at HuffPo. You have to register to call this poster a numb-nuts.

      Too bad Balko doesn’t write for Reason anymore.

    3. Like that makes a difference

    4. At least he called the police home invaders.

      1. This.

        Also, he inadvertently pushes the slippery slop argument that once one Amendment (the 4th) is trampled another (the 2nd) is next.

    5. Of course, maybe he’d be alive like Amadou Diallo is alive. What burns me up about this is that even if you take the PD’s original statement at face value, there is no reason Guerena had to die. This was supposedly about marijuana trafficking? Maybe if we stopped treating trade in a commonly used, fairly harmless plant as justification for paramilitary raids, we wouldn’t have tragedies like this either…

  7. and I thought former Baylor basketball coach Dave Bliss blaming Patrick Dennehy for his own murder was the all time low. I was wrong.

  8. About what you would expect from someone who self identifies as Boobuzela.

  9. So, which country has the fastest internet in the world according to the latest survey? South Korea, and it’s speed is increasing. USA? It’s 18th, behind such leading lights as Romania and the Czech Republic.

    Another take on our failing infrastructure here:

    I’m sitting at Gate 31 of Washington’s Reagan National Airport waiting for a flight to Chicago. I’ve actually been sitting here for about four hours so far with no departure time in sight. During that time, I have been booked on three different flights, denied boarding on my original flight when the pilot failed to show up, and had my plane swapped from the Chicago route to become a flight to Denver, but then that was also delayed for want of a pilot.

    This follows an experience last week in which I waited at National Airport for four hours while trying to get the 11 a.m. shuttle to New York and then waited at La Guardia for another four hours before my return flight took off.

    The guy next to me just remarked that he prefers traveling in what we have become accustomed to calling the “Third World.” My wife just called to report that the outer loop of the Washington Beltway has been completely blocked for hours.

    Take the Washington Beltway and the heavily traveled Interstate 95 that connects much of the East Coast. The technology exists to post information on electronic highway signs showing where the bottlenecks are, how long the wait will be, and alternate routes. A few of these signs exist between Washington and Baltimore, but none seem to be in use on the Beltway. Comparing this to driving in Singapore, urban China, Japan, or Germany makes one want to cry.


    South Korea’s internet speed, btw, allows cutting edge research and experiments that are just not possible to conduct with the slow US internet.

    1. Look at all this steal we produce! Clearly the measure of a nation’s wealth is the quantity of some arbitrary output metric.

      1. The USA is today is the USSR circa 1983 or so, that’s my point. Right down to the war in Afghanistan.

        1. A little too close to the truth for comfort. Sucks to fall behind the pack while waving a little plastic flag and screaming…..We’re number 1, We’re number 1!

          1. Especially if the flag was made in China.

            1. WIN!

              1. Thread hijacking is way too easy.

    2. And I bet that a little old lady digging for copper could probably shut down the whole Internet in some of those countries. The US is quite a bit more populous and larger than them, whole different scale of problems.

    3. Starcraft tournaments don’t count as “cutting edge research and experiments”.

      1. I wholeheartedly will support a resolution for the construction of additional pylons.

        Now let’s get Bailey in here to talk about Vespene mining.

        1. Look, our pylon infrastructure is perfectly fine. If you ask me, we need to privatize the creep industry to allow for a more business-friendly zerg strain.

          Vespene: 3 workers. That’s it. Maybe more if we start fracking it.

    4. Population density of South Korea: 487 (/km^2). Czech Republic: 134. Romania: 90.

      Population density of United States: 32.

      That’s sort of a big fucking deal when you’re talking about something as infrastructure-centric as the internet, and one basically unrelated to how fascist we make our economy.

      1. Canada and Australia are both faster, too.

        1. Both have much smaller populations (about 10-20% the size of the US) and both have their populations concentrated in relatively small areas of their country (Australia’s population is concentrated along the coastlines, and Canada’s is concentrated near the US border).

          You get away from those areas in either country, and the infrastructure starts becoming much more sparse.

          Again, our population is much larger and much more spread out than either of those countries, which makes building infrastructure more difficult.

          1. The vast majority of our population is bordered by the coasts and Great Lakes.

            1. No, it’s not.

              Take a look at these two images:



              Those are nighttime pictures of the US, Canada, and Australia taken from a satellite. Each of those individual light dots are towns and cities.

              Notice how concentrated Australia’s are? Notice how abruptly Canada’s cities drop off a few hundred miles from the US border?

              Now notice how spread out the cities are in the United States. They aren’t as thick in the west, but they’re fairly well spread out all over the country. Canada and Australia only have lower population densities because of how much of their land is simply unpopulated. All of their actual population is clustered in very few enclaves which are fairly close to each other.

              That is not the case in the United States.

              1. Best weather Earth’s ever had!

                1. Heh.

                  (Just in case you’re serious, they’re actually mosaics, constructed from many different images so as to get rid of the clouds.)

        2. Yeah, paying extra for metered bandwidth and censored Internet is really fantastic.

        3. [TRIATHLON REPLYS] Though your name is The Truth you speak the Opposite [LIES] for We [TRIATHLON] as a Free Citizen of the [CC] Canadian Confederation, and frequent Visitor to the American-Israeli Military-Industrial Complex [EMPIRE] in the Imperial Province of Michigan [UPPER PENINSULA] know what you Distort, in fact [EMPIRE] Internet though slow by Global [21st] Twenty-First Century Netizen standards is still better than the internet of the [CC] which is painfully slow to Us [TRIATHLON]. We [TRIATHLON] have written many letters to our Sovereign [QUEEN ELIZABETH II], she must not have gotten around to fixing the problem [SLOW INTERNET] as of yet. But, God Save Our Queen! HERCULE TRIATHLON SAVINIEN

          1. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    5. Comparing this to driving in Singapore, urban China, Japan, or Germany makes one want to cry.

      So stupid. So very, very stupid. Also, Japanese people in cities don’t often commute by car; they get pushed (literally) into trains.

  10. Are they paying Balko?

    Or is he just gonna be part of that class-action suit?

  11. Former Reasoner Radley Balko

    you can never leave the mob or Reason

    1. drink?

    2. Or Marines.

  12. Perhaps we will at some point see convincing evidence that Dupnik and Storie are right — that Jose Guerena was in fact a drug dealer and violent criminal who dressed up like a cop to rob rival drug dealers and innocent citizens of Pima County.

    Balko is being generous. It’s obvious to everyone – even Tulpa apparently sees it – that this was a bungled SWAT raid that cost an innocent man his life.

    I’m dissappointed Balko didn’t use what I consider his best argument about careless raids such as this. SWAT introduced violence into a situation where none previously existed. If you’re going to do that, be damned fucking sure you have good intelligence and well-trained officers. These idiots had neither.

    1. I’m also disappointed (spelling!) that I can’t see the HuffPo comments on his article. I would like to know what that crowd thinks.

      1. Oops, nevermind, I see them. I had HuffPo in my restricted sites apparently, probably for some browser slight from long ago.

  13. Let the HuffPo comment cesspool begin.

    It’s a mudflap, not a social commentary. !
    378 Fans
    15 minutes ago (6:30 PM)
    Where’s the NRA to tell us that having firearms keeps you safe from home invaders.

    If this guy had been completely unarmed, chances are he’d be alive today.

    1. Ha! Ha!

      That’s what you get
      for owning LEGAL guns!

      1. That and he had a house with doors on it. Clearly that’s inviting the police to break them down unannounced.

        1. It only happened cuz it’s Arizona — why isn’t the FBI or DOJ investigating?

          As if these types of militarized police over-reactions weren’t occurring all over the country with the full knowledge and approval of the Obama DOJ.

          1. To be fair, most of the HUFFyComments express outrage over the situation…..good work Balko, stir it up!

            1. Comments about comments. The circle is complete.

              1. And the circle was also unbroken until your broader commentary about it. How’s it feel, killjoy abortionist?

              2. Shit just got meta.

  14. Disgusting. It’s bad enough these guys burst into a man’s home and shoot him to death. Now, instead of admitting their mistake, they try to paint him as some sort of violent criminal.

    Who are the judges that see this happen, yet still think it’s ok to sign off on these home invasions?

    1. Who are the judges that see this happen, yet still think it’s ok to sign off on these home invasions?

      The ones that are elected, that’s who.

      1. A few more of these incidents and that might change. And unfortunately these incidents don’t seem to be on the decline and are actually being reported.

    2. Disgusting. It’s bad enough these guys burst into a man’s home and shoot him to death. Now, instead of admitting their mistake, they try to paint him as some sort of violent criminal.

      C’mon lowdog we have to slander him….after all there are pensions to collect.

  15. If you guys at Reason don’t link us to his posts at the horrible HuffPo, I’m never going to read another thing from Mr. Balko.

    Rather have rusty ten penny nails driven through each of my fingers and toes than follow a hyperlink to that nut house.

  16. I’m glad that Balko has a wider audience. Skimming the comments, there are people who are genuinely outraged that this sort of raid goes on. Balko is going to open a lot more minds over there, and his stories (and the victims) will get a lot more well-deserved exposure.

    1. I agree. I thought we’d see the puffins jumping all over the guy because he had a evul combat assault black babykilling rifle (loaded with babyseekers no doubt). But there were only a few comments like that.

      They were quick to blame republicans, which shows they either didn’t read or specifically ignored one rather important part of the article on who the sheriff was….but I don’t really care about that either because I don’t like republicans.

      1. He sounds Mexican so they’re pissed. Fucking racism bro.

  17. Better locks make more honest people. If the house had had GOOD locks the swat team would not have killed him and would have no legal problems that they would need a lawyer to spread spin

    The other problem is that he (as a combat veteran) chose to exhibit a gun rather than use it and did not bring enough gun.

    Home invaders use most of the same script that they see on TV so the ‘victum’ is told by law enforcement to always give up. The perpetrator should never see the gun that shoots him and taking heed of what is behind to get a good angle with regard to over penetration. Shooting a neighbor is not friendly esp if a half step would have taken him out of line of fire.

    The information looks like cowboys in uniform with propaganda rather well trained officers – the Sheriffs remarks after the Tucson shooting lends a lot to this impression. It would be unusual for a loose cannon to have a well disciplined crew.

  18. So I was trying to find that Boobuzuela fellow to ask him if he regularly sucks cop cock. But I gave up after page 7. God that comments section sucks ass.

  19. I didn’t see a single mention of the Kochs in the comments. No one called Radley a glibertarian, either. Don’t you fucking disappoint me, Huffpo readers.

    1. They just don’t know yet.

      I’ll try to catch his next post about a Democrat-sheriffed injustice and start them off.

  20. What the hell?!?!

    The article here linking the the real post got more comments then it did at Huffington post….


    1. Oh wait never mind…i read it wrong


  21. From the comments:

    164 Fans
    6 minutes ago (1:49 AM)
    Brilliant police work. Marijuana! Everyone involved should be arrested and thrown off the force.

    Is that our thoreau?

    1. Thoreau was a good commentator. Sad he never comes around anymore. When I first came on here it was Joe, Thoreau, J sub D (rest in peace), Jennifer and me.

    2. Thoreau was always my favorite H&R poster. This blunt sarcasm doesn’t really sound like him. His comments always had an incisive wit. He still posts at Jim Henley’s Unqualified Offerings:

  22. Hilarious update, via Radley himself on Facebook. He’s making an impact with the Huffers, and the e-mails are better than the posted comments!

    Mr. Balko, you should know that these raids happen all the time in America. Inform yourself with this report and online map from the Cato Institute . . .

    How let the cat out of the bag that Balko never reads his own stuff? Even while he’s writing it?


    1. Priceless!

  23. The “Theme from S.W.A.T.” is stuck in my head now.

  24. Wow, I never even thought about it like that before. Makes sense.

  25. From the article:

    “When I contacted Public Information Officer Jason Ogan”

    All I could think of was Jason “Snapper” Ogan.

  26. I just watched a helmet-cam video and it sickened me. I’m awake and listening to a recording taken outside the house and I can’t understand what the SWAT team is yelling (although I hear someone clearly saying “bang bang bang” before hand). From what I see, they break down a door and start shooting into a house with one sleepy man, his wife and 4-year old son inside, sending bullets into neighboring houses. And for what? To make sure he didn’t flush his Jesus Malvarde icon down the toilet? Shame on them for doing this in the first place. Shame of them for insisting they did nothing wrong. Shame on them for doubling down and slandering this poor man after killing him and terrorizing his family.

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