One year after 18-year-old Andres Guardado was fatally shot by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, friends and family members on Friday held a rally in downtown L.A. calling for justice and accountability.
Guardado, who was working as an informal security guard at an auto body shop near Gardena before he died, was shot five times in the back on June 18, 2020 after being chased by deputies who were on patrol in the 400 block of West Redondo Beach Boulevard.
The shooting ignited public outcry and prompted multiple weeks of protest,s with activists calling for the resignation of Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
An independent autopsy on Guardado also sparked controversy when it was initially placed on a security hold by the Sheriff’s Department.
The L.A. County coroner decided to eventually release the report, despite pushback from the Sheriff’s Department, citing the public’s right to know.
The deputy who fired the shot that killed Guardado has been identified as Miguel Vega. With him was Deputy Chris Hernandez, who served as backup on the night of the shooting.
Their attorneys have argued that the shooting was justified, and LASD has said deputies pursued Guardado after he “produced a handgun,” looked toward the deputies and ran from them.
A loaded handgun was later found near Guardado’s body, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
However, family members and community activists say they believe the teenager might have been shot multiple times as he ran away from the deputies.
The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department and L.A. County last fall, alleging deputies used excessive force when they killed Guardado.
County leaders upset over the LASD’s handling of the investigation prompted the coroner’s office to conduct an inquest, a rare proceeding that hadn’t been held in L.A. County in nearly 30 years. However, the public examination failed to produce new information regarding the shooting after the deputies involved refused to testify, invoking their Fifth Amendment rights.
When asked for comment Friday, the Sheriff’s Department released the following statement to KTLA: “The investigation involving the death of Andres Guardado was completed by the Department’s Homicide Bureau and delivered to the Office of the District Attorney’s, Justice System Integrity Division for review on December 19, 2020. It would be inappropriate for us to offer further comment on another agencies investigation at this time. Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Mr. Guardado.”