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L.A. officials still can't answer why Andres Guardado was fatally shot in back by deputy

Both an official county autopsy and an independent autopsy by the family showed the teen was shot in the back five times by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy.
Image:
A woman participates in a rally with activists and relatives of Andres Guardado, who was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy in Gardena, in Compton, Calif. on June 28, 2020.David McNew / AFP - Getty Images

The family of Andres Guardado is still waiting for answers on the teen was fatally shot by a deputy two months ago, even after a new briefing by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday.

Guardado, 18, was fatally shot by deputies on June 18 after the officers allegedly saw Guardado with a gun and pursued him as he ran away. Both an official county autopsy and an independent autopsy by the family found Guardado was shot in the back five times.

The teenager was speaking to unidentified individuals in a white Lexus sedan, saw deputies approach in a marked vehicle and ran away, according to L.A. Sheriff's Department Commander Chris Marks.

Andres Guardado.Family photo

Marks told reporters Wednesday that the department was working on a “parallel investigation” regarding the location where Guardado was shot that limited its ability to release information.

“That’s for the district attorney to provide,” Marks said. “We’re trying to gather as many facts as we can, present that to the district attorney, and the district attorney’s office will make that determination.

While a 40-caliber semiautomatic pistol was found at the scene, Marks was unable to answer Wednesday whether Guardado ever aimed the gun at deputies and said there was no evidence he fired the gun at them.

No identifiable fingerprints were found on the gun’s frame, but Guardado’s DNA was found on the gun’s trigger, trigger guard and magazine, Marks said.

“The pistol was photographed and determined to be consistent in design and construction with a 3D printed polymer frame,” Marks said.

The commander also said the frame lacked any serial number markings and a test fire showed it to be functional.

Deputy Miguel Vega alleged in his interview with investigators that Guardado reached for his gun while face down on the ground, his attorney Adam Marangell told the Los Angeles Times last month.

“During this interview he made clear that he did everything possible that night to avoid firing his weapon, including repeated commands to ‘not reach for the gun,’” Marangell said in a statement. “Deputy Vega went to work that day to protect the citizens of the community and, unfortunately, was forced to take action which resulted in a loss of life.”

Attorneys for the Guardado family have previously said that the teenager owning a gun “is contrary to everything that the family and friends and co-workers know,” and that the department has provided no proof it belonged to Guardado.

Marks went on to discuss previous criminal activity at the auto body shop where Guardado was observed by deputies and an ongoing investigation into a non-fatal shooting in the area on June 7. The commander said that previous activity is not linked to Guardado, but provides a “backdrop” to the “operations” at the location.

Investigators have said there is no video of the shooting, since deputies did not have body cameras due to a program providing the cameras being stalled for years. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva announced Wednesday that the department had reached a deal and some deputies would be outfitted with the cameras as early as October.

The department was also unable to find video footage of the shooting from businesses, in part due to the June 7 shooting, which occurred while people were allegedly lined up outside the business to illicitly purchase nitrous oxide gas, Marks said.

Investigators had obtained a search warrant for the memory card in the auto body shop’s security cameras and the cards had not been replaced by the time of Guardado’s death 11 days later.

The department was also unable to find video footage of the shooting from surrounding businesses or from the auto body shop’s alarm company, Marks said. There was some footage captured in front of the auto body shop by a business, but only shows Guardado approaching a white sedan and then later running away as deputies approach.

Adam Shea, one of the attorneys representing the Guardado’s family, told NBC News in a statement Wednesday that the sheriff’s office “once again” failed the family.

“The Department's attempt to convolute and cherry pick the facts to create a narrative that links Andres' death to previous incidents of crime near the shop is nothing more than an attempt to justify the killing of this young man,” Shea’s statement said.

The family has been repeatedly told over the last two months nothing will be released so as to protect the investigation and had been hoping to learn the truth Wednesday, Shea said.

“We will continue to seek the truth in Andres' death and we'll not rest until those responsible are brought to justice,” the statement said.

The FBI said in July that it would review the county’s investigation and look at “all available evidence to determine what federal response is warranted," according to NBC Los Angeles.