LA County Coroner Inquest Finds Police Shooting of Teen Was Homicide

Andres Guardado (Family photo)

(CN) — A retired judge on Friday found that the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old last June by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy was a homicide.

The death of Andres Guardado, which occurred less than a month after the killing of George Floyd, sparked protests across the county. 

Retired Court of Appeals Justice Candace Cooper, through the county coroner’s office, published findings of the inquest into Guardado’s death on Friday, stating that the “manner of death was by the hands of another person other than by accident.”

An independent autopsy found that Guardado was shot in the back five times. Guardado was working as a security guard at an auto body shop in Gardena, California when he was approached by two officers on patrol.

The sheriff’s department said Guardado ran from the officers but eventually stopped and complied with orders to lay prone on a driveway by the shop. The department claims Deputy Miguel Vega shot Guardado after he reached for a pistol he dropped on the ground.

During the inquest, two LASD officers refused to answer Cooper’s questions, asserting their Fifth Amendment privileges. Vega and Chris Hernandez, who was also present at the shooting, were suspended in December due to an unrelated investigation into a car collision that occurred in April 2020.

Guardado’s family released a statement on Friday asking Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón to bring charges.

“Justice Cooper has confirmed what we knew all along,” the statement read. “We now call upon District Attorney Gascón to do what the Sheriff’s Department has not, and that is to take action and hold these deputies accountable for their criminal actions.”

“Andres was a good person with his whole life ahead of him,” the statement added. “That life was violently taken from him, and we suffer the consequences as his killers remain free. Our family will not rest until we have justice for Andres.” 

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