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L.A. County leaders call for independent investigation into Andres Guardado’s death

Protesters march outside the L.A. County sheriff's Compton station
Hundreds of people marched to the L.A. County sheriff’s Compton station on Sunday to protest the fatal shooting of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old security guard, by deputies last week.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is calling for an independent investigation into the death of an 18-year-old security guard who was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy last week.

A motion that passed unanimously at Tuesday’s board meeting aims to ensure that “the truth is uncovered and justice is served” for Andres Guardado, said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, referring to the security guard who, according to the motion, was shot six or seven times by a deputy.

Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion, said the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department has a record of failing to fully comply with requests from the county’s Office of the Inspector General and its Civilian Oversight Commission when they attempt to investigate the agency.

“This is a disturbing trend that cannot be tolerated and that raises questions into whether the [inspector general’s office] will be able to fulfill its mandated role in overseeing investigations,” Ridley-Thomas said in the motion.

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U.S. Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-San Pedro) and Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) have also called for an independent investigation.

The motion requests that the sheriff give the inspector general “immediate and full access to all evidence requested in order to provide independent oversight,” and directs the county’s attorneys to investigate “alternative plans to ensure an independent investigation in this case.”

During the board meeting, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement posted to Instagram that he did not agree with the motion, and that his agency was already thoroughly investigating Guardado’s death.

“We’re using our homicide bureau who are the most experienced homicide investigators in the nation and second to none,” Villanueva said.

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In a statement last week, Villanueva said the Sheriff’s Department is “more transparent than ever before” under his leadership, touting his cooperation with the inspector general’s office.

That inspector general’s office, however, has repeatedly complained that it has been denied records it needs to monitor the agency.

Inspector General Max Huntsman has said that the department failed to provide records related to the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and to the fatal shooting of Terron Boone in Rosamond last week.

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In response to demands for outside oversight, Villanueva said on Twitter on Monday that he had, “out of an abundance of caution,” reached out to California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to ask his office to monitor the Guardado investigation.

“I am committed to transparency and strengthening community faith in the investigative process,” he wrote.

But that transparency is being questioned by critics who say the department appears to be planning to block the release of Guardado’s autopsy.

L.A. County coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said the Sheriff’s Department put a “security hold” on the case of Guardado, who was to be examined on Monday. She said the coroner’s office could not release the results of the autopsy — which would reveal how many times and where on his body Guardado was shot — until the hold was lifted.

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It’s not uncommon for law enforcement agencies to place security holds on official reports in high-profile police shootings, but critics point out that such holds don’t automatically expire and can last months or even years. At any given time, there may be dozens of cases with security holds.

There have been growing demands for answers from Guardado’s family and community leaders, who held a protest Sunday that ended with deputies firing less-than-lethal weapons at them.

“Why’d you kill that kid?” the crowd chanted after marching to the Compton sheriff’s station.

Villanueva has provided few details about what led up to the shooting.

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The Sheriff’s Department has said that Guardado was shot about 6 p.m. Thursday near a Gardena auto body shop.

The agency alleges that Guardado was speaking with someone in a car that was blocking the location when deputies arrived.

Guardado is alleged to have fled after he “produced a handgun,” according to the Sheriff’s Department. Two deputies gave chase and when they caught up to him, one of them fired six rounds at him, authorities said. Guardado was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities have said they don’t know whether Guardado pointed the gun at the deputy, but “don’t believe” Guardado fired any shots.

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Times staff writers Ruben Vives and Dorany Pineda contributed to this report.


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