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There's No Video Of The Andres Guardado Shooting -- Here's The Sheriff's Explanation

A protest on July 11 at the Compton Civic Center regarding the fatal shooting of Andrés Guardado by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
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The L.A. County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday there's no surveillance video of the fatal June 18 shooting of Andres Guardado because detectives had removed the digital recorder for the property's security cameras as part of the investigation into another shooting at the same location 11 days earlier.

Other information released by Commander Chris Marks at a news conference addressed aspects of the incident, but not the central question: Why did Deputy Miguel Vega shoot the 18-year-old Guardado five times in the back?

Marks spent a significant amount of time talking about the June 7 shooting and possible drug dealing and other criminal activity at an auto body shop at 420 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Gardena, where Guardado was killed. At the same time, Marks stressed that authorities have no information linking Guardado to any previous incidents.

Guardado family attorney Adam Shea blasted the news conference, calling it an "attempt to convolute and cherry pick the facts to create a narrative that links Andres' death to previous incidents of crime near the shop." The event was "nothing more than an attempt to justify the killing of this young man," he said in a statement.

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Marks released low-quality surveillance video from the day Guardado was shot that was taken from a business across the street. It shows Guardado interacting with people in a white Lexus. The video then shows Guardado appear to start running up a driveway away from the deputies, who give chase.

It does not show the fatal shooting. Marks said the video is too grainy to identify the license plate number on the Lexus.

Shea argued the video "only reveals a scared 18-year-old literally running for his life."


Investigators have conducted comprehensive interviews with the deputies involved in the Guardado shooting, Marks said, but he declined to discuss details.

Marks displayed a photograph of what he said was an untraceable .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun recovered from Guardado at the scene. He said Guardado's DNA had been detected on the trigger, trigger guard and magazine.

Vega's lawyer has claimed his client opened fire when Guardado -- who he said had dropped the weapon and followed an order to lie face down on the ground -- reached for the gun, which he said was near the teenager's hand. Marks said the gun was on the concrete next to Guardado, but he could not comment on its exact position.

Guardado's family reportedly has said he worked as a security guard, but Marks said no one who has been interviewed has said they hired Guardado as a guard. Several business operate from the Redondo Beach Blvd. property.

Marks said the department has been unable to provide more updates on the Guardado investigation because of a "parallel" investigation into the June 7 shooting, which left one person severely wounded. He said the deputies involved in the Guardado shooting were among those who responded to the earlier incident.

Noting 23 calls for service at the same location over the past five years, including possible drug dealing and an unsolved 2018 gang-related murder, Marks said "there's obviously a pattern of criminal activity occurring at this location, which is why the deputies were probably drawn to that location and being proactive in trying to address a problem."

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Sheriff Villanueva has faced wide-ranging criticism for his handling of the case, including his failure to fulfill a request from Inspector General Max Huntsman to hand over evidence recovered in the investigation "immediately."

In July -- in an unprecedented move -- L.A. County Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas overrode the sheriff's "security hold" on the official autopsy, releasing it to the public. It confirmed what an independent autopsy had concluded: that Guardado was killed by five shots in the back.

Lucas said he decided to release the official 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."

Villanueva slammed Lucas, saying he had endangered the investigation.

Last month, Villanueva's chief of staff was removed from his position and reassigned to the agency's East Patrol Division after he wrote on Facebook that Guardado "chose his fate."


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