Officials say no evidence links Andres Guardado to incidents where deputy shot him
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said Wednesday that the Gardena area where Andres Guardado was fatally shot five times in the back by a deputy was a crime hot spot, generating 23 calls for service in the last five and a half years.
But they said they have no evidence that Guardado, 18, was linked to any of those incidents and failed to describe what prompted Deputy Miguel Vega to shoot him.
In a statement, the Guardado family’s attorney said the news briefing, which was billed as an update to the June 18 shooting investigation, “did nothing to explain to the family or the public” why Guardado was shot.
“The department’s attempt to convolute and cherry pick the facts to create a narrative that links Andres’ death to previous incidents of crime near the shop is nothing more than an attempt to justify the killing of this young man,” attorney Adam Shea said in a statement. “The Sheriff’s Department has once again failed the Guardado family who were hoping today would be the day for truth in Andres’ death.”
The Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday released a short clip that captured the beginning of Andres Guardado’s encounter with two deputies before he was fatally shot by one.
At the briefing, sheriff’s officials played a short clip from a security camera that captured the beginning of Guardado’s encounter with the deputies. The clip, which skips intermittently throughout, shows Guardado talking with the occupants of a white Lexus. He runs away as two deputies get out of their patrol car and give chase.
Investigators said they are still trying to identify the people in the Lexus.
They also played video footage from an unrelated shooting at the same location 11 days earlier. The deputies involved in the Guardado shooting also responded to the June 7 shooting, in which a man was found with multiple gunshot wounds, Cmdr. Chris Marks told reporters. Investigators served a search warrant and found bottles of nitrous oxide gas, methamphetamine and a shotgun inside the location on West Redondo Beach Boulevard.
“There’s obviously a pattern of criminal activity occurring at this location, which is why the deputies are probably drawn to that location in being proactive and trying to address a problem,” Marks said. He added that the Guardado shooting would have been recorded had it not been for the earlier shooting investigation, during which investigators seized the DVR connected to cameras at the location.
The Sheriff’s Department has been tight-lipped about the criminal investigation into Guardado’s shooting, saying that it is ongoing, which has drawn skepticism from the community and calls for an independent investigation. Sheriff Alex Villanueva has said the FBI is monitoring the inquiry. The shooting has generated national attention and weeks of large protests, including at Vega’s home.
“This takes time; we have to get it right,” Villanueva said at Wednesday’s briefing. “We only have one chance to do it right.”
The union that represents Guardado’s father and dozens of activist groups have called on Villanueva to resign, saying he has mishandled the investigation and has resisted accountability and oversight in his time as sheriff.
Investigators said Guardado was shot and killed about 6 p.m. on June 18, after two deputies saw him speaking to someone in a car blocking the entrance to a body shop on West Redondo Beach Boulevard. They said that Guardado “produced a handgun” and ran away and that deputies chased him. When deputies reached him, one fired.
Marks said a .40-caliber, semiautomatic weapon with no serial number was recovered from the scene. Guardado’s DNA was recovered from the pistol’s trigger, trigger guard and the magazine inside the weapon, he said.
Guardado’s family said he was working as a security guard at a nearby body shop. Marks said Wednesday that no one interviewed as part of the investigation has admitted to hiring Guardado as a guard. He said Guardado did not have a security guard license and wasn’t old enough to be an armed security guard.
Almost a month went by before Vega was interviewed by homicide investigators. His attorney, Adam Marangell, has said that Guardado reached for his gun while face down on the ground and that the shooting was justified.
“We hope the reckless and erroneous assertion made by some that Mr. Guardado did not possess a firearm that evening is dispelled,” Marangell said in a statement Wednesday. “In fact, the gun Mr. Guardado illegally possessed was a ‘ghost gun’ as it was unregistered and had no serial number. While the death of Mr. Guardado is of course tragic, we hope as more actual facts are released a fuller picture will develop showing the actions of Deputy Vega were, nonetheless, completely justified.”
Neither deputy in the Guardado shooting was wearing a body camera. Villanueva said the Sheriff’s Department entered an agreement with Axon Enterprise Inc. this week for body-worn cameras and will roll them out at five stations in October.
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