LA county officials demand independent probe into deputy’s killing of 18-year-old security guard

LA county officials demand independent probe into deputy’s killing of 18-year-old security guard
A woman places flowers at a memorial outside the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where 18-year-old Andres Guardado, seen at right, was shot and killed Thursday, June 18, 2020, by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

GARDENA, Calif. — Los Angeles County officials are demanding an independent investigation into the death of Andres Guardado, an 18-year-old security guard shot at least six times Thursday by a sheriff’s deputy.

Guardado was apparently working at an auto body shop near Gardena just before 6 p.m. Thursday when two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies from the Compton substation spotted him standing in front of the business at 420 W. Redondo Beach Blvd.

Andres Guardado, 18, is pictured in a photo on a memorial where he was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County deputy Thursday, June 18, 2020, outside an auto body shop in Gardena, Calif.
Andres Guardado, 18, is pictured in a photo on a memorial where he was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County deputy Thursday, June 18, 2020, outside an auto body shop in Gardena, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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“Guardado reportedly looked toward the deputies, produced a handgun and ran southbound down the driveway of the business at the location,” according to Capt. Kent Wegener, head of the sheriff’s department’s Homicide Bureau. “Deputies gave chase on foot and ultimately caught up to Guardado at the rear of the business, where a deputy-involved shooting occurred.”

One deputy fired six shots at the teen, who was struck in the torso. He was pronounced dead at the scene, Wegener said during a news conference Saturday.

The teen’s death has prompted protests, during which activists have said Guardado was shot in the back. On Friday, more than two dozen people, including Guardado’s family, gathered at the scene of his killing.

On Sunday, that total went up to hundreds of protesters.

“My parents are completely destroyed,” his sister, Jennifer Guardado, told The Associated Press. “We’re all dead inside. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him and it hurt me too much.”

Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, introduced a motion Tuesday demanding a “robust and independent investigation to ensure the truth is uncovered and justice is served.”

“The community and family have been grieving and rightly seeking answers,” Ridley-Thomas’ motion read, in part.

Jennifer Guardado, 22, is comforted by a relative Friday, June 19, 2020, outside the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where her brother, 18-year-old Andres Guardado, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy the day before.
Jennifer Guardado, 22, is comforted by a relative Friday, June 19, 2020, outside the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where her brother, 18-year-old Andres Guardado, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy the day before. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The supervisor argued that, though the board earlier this year expanded the duties and powers of the county inspector general’s office, as well as the Civilian Oversight Commission, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department “has a track record of not fully complying” with the groups’ requests for information.

The motion called the department’s alleged failure to comply a “disturbing trend that cannot be tolerated,” and one that raises questions into whether the inspector general can adequately fulfill its oversight role.

“In the case of the fatal shooting of Andres Guardado, as well as in other cases, the public has a right to be assured that county government is doing all it can to monitor law enforcement, to insist upon transparency, to embrace accountability and to promote a culture of reform-minded 21st century constitutional policing,” the motion read.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the motion passed unanimously.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva spoke out Wednesday against the motion, saying that board members allowed no one to speak prior to their vote and apparently want no input on the issue from anyone but themselves.

“The five little kings are really showing their true colors,” Villanueva said. “They don’t want any participation from anyone, including the sheriff. So that’s on them.”

Ridley-Thomas joined U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters and Nanette Diaz Barragán, both of California, in seeking an independent investigation. The congresswomen on Sunday issued a statement asking California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to initiate a probe into the shooting.

“Another day, and another Black or Brown kid has been shot in the back by police,” read the statement posted to Waters’ congressional webpage. “These killings must stop. We demand it. The American people demand it.

“Andres Guardado is the latest young man of color killed by police gunfire.  He was shot in the back. The officers involved did not wear body cameras.”

Villanueva said Saturday that Becerra’s office is monitoring the investigation into Guardado’s killing but that it was “premature” at that time to ask Becerra to do a separate investigation.

Pictured is a memorial outside the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where Andres Guardado, 18, was shot and killed Thursday, June 18, 2020, by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.
Pictured is a memorial outside the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where Andres Guardado, 18, was shot and killed Thursday, June 18, 2020, by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Villanueva also said the teen’s shooting underscored the need for body-worn cameras, which his department does not have. The agency is currently obtaining bids from companies that sell the equipment.

The sheriff aimed the guilt for the lack of body cameras at the Board of Supervisors.

“We’ve been pushing the county to get this implemented and up and running,” Villanueva said. “Had the Board of Supervisors acted on this my first month in office, in December, this would have been not the news it need be today because the deputies would already have had the body-worn cameras on them and we would have a lot more evidence to draw from.”

Watch Saturday’s news conference on the killing of Andres Guardado below.

Press Conference: Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Homicide Bureau To Provide Updates Regarding the Deputy Involved Shooting that Occurred in Unincorporated Gardena

Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Homicide Bureau To Provide Updates Regarding the Deputy Involved Shooting that Occurred in Unincorporated Gardena

Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Saturday, June 20, 2020

In their call for action, Waters and Barragán said there must be full transparency so the public can trust the investigation into the teen’s death.

“For weeks, the American people and the world have marched to demand accountability, put an end to aggressive and violent police tactics, and (demand) equal justice for Black and Brown communities,” their statement read. “We must show them their pleas are being heard now. That begins with making sure we get justice for Andres Guardado.”

Wegener said Saturday that Guardado, who was not old enough to work as a state-licensed armed security guard, was not wearing a guard’s uniform or a gun belt. He had no holster or extra magazines of ammunition for his pistol, and he had no handcuffs.

The teen is not believed to have fired the weapon, described as a .45-caliber handgun with a polymer frame. It had no markings or serial number, the homicide chief said.

Pictured in a March 2019 Street View image is the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where Andres Guardado, 18, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County deputy Thursday, June 18, 2020.
Pictured in a March 2019 Street View image is the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where Andres Guardado, 18, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County deputy Thursday, June 18, 2020. (Google)

“It had a Smith & Wesson upper slide and a prohibited extended magazine with a 15-round capacity made by Glock,” Wegener said. “There were 13 live rounds loaded in that firearm.”

The handgun was being analyzed at the department’s crime lab, he said.

Detectives were also trying to piece together what happened by looking at surveillance footage from six or seven exterior cameras installed in the area of the shooting.

According to the AP, Guardado’s killing is not the first shooting to take place at the body shop this month. On June 7, a man was shot in the driveway of the business.

The victim of that shooting survived, the AP reported. A shotgun and drugs were found inside the business, according to police.

Family members embrace in the driveway of the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where Andres Guardado, 18, was shot and killed Thursday, June 18, 2020, by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.
Family members embrace in the driveway of the Gardena, Calif., auto body shop where Andres Guardado, 18, was shot and killed Thursday, June 18, 2020, by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Guardado’s family described him as a sweet young man who was working two part-time security positions to help support his family. He was also a student at the Los Angeles Trade-Technical College.

The Los Angeles Community College District confirmed that Guardado was a student and offered its condolences and support to his family.

“The loss of life is a tragic event, especially when it involves gun violence,” the district said in a statement. “LACCD strongly supports the call by Mr. Guardado’s family for a full and independent investigation into the circumstances of the killing.

“His death comes at a time of national outcry for social justice and significant police reform regarding the use of deadly force by law enforcement, and for a greater emphasis on de-escalation techniques and community policing.”

The district states that people must “never become desensitized to, or normalized by, the alarming number of deaths by law enforcement of Black and Brown men and women in this country.”

“It cannot be tolerated and the time for police reform is now,” the district statement read.

Guardado’s shooting was the second deputy-involved killing in as many days. On Wednesday, Terron J. Boone, 31, was shot and killed when he reportedly opened fire on deputies in the community of Rosemond, where authorities said he was being arrested on charges he had beaten his girlfriend and held her captive for nearly a week.

Boone was the half-brother of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old Black man found hanging from a tree June 10 in Palmdale. Though authorities suspect Fuller committed suicide, his death remains under investigation.