Activists gather at memorial for Andres Guardado to demand sheriff release autopsy report
A coalition of community activists gathered Sunday at a street memorial in Gardena for Andres Guardado, who was fatally shot June 18 by an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy, and called on Sheriff Alex Villanueva to release the autopsy report of the 18-year-old.
“Villanueva has to be held accountable,” Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope said in a phone interview. “He is saying the investigation will be transparent, but he had blocked release of the autopsy. It is important not just for the family, but the whole city is watching this case.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department put a “security hold” on the Guardado case Monday, saying that “investigators wish to maintain the integrity of the investigation, and premature release of information could jeopardize the case.”
Activists believe the autopsy will provide crucial information about the killing of Guardado, who was speaking with someone in a car outside an auto body shop where he worked as a security guard when deputies arrived.
According to the Sheriff’s Department, deputies from the Compton station pulled up to the scene about 6 p.m. Authorities said that Guardado “produced a handgun” and that two deputies chased him on foot. When the deputies caught up, one of them opened fire on Guardado, officials said.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Villanueva and investigators have not said what prompted the shooting and have released few details about the confrontation.
Family members and activists have expressed skepticism about the Sheriff’s Department’s version of events. Four days after the shooting, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors called for an independent investigation into the shooting.
Speaking to more than two dozen people near the site where Guardado was killed, Ali also called upon Compton Mayor Aja Brown to rescind the city’s contract with the Sheriff’s Department and to bring back the Compton Police Department, which was disbanded in 2000.
“Twenty years ago, the Compton sheriff’s station came into Compton,” Ali said, “and we want to draw attention to the historically murderous relationship between the … Sheriff’s Department and our community.”
Cliff Smith, representing the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, also spoke at the sidewalk memorial. “We are in accordance with demands that the mayor and the City Council of Compton take responsibility for the sheriff’s [deputies] dispatched out of their station,” he said beforehand. “This is not a new demand.”
The shooting of Guardado came a little more than two weeks after video was released showing two deputies kneeling on top of a struggling man while a third deputy strikes the man five times with his knee.
The man was identified as Dalvin Price, who was arrested on suspicion of looting and assault with a deadly weapon.
Reacting to Price’s arrest — with tactics reminiscent of those that led to the death of George Floyd — Brown asked for an investigation into the incident, and Villanueva has called on the Board of Supervisors to “fully fund the [Sheriff’s Department’s] body-worn camera project.”
The gathering at the Guardado memorial took place as a community car wash was being held to raise money for the family. Last week, more than 100 protesters took to the streets and marched on the Compton sheriff’s station, where they were met with a dozen deputies in riot gear.
Organizers decided Sunday not to march on the sheriff’s station but instead support the car wash.
“We don’t want any disturbance,” said Noe Abarca, Guardado’s uncle, at the car wash.
“We are tired of police using the force on young people,” he added.
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