If you view the situation through the eyes of the SWAT Team officers, Ray Rosas firing 15 rounds, striking three officers, was an attempt to kill them, a capital murder. But then, why would Ray Rosas view the situation through their eyes, knowing only afterward that this time it was the police? From the Corpus Christi Times-Caller:
A man who shot three Corpus Christi police officers executing a raid on his home had been the victim of several drive-by shootings and believed he was protecting his house, his lawyers said at the start of trial Wednesday.
Previous attacks on Ray Rosas’ home in the 3000 block of Churchill near Del Mar College are part of Rosas’ defense for the Feb. 19, 2015, shooting.
Rosas was on the wrong side of the good-guy curve, a guy in his home who had suffered previous shooting. The cops outside know they’re cops, but how would he know?
Senior Officer Adam Villarreal said the officers intended to serve a no-knock warrant on Rosas’ nephew, who was suspected of drug charges. Police tossed a flash bang through Rosas’ bedroom window, which is intended to catch a suspect off guard .
Rosas’ defense lawyers said his vision and hearing were impacted and he was unable to distinguish them as officers. Rosas fired about 15 rounds and injured officers Steven Ruebelmann, Steven Brown and Andrew Jordan.
Fairly typical no-knock raid, with the flash-bang grenade to disorient the people inside, followed by a “dynamic entry,” which sounds somewhat better than the reality of a gang of armed intruders breaking into a home at night. What necessitated such extreme action?
Small amounts of cocaine, crack cocaine, prescription medications used for anxiety and pain, and some marijuana were found inside. Officers also seized $600 in cash.
Code Enforcement also had to arrange for the water and gas connections to be terminated. According to police the residents were stealing utilities. AEP disconnected the electrical service as the connection was deemed to be unsafe.
But as the SWAT Team executed its raid, it was unconcerned that there were residents other than 30-year-old Santiago Garcia, for whom the warrant issues.
Rosas’ elderly mother and brother who has dementia were inside the home at the time, his lawyers said.
After the grenade was thrown into his bedroom, Rosas started firing. It’s not as if he had no reason to fear who burst into his home.
In 2001, Rosas testified against a gang member who had been charged with a violent crime on Rosas’ house. Rosas’ lawyers said he was threatened as a result.
Villarreal said the officers had yelled “police” and he pointed out that there was a camera with livestreaming capabilities in Rosas’ bedroom from which he could have seen the officers outside. Villarreal said as officers restrained Rosas after the shots were fired, he told them he didn’t know they were police, but then directed profanity toward them.
There is dispute whether the officers identified themselves, but then, even if they did, the scenario isn’t one that lends itself to calm decision-making. Nor does the fact that there was a camera with “livestreaming capabilities” offer much comfort, since it doesn’t inform as to whether the “capabilities” were being used at the time, and even if they were, why Rosas would be watching. These are the sorts of arguments used when there are no good points to be made.
As for Rosas directing profanity toward the cops, few situations would seem to warrant a bit of unpleasantness more than a SWAT Team raiding your home. People rarely express deep appreciation for the hard work of others when they throw a grenade into your bedroom then knock down your door.
But the issue here isn’t whether the cops were justified in obtaining and executing a no-knock warrant for what appears to be at worst a trivial offense, or risking the lives of occupants for whom no cause to believe they were engaged in any wrongdoing existed. The issue here is whether Ray Rosas is guilty of the attempted murder of police. Rosas, not the cops, is on trial.
Lawyers said while Rosas was being booked in the Nueces County jail, he told staffers he didn’t know the intruders were officers and would not have used his gun if he’d recognized them as law enforcement.
When someone is raiding a house, what’s a homeowner to do? Is his duty to wait and see who it is, to ask without profanity whether the intruders are police officers or gangbangers? Is it a homeowner’s duty to be killed rather than kill?
The irony here, aside from whether the police were wise to go the no-knock route, the flash-bang and dynamic entry, is that this was Corpus Christi, Texas. People have guns in Texas. Lots of people. Lots of guns. They are inclined to use their guns, to defend their homes, and Texas has long reflected an abiding respect for the Castle Doctrine, to the point where a shoot is considered acceptable long after it’s clear that there is no threat.
Does the fact that the intruders are cops change how a homeowner is expected to react?
Much as cops justify their exercise of the First Rule of Policing by the use of force and violence in a no-knock raid, its efficacy is dubious.
Estimates show that the total number of SWAT deployments across the country has increased from a few hundred per year in the 1970s, to a few thousand per year in the 80s, and in 2010, the Washington Times reported estimates being as high as 50,000 per year.
If the “blue lives matter” crowd truly cares about officers lives, they should probably join us in calling for an end to this absurd drug war.
Ray Rosas did no more than any homeowner, with no particular reason to suspect that the armed gang breaking into his home were police, by defending himself and his family. While the cops outside may have known who they were and what they were doing there, how the hell would Rosas know? No person has a duty to die just to be certain that no police officer engaged in the exercise of needless and risky force should go unscathed.
That three officers were shot isn’t because of Rosas’ commission of a crime, but his exercise of his right to defend his home from intruders. And that’s a damn fine shiner in his booking photo.
Update: After two hours of deliberations, the jury acquitted Rosas of attempted murder.