Sheriff's Department Says Shooting Victim Possessed An Illegal Gun. Family Disputes That Claim
The family of an 18-year-old student fatally shot by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy is challenging the department's version of the events that led to his shooting and is demanding an independent investigation into his death.
Andres Guardado was working as a security guard for a Gardena auto body shop when deputies drove up Thursday night. Sheriff's officials say he produced a handgun in view of deputies and ran away.
At a news conference late Saturday afternon, Sheriff Alex Villanueva offered his condolences to the Guardado family and said a thorough investigation is underway.
Captain Kent Wegener provided details of the incident. He said after Guardado produced the weapon and ran onto the body shop property, one deputy fired six rounds, striking Guardado in the upper torso.
According to Wegener:
- A modified .40 caliber gun was recovered at the scene
- The weapon had 13 live rounds
- The weapon does not appear to have been fired during the incident
- Guardado was not wearing a security uniform or a gunbelt.
The captain also noted that Guardado was not yet 21-years-old, which is required to be an armed security guard in California, and that there is no indication of a gun license in Guardado's name.
When asked if Guardado pointed the gun at deputies, Wegener said that "remains to be seen" because they don't have video of the actual shooting. He was not asked about the deputies' account of the incident.
Sheriff's officials said they obtained a search warrant to remove several surveillance cameras as evidence. However, they said no memory cards were found in any of the cameras. Deputies now are seeking any web video from a third party vendor.
Sheriff Villanueva, who has clashed with L.A. County's Board of Supervisors since his election, also said they would have evidence from body cameras "had the board [of supervisors] acted on this in my first month" in office.
Multiple businesses operate from that property and it is unclear which of them employed Guardado.
Wegener said deputies had been called to the same address on June 7, responding to reports of a gunshot victim. He said deputies followed a blood trail inside one of the businesses and found narcotics and a shotgun. He said the victim in that shooting was recovering, but did not indicate if an arrest had been made.
Jennifer Guardado, the sister of the victim, told NBC4 that the family does not believe he was armed:
"Even if this is the last day I breathe, I'm not holding this back because I feel it in my soul, that my brother was murdered and this was covered up."
The owner of one of the businesses at that address, Street Dynamic Autobody, told LAist that deputies broke surveillance cameras after the shooting. The man, who would only identify himself as "Slavin," also said deputies did not have a search warrant to take his video footage.
"I did see the cameras are broken because I do have access to all the cameras in that shop," he said. "And when I went to talk to the detective ... he had already taken the DVR, and he didn't tell me anything about the broken camera."
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of Kent Wegener as Wagener in several places. LAist regrets the error.