GARDENA, Calif. — Two Los Angeles County deputies accused of shooting 18-year-old Andres Guardado five times in the back in June have been suspended in reference to a visitors crash that occurred two months earlier than Guardado’s demise.
Sheriff’s Division officers confirmed Friday that the 2 deputies, Miguel Vega and Chris Hernandez, have been relieved of responsibility pending the end result of an investigation, according to the Los Angeles Times.
It was not clear why Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva waited eight months to droop the deputies, the Times reported.
California Freeway Patrol officers mentioned the crash came about simply earlier than 5 p.m. April 13 as Vega drove a patrol automotive. An arrestee was within the again seat of the car on the time.
CHP Officer Simeon Yarbrough told the Times that officers have been known as to an alley in Willowbrook, the place Vega instructed them he’d begun pursuing a bicyclist he suspected of carrying a gun.
As he tried to cross a parked automotive, Vega mentioned, he crashed into the car and a wall. The person within the deputies’ custody suffered minor accidents within the crash.
Vega and the injured man gave CHP officers differing accounts of how briskly the patrol automotive was going, the Times reported. Vega instructed investigators he accelerated from 30 to 35 mph simply earlier than the crash.
The detainee mentioned the automotive was touring between 55 and 60 mph.
The newspaper reported that arrest and jail data present no indication that the person was ever booked or charged, elevating considerations that Vega let him go after the crash.
The paper reported that the belated investigation of the crash additionally raises questions of whether or not Vega and Hernandez ought to have been relieved of responsibility previous to Guardado’s June demise — and whether or not the teenager would nonetheless be alive if they’d been.
Guardado was working as a safety guard at an auto physique store close to Gardena simply earlier than 6 p.m. June 18 when two deputies from the Compton substation, later recognized as Vega and Hernandez, noticed him standing in entrance of the enterprise at 420 W. Redondo Seaside Blvd., speaking to somebody.
“Guardado reportedly seemed towards the deputies, produced a handgun and ran southbound down the driveway of the enterprise on the location,” according to Capt. Kent Wegener, head of the sheriff’s division’s Murder Bureau. “Deputies gave chase on foot and in the end caught as much as Guardado on the rear of the enterprise, the place a deputy-involved taking pictures occurred.”
One deputy fired on the teen, who was struck within the torso. He was pronounced useless on the scene, Wegener said during a news conference. Attorneys for the deputies later recognized Vega because the deputy who shot Guardado.
Hernandez didn’t fireplace his weapon.
A case report hooked up to the official post-mortem report signifies the deputies noticed the gun in Guardado’s waistband.
“Officers instructed decedent to get down and to not attain for his weapon,” the case report states. “The decedent reached to his waistband and officers shot on the decedent.”
Guardado was pronounced useless on the scene. A complete of six shell casings have been recovered from the driveway, based on the report.
The teenager’s demise prompted a whole lot of individuals, together with his relations, to protest on the scene of the taking pictures.
“My mother and father are fully destroyed,” his sister, Jennifer Guardado, told The Associated Press. “We’re all useless inside. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him and it harm me an excessive amount of.”
Guardado’s household has expressed doubts about his alleged possession of a weapon, which authorities have described as a .45-caliber handgun with a polymer body and a prohibited prolonged journal loaded with 13 rounds. It had no markings or serial quantity, investigators mentioned.
Authorities mentioned Guardado, who was not sufficiently old to work as a state-licensed armed safety guard, was not sporting a guard’s uniform or a gun belt. He had no holster or further magazines of ammunition for his pistol, and he had no handcuffs.
The teenager shouldn’t be believed to have fired the weapon at deputies and Adam Shea, an legal professional representing his household, has mentioned the declare Guardado was carrying a gun is “opposite to the whole lot that the household and mates and colleagues know.
“We don’t imagine that he had a gun,” Shea mentioned at a information convention, according to NBC News. “There was a gun on the scene. How and why that gun was there and who it belonged to is a query that must be answered.”
No physique digital camera footage of the taking pictures exists. Villanueva said that Guardado’s killing underscored the necessity for the cameras.
A Sept. 1 motion adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to make sure a “clear and impartial” probe into the taking pictures signifies that Vega instructed investigators “that he approached Mr. Guardado after Mr. Guardado dropped a gun as instructed and laid down as ordered.”
“Nonetheless, Deputy Vega’s assertion was taken by LASD investigators a month after Mr. Guardado’s killing, and solely after the LASD had concluded there was no video file of the ultimate moments of Mr. Guardado’s life,” the motion continued.
A second post-mortem commissioned by Guardado’s household confirmed he was shot 5 instances within the again at shut vary.
The outcomes of the second post-mortem echoed the findings of the official post-mortem, which Dr. Jonathan Lucas, chief medical examiner-coroner for Los Angeles County, released in defiance of a “security hold” positioned on the report by Villanueva.
Every of the 5 bullets that struck Guardado triggered deadly wounds, the official post-mortem report states. Toxicology outcomes present the teenager had no medicine or alcohol in his system when he was killed.
Learn Andres Guardado’s official post-mortem report beneath.
“Our son didn’t should die this manner,” Guardado’s parents said in a statement obtained by NBC News. “Andres was a great boy. He was our son, and he had a lot life forward of him.”
Guardado, a scholar on the Los Angeles Commerce-Technical School, was working two part-time safety jobs to assist assist his household, based on family members. His demise has prompted a number of protests, and county officers and U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters and Nanette Diaz Barragán, each of California, demanded an independent investigation into the taking pictures.
Los Angeles County officers additionally demanded an impartial investigation into Guardado’s slaying.
An inquest into the taking pictures is being carried out by the Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner. The continuing — the first held in LA County in 30 years — started Nov. 30.
“The division … is dedicated to transparency and offering the residents of Los Angeles County an impartial evaluation of its findings on this case,” Lucas said. “An inquest ensures that our residents may have an impartial evaluation of all of the proof and findings of our workplace and of the trigger and method of demise of Mr. Guardado.”
A retired California Courtroom of Appeals justice is overseeing the inquest, which Lucas mentioned is being carried out in accordance with the motion approved by the Board of Supervisors.
“Within the wake of the homicide of George Floyd, and much too many others since then, calls for for accountability of regulation enforcement have escalated,” the motion reads. “The disturbing development inside regulation enforcement to thwart oversight and transparency of inner investigations threatens to additional erode the general public’s belief that justice might be served.
“This circumstance should not be tolerated.”
Vega, Hernandez and two detectives who investigated the taking pictures have refused to testify on the inquest, the Times reported. Upon the recommendation of their attorneys, every invoked their Fifth Modification proper in opposition to self-incrimination.
Sheriff’s Division officers instructed the newspaper Villanueva didn’t instruct the deputies to invoke their rights. Authorized specialists indicated, nevertheless, that it could be a transfer by the division to refuse cooperation in a continuing the sheriff dismissed as a “circus stunt.”
Take heed to Sheriff Alex Villanueva focus on the inquest beneath.
Loyola Regulation College professor Laurie Levenson told the paper she was not stunned by the deputies’ transfer.
“I’m certain what they’re considering is, ‘We don’t know the place that is headed. We don’t know who that is going to focus on. We don’t know in the event that they’re going to assert there’s some sort of cover-up. We don’t know sufficient to not assert our Fifth Modification proper,’” Levenson said. “I feel you’ll be able to take it for what it’s: Nobody is volunteering from that sheriff’s workplace to cooperate in that inquiry.
“It was clearly coordinated. It was clearly designed to guard them, and to make it tougher to make findings that might be used in opposition to them or others.”
On Aug. 31, Guardado’s mother and father filed a wrongful death lawsuit in opposition to the sheriff’s division, the county, Vega and Hernandez. The lawsuit alleges not solely that the deputies used “unreasonable and extreme pressure,” but in addition that they “have been probably appearing in connection and in settlement with members of a number of LASD gangs of which they might be affiliated,” lawyers for the family said.
Learn the Guardado household’s lawsuit beneath.
The lawyers allege that Villanueva and his division “knew about deputy gangs throughout the sheriff’s division, knew that deputies Vega and Hernandez ‘had doable affiliations with at the least one in every of these Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division gangs, together with, however not restricted to, the gangs often called the Executioners and/or the three,000 Boys’ and that these identical deputies ‘have been probably appearing in connection and in settlement with these different gang members on the day of Andres’ demise.’”
A whistleblower from throughout the division got here ahead with allegations that Vega was attempting to get into the Executioners, FOX11 in Los Angeles reported. In a video deposition, Deputy Artwork Gonzalez testified that 15 deputies on the Compton station — the place Vega and Hernandez have been assigned — belonged to the gang.
Members of the gang have matching cranium tattoos. According to Gonzalez, the gang “celebrates” deputy-involved shootings by ingesting and getting the tattoos.
“We name it Ink Chasers as a result of they’re on the market attempting to indicate the remainder of the members, the remainder of the ink members, that they’re worthy of that tattoo,” Gonzalez said.
By means of his legal professional, Vega has denied the allegations.
Villanueva and the division have confirmed deputy gang exercise prior to now. In August, Villanueva introduced he deliberate to fireside or droop 26 deputies in reference to an assault dedicated by the “Banditos” deputy gang in 2018. The Banditos operated out of the East Los Angeles substation.
According to ABC7 in Los Angeles, Villanueva’s choice stemmed from a violent confrontation at a department-sponsored get together. One of many deputies who was crushed spoke out anonymously after he and 6 colleagues filed claims alleging harassment and discrimination.
“There’s folks getting, , stomped on … being choked out … it was simply loopy, loopy to imagine they’re all cops,” the deputy told the news station in 2019.
Just like the Executioners, the Banditos had matching tattoos of a skeleton. The skeleton wore a sombrero and carried a shotgun, ABC7 reported.
“Vikings, Reapers, Regulators, Little Devils, Cowboys, 2000 Boys and 3000 Boys, Bounce Out Boys and most not too long ago, the Banditos and the Executioners,” Matthew Burson, chief of the department’s professional standard division, said. “I’m completely sickened by the mere allegation of any deputy hiding behind their badges to harm anybody.”
Shea, the legal professional for Guardado’s household, said in a statement that he’s assured that, when the information come out, a jury will “ship justice that displays how grossly the Sheriff’s Division and Los Angeles County officers have failed Andres, his household and the folks of the communities they’ve sworn to serve.”
“The blood of Andres Guardado lays not solely on the palms of Deputy Miguel Vega, however on each member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Division who has dismissed their oath to assist the Structure of the USA and the Structure of the State of California,” Shea said.