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LA Coroner Overrides Sheriff, Releases Autopsy Confirming Andres Guardado Was Killed By 5 Shots In The Back

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In an unprecedented move, Los Angeles County’s coroner has overridden a Sheriff’s Department “security hold” and released the results of an autopsy that found 18-year-old Andres Guardado was killed by five shots in the back fired by a sheriff’s deputy.

The findings confirm those of an independent autopsy commissioned by Guardado’s family, including the conclusion that he did not have any drugs in his system at the time of his death.

The family ordered the autopsy because of the security hold, which Sheriff Alex Villanueva said was necessary to avoid influencing witnesses' stories.

In a statement, Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas said he decided to release the autopsy after giving “careful consideration to the major variables in this case — supporting the administration of justice, as well as the public’s right to know.”

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Those ideals are not mutually exclusive, he said, and added:

"Both are important, particularly amid the ongoing national discussion about race, policing and civil rights. I believe that government can do its part by being more timely and more transparent in sharing information that the public demands and has a right to see."

"This is the first time the Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner has released a security hold on a case, absent court intervention, against the wishes of the requestor of the hold," coroner spokesperson Sarah Ardalani told us in an email.

Villanueva blasted the coroner's move. In a statement, he said Lucas has “sacrificed the integrity of the investigation in a bid to satisfy public curiosity,” and has potentially jeopardized "any possible future criminal or administrative proceedings."

Guardado’s family has challenged the official version of the June 18 incident, which says Guardado fled from deputies who approached him and was shot after a foot chase during which he produced a gun.

The case has sparked angry protests and national attention. The state attorney general and the FBI are monitoring the investigation.

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UPDATE:

12:56 p.m.: This story was updated to include Sarah Ardalani's comment.

5:00 p.m.: This story was updated to include Sheriff Villanueva's reaction.

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