On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an urgent motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to ensure an independent investigation into the death of 18-year-old Andres Guardado who was fatally shot by LA County Sheriff’s Department deputies earlier this month near the City of Gardena.
According to a press release, the Board requested the Sheriff to give the Inspector General immediate and full access to all evidence requested in order to provide independent oversight.
“I’ve always been a strong advocate for law enforcement accountability, and the fatal shooting of this young man is no different,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said in an emailed press release. “It is imperative that an immediate and independent investigation be conducted by the Office of Inspector General into the killing of Andres Guardado. The community is grieving and deserves answers.”
The motion also directs County Counsel, in consultation with the Inspector General, the Civilian Oversight Commission and other agencies to report back to the Board with alternative plans to ensure an independent investigation in this case, including the involvement of the Attorney General to oversee the investigation.
According to an initial press release by the LA County Sheriff's Department last Friday, which has since been updated, 18-year-old Guardado was shot and killed after he "produced a firearm," and proceeded to run from officers.
Earlier this week, hundreds gathered outside the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Compton station to protest the shooting and demanding answers.
He was pronounced dead in the 400 block of Redondo Beach Boulevard.
LASD homicide investigators, however, do not believe that Guardado fired his gun at the officers before he was killed by an officer near Gardena.
At a news conference Saturday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said one of two deputies involved in the incident fired six rounds at Guardado.
“Guardado reportedly looked toward the deputies, reached a handgun and ran southbound down the driveway of the business at the location,” Wegener said. “Deputies gave chase on foot, and ultimately caught up to Guardado at the rear of the business, where a deputy-involved shooting occurred.”
It's unclear what lead up to the shooting and investigators are looking to see if any surveillance footage available from the area in the alley where Guardado was shot.
“At this point we don’t believe that gun was fired,” Wegener said. “I know that the gun was in his hand as he fled from the deputies, I don’t know where from… or if he had it in his hand the whole time.
Guardado was working two jobs as a security guard and was studying to be a mechanic at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, his uncle Noe Abarca told the New York Times. Guardado was killed near an auto body shop that he was providing security for that day.
“My parents are completely destroyed, we’re all dead already inside,” his older sister Jennifer Guardado said at a news conference Friday. “My brother’s gone. He’s never gonna come back, but there will be justice in this world.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the shooting illustrates the importance of having body-worn cameras for all deputies.
Guardado's fatal shooting comes on the heels of nationwide protests following the strangling death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.