Covina, CA – Protesters gathered on the lawn of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy on Thursday evening and demanded that he be charged for the fatal shooting of Andrew Guardado in June.
The incident occurred at about 6 p.m. on June 18 near the 400-block of Redondo Beach Boulevard, KCAL reported.
Deputies patrolling the area said that the 18-year-old Guardado flashed a gun at them and then took off between two businesses, KCAL reported.
The deputies pursued Guardado on foot and caught up with him behind one of the businesses, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said at a press briefing after the incident.
That was when the officer-involved shooting occurred, according to the sheriff’s department spokesman.
One of the deputies – later identified as Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Miguel Vega – fired six shots at Guardado.
Police said an unregistered handgun with a large-capacity extended magazine was found at the scene near his body, KCAL reported.
The sheriff’s department also used the press conference as an opportunity to clear up false rumors that Guardado had been legally-armed and working as a security guard when he was shot.
Guardado was not old enough to be legally licensed as an armed security guard in the state of California, where the required age for such a license is 21.
Furthermore, he was not wearing a security uniform and he was not equipped with the tools of a security officer, according to the sheriff’s department.
The sheriff’s department told reporters that Guardado was not carrying anything to indicate he was working security when he fled police, including extra magazines for his weapon, handcuffs, or even a holster for his illegal weapon.
KCAL reporters that the sheriff’s department said it had recovered videos from multiple surveillance cameras in the area near the scene, but deputies don’t currently wear bodycams.
“We are going to work hard, do our best. We’re going to be as transparent as we can be,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters.
“That’s why we are pushing for the body-worn cameras since my first week in office,” Sheriff Villanueva added, according to KCAL.
The sheriff has faced harsh criticism for his handling of the Guardado investigation, KCAL reported.
Los Angeles County Medical Examiner Dr. Jonathan Lucas faced off with him when he released Guardado’s autopsy results to the public before he had Sheriff Villanueva’s approval, KCAL reported.
“The unprecedented release of the Andres Guardado autopsy report today by the Medical Examiner-Coroner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, has the potential to jeopardize the investigation, the filing of the case, and any possible future criminal or administrative proceedings,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement after the autopsy was released. “This move will now force the Sheriff’s Department to use court orders to enforce security holds that exist for only one purpose – to prevent tainting witness testimony prior to interviews.”
The autopsy report said Guardado was shot in the back five times, KCAL reported.
“Dr. Lucas has acknowledged succumbing to pressure from the Board of Supervisors and the Office of Inspector General, and has now made the astonishing admission that he sacrificed the integrity of the investigation in a bid to satisfy public curiosity,” the sheriff’s department’s statement read.
The medical examiner’s office disputed assertions that its release of the autopsy was a political move, KCAL reported.
Deputy Vega’s lawyer maintained that the release of the autopsy wouldn’t affect his client.
“The official autopsy’s findings do not alter in any way the ultimate fact that Deputy Vega acted properly and lawfully,” attorney Adam L. Marangell said in a statement. “Deputy Vega did everything possible that night to avoid firing his weapon and regrets his actions resulted in a loss of life.”
There have been multiple protests since the incident occurred, including one in Gardena on June 21 when there was a clash between police and protesters, KCAL reported.
Protesters showed up on the lawn of Deputy Vega’s home on July 30 and staged a sit-in on the grass.
They also posted nasty signs on the outer walls of the deputy’s home, but video showed Covina police arrived and pushed protesters back to the sidewalk.
Later in the evening, the protest was declared an unlawful assembly and protesters left the deputy’s home before any arrests were made, KCAL reported.