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Lawyer For Deputy Who Shot Andres Guardado: It Was Self-Defense

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After an independent autopsy found that L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy Miguel Vega shot 18-year-old Andres Guardado five times in the back, Vega’s lawyer issued a statement saying his client acted in “self defense” as Guardado reached for a gun.

The statement did not cite any corroborating evidence or independent witnesses, and Vega hasn't yet spoken to Sheriff's investigators about his version of events. His lawyer, Adam Marangell, said Vega is scheduled to be interviewed by investigators on Monday.

On the evening of June 18, Vega spotted Guardado with a gun in his waistband and Guardado fled down a driveway, Marangell said. The encounter began outside the auto body shop in Gardena where Guardado worked as a security guard.

As Vega gave chase, Guardado removed the gun from his waistband as the deputy repeatedly ordered him to stop, said Marangell. He said Guardado eventually did stop, “turned around, and raised both hands in the air while still being armed.”

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Vega ordered him to drop the weapon and lie face down on the ground, which he did, Marangell said, adding that the gun was “extremely close” to Guardado’s right hand. He said Vega holstered his weapon and began approaching Guardado to handcuff him when Guardado “clearly and unmistakably tried to grab the firearm,” prompting Vega to draw his weapon again and open fire.

Vega’s partner, Chris Hernandez, confirmed seeing a gun in Guardado’s waistband, his attorney Tom Yu told the Los Angeles Times. Hernandez had a partial view of Guardado beginning to lie on the ground when he heard Vega’s order for him to drop the weapon, followed by gunfire, Yu said.

The department has not said whether it has recovered any video that captures the encounter.

Guardado’s family ordered the independent autopsy after the Sheriff’s Department placed a “security hold” on the official autopsy, arguing that it needs to conclude its witness interviews before releasing it. Guardado’s parents said in a statement that the autopsy results “confirm what we have known all along, which is that Andres was unjustifiably killed.”

The case has prompted angry protests and national attention, as it came amid the outcry over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

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Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the state attorney general and the FBI have agreed to monitor the investigation.

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