The death of a teenager who was shot dead by a California sheriff’s deputy in June will be investigated in the first inquest to be held in Los Angeles in more than 30 years.
In a rare move, Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner, Dr Jonathan Lucas, called for the inquest into the shooting death of 18-year-old Andres Guardado.
Guardado was shot in the back five times by a sheriff’s deputy from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on June 18.
Police claimed he ‘produced a gun and ran away’ from the deputies outside an auto body shop where he worked as a security guard. The county Board of Supervisors identified the deputy who shot Guardado as Manuel Vega.
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The death of Andres Guardado (left and right), 18, who was shot dead by a California sheriff’s deputy in June will be investigated in the first inquest to be held in Los Angeles in more than 30 years
Dr Lucas, who ruled Guardado’s death a homicide in July, released a statement on Tuesday about his decision to call for an inquest in the ‘interest of public transparency’.
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner has appointed a former Court of Appeals Justice, Candace Cooper, to conduct an inquest beginning November 30 into the circumstances, manner, and cause of death of Andres Guardado Pineda, according to the statement.
According to California law, the Medical Examiner-Coroner is permitted to order a formal inquest any time there is a death of an individual in the county.
‘The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is committed to transparency and providing the residents of Los Angeles County an independent assessment of its findings in this case,’ Lucas said.
‘An inquest ensures that our residents will have an independent review of all the evidence and findings of our office and of the cause and manner of death of Mr. Guardado.’
According to the statement, the inquest supports the department’s mission and purpose to provide independent, evidence-based death investigations, addresses the public’s interest in the death, and is in accord with a motion approved by the Board of Supervisors on September 1.
Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner, Dr Jonathan Lucas (pictured), called for the inquest into the shooting death of the 18-year-old
Guardado (right) was shot in the back five times (depicted left) by a sheriff’s deputy from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on June 18. Police claimed he ‘produced a gun and ran away’ from the deputies outside an auto body shop where he worked as a security guard
Dr Lucas, who ruled Guardado’s death a homicide in July, released a statement on Tuesday about his decision to call for an inquest in the ‘interest of public transparency’
Lucas’s office will subpoena relevant witnesses to testify and documents to present at the inquest, which will be public.
After hearing testimony, the hearing officer will make findings related to the cause and manner of death. The hearing officer will then forward her decision and recommendation to Lucas.
In July, Guardado’s sister, Jennifer, urged officials to further examine the circumstances leading up to her sibling’s death in Gardena.
‘Even if this is the last day I breathe, I’m not holding this back because I feel it in my soul that my brother was murdered, and this was covered up,’ Jennifer told NBC LA at the time.
Soon after, US Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán and Maxine Waters joined the Guardado family in calling for an independent investigation.
‘Another day and another Black or Brown kid has been shot in the back by police,’ the Los Angeles-based democrats said in a joint statement in July. ‘These killings must stop. We demand it. The American people demand it.’
Guardado was standing outside the auto shop where he worked in Gardena, in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, guarding against graffiti taggers on the day of the shooting.
The Hispanic teenager allegedly spotted officers patrolling the area just before 6pm, and investigators say they saw him flash a handgun before taking off, police said.
In July, Guardado’s sister, Jennifer (pictured during a protest on June 19), urged officials to further examine the circumstances leading up to her sibling’s death in Gardena
Relatives of Guardado, embrace as they tour the site of the shooting outside an auto shop in Gardena, California
However his boss told reporters Guardado had a clean record, and that the approaching sheriffs pulled their own guns on the teenager, which scared him into fleeing the scene.
Officers began chasing him on foot southbound before a deputy fired a gun, striking Guardado’s upper torso and killing him.
Head of the LA County Sheriff Department’s homicide division, Capt Kent Wegener, says that deputies reported seeing Guardado – who allegedly wasn’t wearing a uniform – talking to someone in a car outside of the auto shop.
Authorities say Guardado ‘looked to the deputies’ and ‘produced a gun’ before running away, Wegener said just weeks after the teen’s death.
He said at the time that Guardado was too young to work as a state-licensed security guard at the business.
The shooting took place in an alleyway in the back of the building.
Investigators said they recovered a modified .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol at the scene. It had no markings or serial number and appeared to have been pieced together from different parts.
Grief-stricken relatives gathered at the scene of Guardado’s death and erected a memorial for the teenager
Protest against police violence at the scene where Andres Guardado was shot and killed by the police on Friday, June 19
The shooting took place in an alleyway in the back of the building (above). Guardado was shot in the torso
The gun had not been fired, the police captain said. Guardado’s family have insisted that they do not believe the teenager was armed.
The teen’s sister said that her brother did not carry weapons. She said she wants to meet the deputy who shot Guardado and see video footage of what happened.
‘They’re not going to kill an innocent person and get away with it,’ she said. ‘There will be justice in this world.’
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva promised to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in the ongoing investigation. Investigators have taken footage from six or seven exterior cameras from the scene for examination.
‘Shootings are thoroughly investigated,’ said at the time. ‘It’s a deliberative process that can sometimes be maddeningly slow.’
Villanueva said the shooting underscores why the department needs to get body cameras for all of its uniformed deputies as soon as possible. The department is currently soliciting bids for a company to provide the cameras.
Guardado graduated from high school about a year ago and he recently purchased a car. He didn’t drink or smoke, and supported his parents, family members said
Noe Abarca said Guardado was his nephew and worked two part-time security jobs, lived with his parents in Koreatown and had a brother and sister.
‘This kid here, he was such a sweetheart,’ she said. ‘I will not stand by and let this go on.’
Abarca said his nephew was studying to be a mechanic and had recently told family members that he was considering joining the Army.
Guardado graduated from high school about a year ago, Abarca said, and he recently purchased a car. He didn’t drink or smoke, and supported his parents, he said.
‘He was a great kid. He was always making jokes, smiling,’ Abarca said. ‘How many kids do we have like him? Not many.’
Guardado attended Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, according to the Los Angeles Community College District, which called his death a tragedy.