Andres Guardado, 18, was shot five times in the back by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy last month, according to the results of an independent autopsy released by his family Wednesday after the county put a hold on publicly releasing the official medical examiner's report.
Guardado's parents, Elisa and Cristobal, said the preliminary findings confirmed "what we have known all along, which is that Andres was unjustifiably killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy."
"Our son did not deserve to die this way," they said in a statement. "Andres was a good boy, he was our son and he had so much life ahead of him."
The Guardados hired forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr. Bennet I. Omalu to conduct an autopsy after the sheriff's department placed a “security hold” on the case two weeks ago. The hold came days after Capt. Kent Wegener, head of the homicide bureau, said at a news conference that the county's medical examiner autopsy report would be released.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the practice of "holding facts" is meant to prevent the investigation "from being tainted."
Commander Chris Marks added that the "security hold" will likely remain in place until all interviews related to the homicide investigation are concluded.
Lawyers for the Guardado family have said that officials’ failure to explain exactly what prompted the shooting has made the family's grieving process that much more difficult.
"It has been 20 days since Andres was tragically gunned down by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy," attorney Nicholas Yoka said Wednesday. "We are once again imploring the Sheriff's Department to step forward, release the medical examiner's autopsy report and do the right thing by this family."
After chasing Andres into an alley in the back of a building, one of the deputies shot Guardado several times. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Law enforcement officials have not said what prompted the shooting.
Authorities have not released the names of the deputies involved, but attorneys for the officers have identified them as Miguel Vega, who opened fire, and Chris Hernandez, who didn't shoot.
Marks said that the officer who didn't shoot has been interviewed by investigators and the officer who opened fire is set to be interviewed this upcoming week. Marks said both deputies are still employed, but he doesn't where they're currently assigned.
A modified .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol found at the scene had no markings or serial number and had not been fired, according to Wegener, leading police to believe that Andres didn’t fire it.
Authorities have suggested that the weapon belonged to Andres, "and that information is contrary to everything that the family and friends and co-workers know," Adam Shea, a lawyer for the family, said at a news conference last week.
"We do not believe that he had a gun," Shea said. "There was a gun at the scene. How and why that gun was there and who it belonged to is a question that needs to be answered."
Guardado wasn't a recognized "licensed security officer" in the state of California, the sheriff's department said in a statement, and he wasn't wearing anything “indicating he was working in the capacity of a security guard.”
It is still unclear whether there's any surveillance video showing what happened, Shea said. The cameras seized by authorities at the scene had "no video recordings" in them, said Marks, adding that investigators are trying to find out whether other nearby surveillance cameras might have captured the incident.
The officers didn’t have body cameras because a program designed to provide cameras to deputies has been stalled for years, according to Sheriff Villanueva.
The Guardado family on Wednesday repeated their demand that the county release the medical examiner's report. "We want answers," Elisa and Cristobal Guardado said.
Last weekend, they laid their son to rest "in a ceremony surrounded by all the people that loved" him, the family said.
"We would like to thank everyone for their support during these difficult times," his parents said. "We will not rest, however, until Andres gets justice."